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We’re Here…London 2022

Posted By on December 24, 2022

Jingle bear...Paddington Bear at Papouelli, London, England. (P. Ferguson image, November 2022)

Jingle bear…Paddington Bear at Papouelli, London, England.
(P. Ferguson image, November 2022)

At Long Last

It was time to go…the last time, November 2019 and now three years later and after all the calamities of the world I was at long last back in London. I have been visiting this city since 1983…and part of this trip was to revisit and reconnect with a few of those places I met on my first trip…the Cadogan Hotel, Harrods, Wolfe’s Restaurant, The Empire, The Hippodrome…the Imperial War Museum, the National Army Museum and London at Christmas.

Gieves & Hawkes...No. 1 Savile Row, London. Creators of fine garments including uniform clothing. (P. Ferguson image, November 2022)

Gieves & Hawkes…No. 1 Savile Row, London.
Creators of fine garments including uniform clothing.
(P. Ferguson image, November 2022)

The first time I visited was in December and London was filled with Christmas. It was new for me…city shock at first and then well received with open arms. I still think upon those times and those I met…its part of what I do and its part of who I am. And oh how I love to find connection!

No. 3 Savile Row, London, England. Former headquarters of Apple Records. The Beatles played their last live performance atop the roof 30 January 1969. (P. Ferguson image, November 2022)

No. 3 Savile Row, London, England.
Former headquarters of Apple Records. The Beatles played their last live performance atop the roof 30 January 1969.
(P. Ferguson image, November 2022)

Nevertheless this November trip means there will be more here for future posts as with some 3,900 images taken (not all great – but then not all bad) I have again – a fine photo archive to visit and feature. I need some time to gather my thoughts and find stories to connect my walks this year that may bring us Senate House, the Shell-Mex Building, remnants of Second World War iron salvage, and of course the museum visits.

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Happy Xmas…(War Is Over)
John Lennon, 1998
And so we can hope!

Samuel Honey VC DCM MM

Posted By on November 11, 2022

Lieutenant Samuel Lewis Honey VC DCM MM 78th Canadian Infantry Battalion (Winnipeg Grenadiers) (Wiki Image)

Lieutenant Samuel Lewis Honey VC DCM MM
78th Canadian Infantry Battalion (Winnipeg Grenadiers)
(Wiki Image)

Bourlon Wood. Battle of the Canal du Nord: Actions of 27 and 29 September 1918
DEAR LEW THE THINGS WHICH ARE NOT SEEN ARE ETERNAL

For most conspicuous bravery during the Bourlon Wood operations, 27th September to 2nd October, 1918. On 27th September, when his company commander and all other officers of his company had become casualties, Lt. Honey took command and skilfully reorganised under very severe fire. He continued the advance with great dash and gained the objective. Then finding that his company was suffering casualties from enfilade machine-gun fire he located the machine-gun nest and rushed it single-handed, capturing the guns and ten prisoners. Subsequently he repelled four enemy counter-attacks and after dark again went out alone, and having located an enemy post, led a party which captured the post and three guns. On the 29th September he led his company against a strong enemy position with great skill and daring and continued in the succeeding days of the battle to display the same high example of valour and self-sacrifice. He died of wounds received during the last day of the attack by his battalion [30 September 1918].

My time at Queant Communal has always been short, but I recall on both occasions that I hopped up the stairs and into this place of rest. The series of images taken at Queant have always stood out with wonderful blues accented by the white and grey toned clouds above. Beauty in these places of sorrow…calm and rasping. Queant is one place I should like to spend some extra time. Our short visits to many of these sites on this 2010 trip were self-imposed due to the number of places I wished to see. My project? A dedicated effort to photograph the burial places and memorials of many of Canada’s highest decorated soldiers who lost their lives during the Great War and apart from Honey this day too included…Nunney, McAndie, Gibson, Milne, Bogicevich, Slattery, Moore, Ironside, and Trendell. Stories for another time.

The November Series 2022 has now met with the next chapter, this day of days 11 November. With camera in hand…it is time to gather.

Honey marker (centre) at Queant Communal Cemetery, France. (P. Ferguson image, October 2009)

Honey marker (centre) at Queant Communal Cemetery British Extension, France, Age 24.
(P. Ferguson image, October 2009)

Helpful Link
Uxbridge Banner Program

The Canal du Nord taken from the car as a passenger. (P. Ferguson image, September 2005)

The Canal du Nord taken from the car as a passenger.
(P. Ferguson image, September 2005)

Claude Joseph Patrick Nunney VC DCM MM

Posted By on November 10, 2022

Private Claude Joseph Patrick VC DCM MM 38th Canadian Infantry Battalion (Wiki Image)

Private Claude Joseph Patrick VC DCM MM
38th Canadian Infantry Battalion
(Wiki Image)

Drocourt-Quéant Line near Vis-en-Artois: Action of 1-2 September 1918
No inscription on marker

For most conspicuous bravery during the operations against the Drocourt-Queant line on Sept. 1st and 2nd, 1918. On Sept. 1st, when his battalion was in the vicinity of Vis-en-Artois, preparatory to the advance, the enemy laid down a heavy barrage and counter-attacked. Pte. Nunney, who was at this time at company headquarters, immediately on his own initiative proceeded through the barrage to the company outpost lines, going from post to post and encouraging the men by his own fearless example. The enemy were repulsed and a critical situation was saved. During the attack on Sept. 2nd, his dash continually placed him in advance of his companions, and his fearless example undoubtedly helped greatly to carry the company forward to its objectives.

Claude Joseph Patrick Nunney is one of two soldiers of the Canadian Expeditionary Force to be awarded the Victoria Cross, the Distinguished Conduct Medal and the Military Medal. Both Nunney and fellow soldier Samuel Lewis Honey VC DCM MM were killed during the Great War. Nunney is buried at Aubigny and Honey at Queant Communal Cemetery – about 37.9 kilometres apart. Nunney died of his wounds received in his 1-2 September VC action on 18 September 1918.

As I continue with the 2022 November Series I realize that many pictures from my 1999 first visit to the Western Front remain unscanned. This first trip was an important return to North West Europe. Having lived in Germany for three years in the 1960s our family made the most of visiting neighbouring nations and though war graves and memorials were not the destination, I became, in 1999, easily re-accustomed to familiar journeying about. In the 1950s my father Ed visited the grave site of friend Trooper Mario Ruaben buried at Groesbeek Canadian War Cemetery, Netherlands. Mario was, like my father, from Lethbridge, Alberta and at the time of Mario’s death 2 April 1945 was serving with the Fort Garry Horse. I have the black and white 1950s photo from that time and must, together with the 1999 pictures, work on making them accessible.

In 1999 the only real plan that Mike, Chris and I had for the Western Front was visiting the Vimy Memorial and staying in Arras “Mange baguette. Fromage, jambon. Cafe avec lait”. Poor French I know but we were well fed and pleased knowing we could manage these few days. On the day of our visit, the memorial at Vimy was covered in mist with low cloud above…It was here I found my great grandfather’s name and penned a few words that I oft’ repeat to self to this day…How many eyes have seen these names…and whispered voices read them softly? A first for me – place – experience – images -words…here at this expression in stone.

My great grandfather…brought me here…perhaps I could give back in some way…a guiding hand of 1917 to 1999. One now wonders as I write what other images I have from 1999? Did I capture the experience of place elsewhere? I am now keen to learn if we visited Aubigny Communal Cemetery Extension in 1999? Perhaps this was the first visit to Claude Joseph Patrick Nunney? It seems possible. I need to have another re-visit – a dive into old film photos. There will be surprises here…I hope they are in focus.

Nunney marker at Aubigny Communal Cemetery Extension, France. (P. Ferguson image, September 2010)

Nunney marker at Aubigny Communal Cemetery Extension, France, Age 25.
(P. Ferguson image, September 2010)

Helpful Link
The First World War – East Sussex

Marker image used in marking series of images for review while traveling. (P. Ferguson image, September 2010)

Marker image used in marking series of images for review while traveling.
(P. Ferguson image, September 2010)

John William Sayer VC

Posted By on November 9, 2022

Lance Corporal John William Sayer VC 8th Battalion The Queen's (Royal West Surrey Regiment) (Wiki Image)

Lance Corporal John William Sayer VC
8th Battalion The Queen’s (Royal West Surrey Regiment)
(Wiki Image)

Le Verguier, France: Action of 21 March 1918
NEVER SHALL HIS MEMORY FADE

For most conspicuous bravery, determination and ability displayed on the 21st March, 1918, at Le Verguier, when holding for two hours, in face of incessant attacks, the flank of a small isolated post. Owing to mist the enemy approached the post from both sides to within 30 yards before being discovered. Lance-Corporal Sayer, however, on his own initiative and without assistance, beat off a succession of flank attacks and inflicted heavy casualties on the enemy. Though attacked by rifle and machine-gun fire, bayonet and bombs, he repulsed all attacks, killing many and wounding others. During the whole time he was continuously exposed to rifle and machine-gun fire, but he showed the utmost contempt of danger and his conduct was an inspiration to all. His skilfull use of fire of all descriptions enabled the post to hold out till nearly all the garrison had been killed and himself wounded and captured. He subsequently died as a result of wounds at Le Cateau [18 April 1918].

A day before arriving at Le Cateau Cemetery we wandered through Ulster Tower, the nearby battlefield park, and afterwards Lochnagar Crater filled around its perimeter and at its cross with poppy commemorations. These are not unvisited lands…they…(we)…come here often, students, pilgrims, researchers, family, the interested. (we are all of these). This was one day when we also visited the German Great War Cemetery at Fricourt (17,000 burials) finding crosses and tablets with stones set upon the markers of German Jewish veterans…Wolff, Müller. Weissmann, and Zürndorfer…there may well be others here amongst fellow German non-Jewish veterans Hees, Hillug, Theile. Schaible and Baur. Leaving here we turn to a lasting memory of the Devonshire Cemetery…The Devonshires Held This Trench. The Devonshires Hold It Still…Our day maintained its forward movement…to several sites until time to rest at Auchonvillers in the Avril Williams Guesthouse and Tea Rooms.

Fed and watered and well rested…our new day brought us to Le Cateau…as we drove along the sunken road the lone tree at Le Cateau came into view…the site of the 1914 rearguard action. Here was 1914…the Old Contemptibles of the British Expeditionary Force…the 26 August 1914 2nd Battalion Suffolk Regiment Memorial…Le Cateau German Military Cemetery (over 5,000 burials) and alongside – the Commonwealth burials numbering nearly 700 graves. It is here against the wall, with tall, green leaves and stalks with golden tassels and silk behind the perimeter that John William Sayer VC is buried. Sayer’s actions were made on the first day of the German spring offensive, the Kaiserschlacht, 21 March 1918. Sayer was wounded, captured and died of wounds near a month later…18 April 1918…these are not unvisited lands.

Sayer marker at La Cateau Military Cemetery, France. (P. Ferguson image, September 2006)

Sayer marker at La Cateau Military Cemetery, France. Age 39
(P. Ferguson image, September 2006)

Helpful Link
The Queen’s Royal West Surreys

The lone tree of Le Cateau. Taken within the car on the sunken road. (P. Ferguson image, September, 2006)

The lone tree of Le Cateau. Taken within the car on the sunken road.
(P. Ferguson image, September, 2006)

Lewis McGee VC

Posted By on November 8, 2022

Sergeant Lewis McGee VC 40th Battalion Australian Imperial Force (Wiki image)

Sergeant Lewis McGee VC
40th Battalion Australian Imperial Force
(Wiki image)

Battle of Broodseinde. Passchendaele Offensive. Action of 4 October 1917
No inscription on marker

For most conspicuous bravery when in the advance to the final objective, Sjt. McGee led his platoon with great dash and bravery, though strongly opposed, and under heavy shell fire.

His platoon was suffering severely and the advance of the Company was stopped by machine gun fire from a “Pill-box” post. Single-handed Sjt. McGee rushed the post armed only with a revolver. He shot some of the crew and captured the rest, and thus enabled the advance to proceed. He reorganised the remnants of his platoon and was foremost in the remainder of the advance, and during consolidation of the position he did splendid work.

This Non-commissioned Officer’s coolness and bravery were conspicuous and contributed largely to the success of the Company’s operations.

Sjt. McGee was subsequently killed in action [12 October 1917].

Tyne Cot Cemetery and Memorial is located outside of Passchendaele and is the largest Commonwealth military cemetery of all time with 11,965 burials. Many are unknown. Within its walls is the German Army Tyne Cot blockhouse captured by Australian Forces on 4 October 1917 and two German fortifications known as Irksome and The Barnacle. Tyne Cot has dedicated considerable effort towards the visitor’s experience modernizing its exterior layout to accommodate tour buses away from the original lane vantage and entry point. As one walks towards the entry speakers read out names of the fallen which carry through to the Interpretive Centre with several Great War items on exhibit as well as the historic Great War archaeological finds made as the site was prepared. Sergeant McGee’s marker is, like others, frequently provided with commemorations. This day was to be no different with a ceramic kangaroo and poppy left at his graveside. As I studied for today’s post I saw another image of Sergeant McGee with his wife Eileen and baby daughter Nada taken in 1916. Often I think about these type of images. Soldiers off to war…a family in waiting…will they come home? It is a familiar tragedy for many families and one heartfelt in the Ferguson home knowing of grandmother “Grannie” Hazel who lost her father, Ole Berget of the 31st Canadian Infantry Battalion on 3 May 1917. Grannie, at the time, was two years two months of age…one of many left to remember.

McGee marker at Tyne Cot Cemetery, Belgium. (P. Ferguson image, September 2009)

McGee marker at Tyne Cot Cemetery, Belgium, Age 29
(P. Ferguson image, September 2009)

Helpful Link

Australian War Memorial

Lewis McGee with wife Eileen and daughter Nada. (Wiki Image)

Lewis McGee with wife Eileen and daughter Nada.
(Wiki Image)