How do you say goodbye to a love one you sent away to war? A person who may never have returned?
Along the main thoroughfare, turn a corner, the towers of the church at Yate are revealed. Then venture past the school and on through the lych gate covered with the names of the fallen of World War One from this corner of South Gloucestershire. For this is Yate:
This family of Caters. One of those that played its part in shaping British and perhaps too Canadian history. Born of Gloucestershire, of Iron Acton and Yate but folk who served and died. One in a war of the old guard in South Africa; and three in a war of a newer age made in Europe. Their memorial and grave may be marked with a Canadian leaf but the grief in their loss was rooted in England.
His name was George William Rose. A Private in the 1st Canadian Field Ambulance, Canadian Army Medical Corps. His death occurred on the 4th February 1919. He was 23 years old. He is buried at Castlemorton church.
Then on May 7th 1915, as his daughter Margaret, his private secretary and himself were sailing back from the United States to Britain, the ship he was sailing was struck by a German torpedo fired by a U-boat. That ship was the Lusitania. The Cunard liner RMS Lusitania sank eleven miles off the west coast of Ireland in eighteen minutes. Of the 1,959 people on board, 1,198 were killed. Only 761 people survived - David Thomas, his daughter Margaret (then married to a Mackworth) and his secretary Arnold Rhys-Evans all eventually made it to safety. His daughter Margaret, who herself was a real firebrand character, wrote of her experiences when Lusitania sank in her autobiography. (Which is in itself a worthy read as a self-proclaimed suffragist, women's crusader and business leader.)
An avenue of trees leads to the church. But before more than a few paces; stop awhile to study the war memorial to the men of Henton. And not far away is the memorial to the Hayes family. On the grave of his mother is also the memorial to her son. A navy boy aged just 16 years old. A boy who died in the Great War.
Tucked in the behind of the church amongst long grass and indeterminate insects sits the Deakins' grave. It is a memorial not necessarily of one but of many; and not just of war service but of a demonstration of family. For on William Deakins' grave are the graves and memorials of his family - his sons and daughters and of his wife, Selina. And Albert. One of his sons.
The stone cross war memorial sits down below on the lane. It is sat back staring down at passers-by daring anyone to ignore the solid reminder of the cost of war. Both Fred Parslow and Harold Jones are named upon it. Members of both the returned and unreturned army of Blaisdon.
In the quiet hamlet of Birtsmorton, between Malvern and Tewkesbury, the moated Birtsmorton Court sits and adjacent to it the peaceful St Thomas of Canterbury with St Peter and St Paul Birtsmorton Church. Now a wedding venue but then the family seat of a nobled family with all that entailed an estate. Hunting, shooting, farming, family servants and farmers; an enlarged family of gentry, farmers and workers. Connected by the land and their relationship with it.
The Carpenter's Arms stands there still. It lies on the Uley Road from Dursley in Gloucestershire, you may pass it by from Cotswold explorations or walks on the trails. The Seeleys used to run the Carpenter's Arms one hundred years ago. Robert Seeley died aged 72 years in 1916. On his grave, a memorial was written to his son...