How do you say goodbye to a love one you sent away to war? A person who may never have returned?
The John the Baptist Church at Old Sodbury sits on a perfect ridge above the more well-known of the Chipping Sodbury. Views go on for miles and above you along the ridge is the old iron age fort which sits atop the Cotswold escarpment. The Cotswold Way drifts past this church heading for further distances, but those who linger will see the wondrous views from a simple wooden bench at the end of the churchyard.
The War Memorial tablet hangs from the wall inside the church at Bredon. Among the many names of the fallen with links to this small Worcestershire village are those of the individuals described above. Men who never came home. The unreturned army of Bredon.
The last farewell by a wife to her husband. Hung on a wall in Ampney Crucis church. There is something earnest and beautiful about it. Made of wood and crafted with a consideration and care. Thoughtful. For here in this beautiful and elegant Cotswold village, the war must have seen like a lifetime away. Here in this estate church perched next to a grand house. Village life, estate life must have been the life of this village. I passed the village war memorial on the way to the church; over the brook and past the small green where the Cotswold stone memorial cross stands.
In July 1916, Miss Lloyd-Baker of Hardwicke Court, Hardwicke, Gloucester wrote a letter to the local newspaper asking if any person had received any letters from soldiers in the Gloucestershire Yeomanry about the fate of her brother Captain Michael Granville Lloyd Lloyd-Baker. She asked if they would communicate directly.
For No. 240961 Private Frank Joseph Arkell has no known grave; his legacy sits on the war memorial at Pozieres. On a panel with over 14,000 unidentified men. Men who were killed in the massive German onslaught of March and April 1918 in the grand Spring Offensive. The 2/5th Gloucestershire Regiment were held up around Holnon Wood, just north-west of St Quentin. Heavy artillery, gas, machine gun fire and offensive operations meant that the Division retreated heavily.
For once before, Albert George or Bert was named Perrett. A man who died on the 8th June 1916 serving as a sapper in the 70th Field Company, Royal Engineers. The son of John and Emma Perrett of Cromhall. Buried at Bethune Town Cemetery in northern France. At Duty's Call - they wrote on his gravestone.
But if you should venture to Stowe, to ponder and wander past the grottos and temples, the statues and vistas, pause if you will at the church. For if you should tiptoe in, imagine the sadness of Christmas 1914, the loss of the last heir of Stowe and the loss of the estate community. Look up and you may glimpse the memorial of a mother to a son lost to the war - the stained glass window. Unveiled in 1917 in an old family estate now lingering slowly in the midst of modernity.
Private Christopher George Ball of the 12th Battalion Gloucestershire Regiment enlisted on September 21st 1914. Just less than two years later, he would be dead; killed on September 3rd 1916 in France. He was 26 years of age and the only son of his parents. Through grief or sorrow, his parents George and Charlotte Ball placed a memorial tablet in the church at Dyrham.
Arthur Boulter Tombs was killed in the last year of the First World War. Thy way not mine, Oh Lord He was serving as a Rifleman in the London Regiment when he was killed on March 28th 1918. Issued with the service number 572365 in the 17th Battalion London Regiment when he was sent to France in August 1917, he was then sent to the 5th Battalion London Regiment and then posted to the 1st Battalion London Regiment. He was 19 years old; he had his whole life ahead of him.