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 noble 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.
Amongst the tall evergreen trees and the sight of fallen confetti, a memorial to the fallen passes the time of day. A lofty stone cross stands proud at the boundary.
To the glory of God
Gunner Arthur Oswald Allsopp R. F. A.
Killed October 30th 1917
Private William Allan Smith
Oxford and Bucks L. I.
of this parish
who gave their life for their
King and Country
in the Great War
Until the day break, and the shadows flee away
Gunner Arthur Oswald Allsopp served in B Battery, 74th Brigade of the Royal Field Artillery. His official date of death is listed as the 30th October 1917. Buried at Ruisseau Farm Cemetery near Langemark, north of Ypres in Belgium. The Cemetery at Ruisseau Farm was started in October 1917 and ended a month later 1917 after the Guards Division and the French army took it in October 1917. The Artillery also buried their losses here which I guess is why Arthur is here along side 82 others; 28 of them Royal Artillery.
His end seems so far away from his beginning. Born in Berrow, not far from Birtsmorton in Worcestershire in 1896, Arthur worked for the Great Western Railway before he left to fight in the war in September 1914; working as a porter at Cross Keys and Newport. He enlisted in Newport, Wales and got to France in mid-1915 leaving his father who worked the land in Birtsmorton. Born in 1896, he was merely 21 years of age when he died; killed in action.
His fellow soldier that stands next him in perpetuity on this memorial is that of Private William Allan Smith. Listed as missing in 1918, his war grave is today listed at Heath Cemetery at Harbonnieres between Amiens and St. Quentin. His date of death is given as the 4th April 1918, serving with the 5th Battalion Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry. The son of Charles and Annie Smith. But deemed ‘missing’ by those who could not find him in the last year of the war. Missing.
Their glory shall not be blotted out
This is what is written on his headstone.
His gravestone was added in 1923 with the words ‘Buried somewhere in this cemetery’; his remains discovered on the battlefield with several others. I can only imagine how his parents reacted when they received news five years after his death that her boy had been found on the battlefield.
Born in 1899, William was christened in 1901 at the very church his memorial stands. The oldest son of a large family – born in Birtsmorton and who grew up in the rural farm lands around the church. Willie’s loss to his family must have been great.
His father, Charles Allan Smith worked as a mason and general labourer. His resting place is in Birtsmorton churchyard not far from the memorial to his son.
In loving memory of
for many years employed at
to which he gave loyal and
Born January 18th 1875
Died February 15th 1944
Faithful unto death
Service to King and Country; service to employers and family.
The unreturned army of Birtsmorton.