Thursday, April 23, 2009

All Quiet...

A group of us are off to France tomorrow for a few days. The primary reason for going is to visit the Eastern Cemetery in Boulogne and pay our respects to Private Thomas Callow.

I need to check this but I think Thomas Callow was my great-great uncle (my grandfathers uncle). I've done a little research on him and it was remarkably easy to trace his route from Birmingham to a cemetery in France.

Thomas Callow signed up with the Army Special Reserve on 29th August 1912 at the age of 19 years and 5 months, meaning he was born sometime in March 1893. He joined the 3rd Battalion of the Worcestershire Regiment. As a reservist he was mobilised when war was declared in August 1914 and was shipped to France on 2nd November 1914.

On 12th March 1915 the 3rd Battalion of the Worcestershire Regiment attacked Spanbroek Mill near Lindenhoek in Belgium on the Western front, about 8 miles south of Ypres. Thomas Callow's Army service record reports that he was "Wounded"..."In action at "Lindenhoek"...G.S. wound "L.' Leg". I don't know on which date as his service record was damaged by fire in a German bombing raid on the War Office in London during 1940. However the "Effects of Wounds" reported in his service record are that Thomas Callow "Died 16 3/15" or the 16th March 1915.

The Worcestershire Regiment website tells us that "During the attack on Thursday 12th March 1915 the men of the 3rd Battalion Worcestershire Regiment suffered heavy casualties with 9 officers and 77 other ranks killed. All but two of the officers are burried at Kemmel Chateau Military Cemetery. All but four of the other ranks are remembered on a panel at Menin Gate Memorial at Ieper (Ypres).". Thomas Callows name is not amongst those listed as being remembered on the Menin Gate.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission website has this to say about Boulogne "Boulogne, was one of the three base ports most extensively used by the Commonwealth armies on the Western Front throughout the First World War. It was closed and cleared on the 27 August 1914 when the Allies were forced to fall back ahead of the German advance, but was opened again in October and from that month to the end of the war, Boulogne and Wimereux formed one of the chief hospital areas."

Now this is me making assumptions here but I guess Thomas was wounded while attacking the mill at Lindenhoek on 12th March 1915. Sometime between that date and 16th March 1915 he was moved to a hospital at Boulogne where he subsequently died from his wounds and was buried in Boulogne. He had served in the Worcestershire Regiment for 2 years and 200 days and was 21 years old, just short of his 22nd birthday.

My son is almost exactly the same age as Thomas was when he died. I can only begin to imagine how his parents James and Catherine reacted when they received the news of his death. A sobering tale indeed

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Plaque Security

I'm at an airport. One of my least favourite places.

I've just had all my toiletry items confiscated as apparently they are a security risk.

I'm willing to bet more people are killed every year in the UK due to murder, suicide and drunk driving than have been killed by terrorist attacks on aircraft leaving the UK in the last 10 years but still I can't take mouthwash to France !