Added Nov 2011

A PERSONAL PILGRIMAGE TO

ST MARY MAGDALENE CHURCH WETHERSFIELD

ON REMEMBRANCE SUNDAY 2011

TO REMEMBER AND PAY TRIBUTE TO THOSE MEN FROM

WETHERSFIELD AND SHALFORD ( two small villages in North Essex) WHO

GAVE THEIR LIVES DURING the 1914-1918 and 1939-1945 WARS

.

legionThe Wethersfield and Shalford Branch of the British Legion was formed in 1930, the founder chairman being my late father Walter Sydney Harvey and its first president being Major Guy Gilbey Gold of Abbots Hall, Shalford. The Remembrance Day service is held on alternate years in each Parish Church. The names of all those from both villages who gave their lives are read out at each service.

The memorial in Wethersfield church is made of while marble and includes names of 21 men who lost their lives in the Great War. Of these 4 served in the Essex Regiment and 2 in the Essex Yeomanry The names of 4 men were added at the end of the 1939/45 War. none of whom served in the Essex Regiment or Yeomanry.

The memorial in St Andrew’s Church Shalford has the names of the fallen on brass plaques mounted on a carved oak frame. this being made by my father. It includes the names of 7 men who lost their lives in the Great War, four of whom served in the Essex Regiment. The names of 5 men were added at the end of the 1939/45 War.

Amongst these are Captain Rodney Wyman Gold of the Essex Yeomanry killed at Anzio on the 25th February 1944 and who is buried in the Anzio Cemetery. He was the son of Major Guy Gilbey Gold of Abbots Hall, Shalford who had served with the Essex Yeomanry in the Boer War as a Captain and in the Great War as Officer Commanding ’H' Squadron consisting of the Braintree and Finchingfield, Tiptree and Maldon, Halstead and Chelmsford Troops. Also on the memorial is that of Captain Eric William Ravilious, Royal Marines, the famous War Artist of WWII who at the time of his death was living in Shalford.

Amongst these names are those of two friends killed in the Great War. a Pte Sidney Whitehead of Shalford and a L/Cpi Herbert Thorogood of Wethersfield, both of the 9th Battalion Essex Regiment, who were-killed during the same action on the 2nd July 1916 during the Battle of the Somme and who are both commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial.

It had been 70 years since I had attended a service in Wethersfield Church, then I paraded with the 1st Wethersfield Scouts on Remembrance Sunday 1941, It was a bitterly cold day. How different this year, a very warm and sunny day. I had always promised myself a return visit and this year I made it and it was most certainly worth my long journey from Lincolnshire to Essex after my alarm clock had woken me up at 0530hrs.

My late father I am sure was looking down with some pride on the Branch he had helped found all those ago and still parading in some strength in numbers, even if not in full physical strength The passing years meaning some had to have the assistance or wheel chairs and walking sticks. But they were there to pay their own individual tribute At the other extreme was a young Territorial Army Captain who had served in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

Like many other services , that in Wethersfield saw the church full with the Branch Standard proudly carried to the Alter by an ex Sapper, Lawrence Rawlinson. How pleasing it was to hear the sound of the seven church bells ringing out across the village before the service, a Bugler playing the Last Post and Reveille and yes a Choir, how many small villages still have one. The retired Vicar who conducted the service was an ex National Serviceman whose sermon was really inspirational. He had accompanied the Branch a few years ago to conduct a service in Tyne Cot Cemetery and was also there at the Menin Gate when the Branch Standard was paraded at the Last Post Cemetery. He described this visit to the Western Front during his sermon as the most moving and memorable few days of his life.

Yes, it most certainly was worth the effort to make the journey and 1 wore my late fathers medals with some pride. He was born in Shalford and served in the Great War in the Household Battalion of the Household Cavalry, taking part in the Battles of Arras and Paschendaele. When this Battalion was disbanded in January 1918, he was transferred to the Royal Horse Guards Battalion of the Guards Machine Gun Regiment.

 

John W Harvey Bourne, Lincolnshire 14 November 2011

 

Web Admin

The above article is being submitted by John to the Westren Front Association for their records, John has also in the past submitted other articles to our On-Line memories section of our web.