Ministry of Defence
Ministry of Defence

Lest We Forget
British Legion
The Royal British Legion


Baltonsborough War Memorial

World War 1 & 2 - Detailed information
Compiled and Copyright © Colin J. McNamee 2004
Photographs and Copyright © Colin J. McNamee 2004

History

Authors Note: It proved to be surprising to me that for such an important and prominent site, in a central location in a small village how little recorded history and knowledge was left within the village:  that so much had been lost, forgotten or destroyed in such a relatively short time.  It was also surprising that as my enquiries developed how many and varied became the routes for research.  What began out of curiosity and anticipated as straight forward, proved to be anything but......

Following meetings of the Baltonsborough War Memorial Committee the Rev. G. R. W. Carew, vicar of St. Dunstans Church, wrote on its behalf in November 1921 to the Ecclesiastical Commission, Westminster, London requesting permission to sell the corner site of an orchard in the centre of the village for the purpose of the village to construct a War Memorial.  On 18 November 1921 the Commission replied enclosing instructions and a proposal for the sale for a sum not less than £2. 10s. 0d.  A subsequent letter from the Commission dated 18 January 1922 agreed ‘.......  for the sale to the Baltonsborough War Memorial Committee of about One hundred and fifteen square yards of glebe land belonging to your Benefice...........’.

On 2 November 1921 the Rev. Carew also wrote to a stonemason, W.H.Snell & Son, Foundry House, Newlyn, Penzance, Cornwall requesting them to quote for a memorial  ‘confined to £50 ‘.  The reply, memorandum No.2 dated 8 November, indicates that the firm was personally known to the Rev Carew, ‘........ Cross and bases in proportion longer in Rough Rustic design as your mothers Cross and Kerb with dressed panel for letters’.  A memorandum, No. 58, dated 16 November 1921 handwritten in pencil from W H Snell to the Rev. Carew acknowledged receipt of the order to proceed and submitted two new designs, ‘delivered to local (railway) station, cost for either about £50’.  Granite was suggested as being about £12 cheaper than soft stone and more durable.  This second letter also congratulated Rev. Carew on his appointment as Vicar.

In January 1922 the Parish Magazine recorded an appeal to be made for subscriptions and at an Annual Parish Meeting on 13 March 1922 held in the Moravian School on Ham Street, the Parish Council agreed to take over (responsibility for) the War Memorial when ‘……..  it is completed, properly fenced in and paid for by private subscriptions’.

During August 1922 a service of dedication - with several ministers attending from St. Dunstans Church; the Moravian Church; St. Leonards, Butleigh; Bishops Lydeard (previously vicar of St. Dunstans) and Glastonbury parishes - was held at the memorial.  Brigadier General H. C. Frith, C.B., removed the Union Jacks (sic) covering the Cross and the Roll of Honour on the shell case with the following address:  ‘I unveil this cross and the shell to the Glory of God and in memory of those gallant men of Balsbury (previous name for Baltonsborough) who gave their lives for their king and country during the Great War’.  The address forms part of a full report in The Central Somerset Gazette dated 18th August 1922.

Also from this report the following inscription detail of the Cross and plinth is given:

‘A tall well proportioned cross of Portland stone................ The stone is rough dressed in the main, the edges of the shaft  and limbs of the cross axe-dressed.  In the massive socket-piece of the base there are sunk panels with finished plane surfaces.  On the panel facing the road is the subscription

To the glory of God and in proud and grateful memory
of the men of Baltonsborough who gave their lives for
their country in the Great War, 1914-1918.

2nd Lieut.  E. S. Griffin,  Kings Liverpool Reg.

Pte.  Ernest Higgins,  Middlesex Regiment

Pte.  A. H .W. Palfrey,  Royal Warwickshire

Pte.  Albert Parker,  Leicestershire Reg.

Pte.  Walter A. Brown, Som. Light Infantry

Pte.  Herbert G. Millard,  Som. Light Infantry

In the corner of the plot is a shell case with two inscriptions.  On the reverse on a brass plate is - Presented by the National War Savings Committee to the people of Baltonsborough to commemorate their notable contribution to war securities during gun week, 1918.

On the side facing the road (Martin Street) has been attached a large bronze plate Roll of Honour 1918 (sic).  In honoured remembrance of the men of Baltonsborough who fought in the Great War.  Then follows the names of six men who served in the Royal Navy; and from the Army, one officer,  5 sergeants,  3 corporals, and 53 men.Two of the names have D.C.M. added ’.

(Note: This newspaper report is the only occasion found where the Regimental names are referred to as being located on the memorial.  There is no subsequent evidence from various Minutes that they were removed.  The Regimental detail is correct).

A concert was held in the village school in December 1923 when the Deeds to the site were passed by the British Legion, Baltonsborough Branch to the Parish Council.

(Note: During this research the actual Deeds have not been traced and it is therefore possible that the land was purchased by another party and subsequently gifted to the Parish Council).

The British Legion was formed nationally on 1 July 1921, granted a Royal Charter in 1925 and became the Royal British Legion on 1 July 1971.  The Baltonsborough Branch was formed on 22 February 1923.

The War Memorials (Local Authorities Powers) Act, 1923 permitted local authorities under certain circumstances to maintain, repair and protect war memorials vested in them.  (Note:  Amendments were made in 1948 for World War 11 and 1972 to enable Local Authorities to include additional names).

Following the 1939-1945 World War a Public Meeting was held on 28 July 1949 to discuss and arrange finance for the addition of the names (only) to the Memorial plinth facing Church Lane:

Stoker 

H. F.

Burge

(Royal Navy, H.M.S. Duke)

Sgt. 

J.J.

Gratton

(RAF Volunteer Reserve, 75th Squadron)

During this meeting a Church Magazine dated December 1923 was referred to, and minuted, which reported that the Parish Council shall be responsible for the upkeep of the War Memorial as Trustees.  The total cost of the War Memorial was reported as £111-7s.

The service of dedication took place on Sunday 6 November 1949 and the unveiling was undertaken by Lieutenant-Colonel J.A.Garton, M.C.

Second Lieutenant John Richings, Royal Tank Regiment died on 28 May 1942, aged 25. His memorial is on the Alamein Memorial, Egypt.  At his family's request his name was not included on the village Memorial.  His name is included in the Remembrance Service held each year in Baltonsborough.

There are eight matched requiescat in pace flower vases in Portland stone on the steps of the memorial.  Although not referred to in any documents seen, early photographs, circa 1930s, show the vases and it may be assumed that they were part of the original design with another two being added in 1949.

Memorial Shell CaseThe shell case is sited on a stone (which may have come from a local quarry) and rests on a millstone which almost certainly originated from Farrants Mill (Baltonsborough Mill).  The millstone is located on a ring of supporting brickwork.

The shell case is from a 15 inch diameter 1400lbs HE shell for use in the 15 in. BL Siege Howitzer, range 10,795 yards, developed in 1915 from the 9.2 in. design by the Coventry Ordnance Works.  A total of twelve 15in howitzers were made and were originally given to the Navy for use in France before being passed over to the Army in 1916.

As was the custom after a war (appears to have ended following World War 1) the government used to acknowledge monies raised by communities by offering on a monetary scale a piece of armament to the locality.  The 15 inch diameter shell case was the acknowledgement to Baltonsborough as detailed on the brass plate.  The screws securing the plate corroded and the plate fell off in November 1960.

The original chains and concrete posts were put up to protect the site from cattle.  The chains were removed as part of the World War 11 war effort when metal railings and chains were removed from houses, public buildings and parks throughout the UK for smelting for use in the manufacture of armaments.   In mid 1943 wire was temporarily used at the Memorial to keep cattle out and the question of replacement chains was minuted 24 March 1947. No subsequent actions noted although it may be assumed chains were fitted.  The existing chains were fitted in April/May 1960.

The installation of Coronation Gates was agreed at a meeting 17 June 1953 and completed in 1955 following various minuted discussions, with a contribution of £5.2s.8d towards costs received from the village Coronation Committee.

At an Annual Parish Meeting 17 May 1977 it was agreed that in celebration of the Queens Jubilee Year to replace the Coronation Gates with a new pair for which it was hoped to raise £100.  Some time between May 1980 and May 1981 the new gates were fitted.  In 1983 a collection raised £70 to provide new posts fronting the memorial.  Both the Silver Jubilee gates and posts remain in position.

In 1986 a small housing development at the rear of the memorial (on the remains of the original orchard) resulted in a Beech hedge being planted to provide a backdrop screen for the site.

At meetings on 22 May 1989 and 12 September 1996 Parish Council Minutes note the Cross as having been cleaned.  There is a minuted history of co-operation between the Parish Council and the Royal British Legion in the upkeep of the village War Memorial.

A collection in the village during the summer of 1999 quickly raised £352 for refurbishment and replanting of the garden.  The refurbishment included renovation of the shell case to contain and prevent further rusting behind the Roll of Honour plaque.  During the removal of the black paint covering the plaque, which is made of copper and not bronze as reported previously, greater detail was revealed; a cross after the names of those who died; and the manufacturers name in the bottom right hand corner, G. Maile & Son, 367 Euston Rd., London.

The renovation work was done with the assistance of Serco Aerospace in redrilling the shell case and the cleaning and re-polishing of the copper plaque from  RNAS Yeovilton and Mr. Michael Vernon.  The copper plaque was lacquer sprayed by South West Body Works, Glastonbury to maintain the copper finish.  The plaque was refixed with stainless steel bolts from Wincanton Engineering of Sherborne.  The work and materials were supplied free of charge by those involved and their contribution was gratefully acknowledged.  During the refurbishment all site stonework was cleaned.

Roll of Honour

Below is the Roll of Honour, those marked † gave their lives. Note: The place of birth and residence is as on their attestation papers, these are not always entirely correct.

ROLL OF HONOUR
1914 - 1918.

IN HONOURED REMEMBRANCE
OF THE MEN OF
BALTONSBOROUGH

Royal Navy

BUTTLE

A

No further information currently available

CLOSE

W

No further information currently available

DUNKERTON

M

No further information currently available

LINHAM

H

No further information currently available

PORTER

C

No further information currently available

REYNOLDS

E

No further information currently available

Army

GRIFFIN

Edward Stanley

† 2nd Lieutenant, 6th (Rifle) Battalion (Territorial), King's 9Liverpool Regiment). Killed in action 31st July 1917. No known grave. Commemorated on Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial, Ieper, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium. Panel 4 and 6.

ROGERS, DCM

V

Sergeant

BUSH

W M

Sergeant

GOODSON

P

Sergeant

GREEDY

P B

Sergeant

MILLARD

J B

Sergeant

CLARE

T

Corporal

BURGE

P

Corporal

GOODSON

J N

Corporal

ARNOLD

H

Private

BIGGIN

E

Private

BROWN

Walter Albert

† Private 295470, 12th (West Somerset Yeomanry) Battalion, Somerset Light Infantry. Killed in action 2nd September 1918 in France & Flanders. Aged 28. Born Baltonsborough, enlisted Taunton, resident Blatonsborough. Nephew of Miss M. Brown, of Baltonsborough, Glastonbury, Somerset. Formerly 1861, West Somerset Yeomanry. Buried in Peronne Communal Cemetery Extension, Somme, France. Plot III. Row D. Grave 24.

BURGE, DCM

L

Private

BURGE

B

Private

BUSH

C

Private

BUSH

B

Private

BUSH

A F

Private

BUSH

W G

Private

BUSH

F H

Private

BUSH

E S

Private

BUSH

W S

Private

BUSH

FG

Private

BUSH

A

Private

CLOSE

C

Private

CLOSE

F

Private

CLOSE

M

Private

COWARD

C

Private

DUNKERTON

G

Private

FARRANT

E

Private

FARRANT

J

Private

FARTHING

M

Private

GODDARD

L

Private

GOULD

E

Private

GILL

R

Private

GREEDY

W

Private

GREEN

C

Private

GRIFFIN

A

Private

GRIFFIN

L

Private

GUY

W

Private

HATCHER

L

Private

HIGGINS

Ernest

† Private TF/6842 [Listed as TF/202540 on CWGC], 1st/7th Battalion, Duke of Cambridge's Own (Middlesex Regiment). Killed in action 17th August 1917 in France & Flanders. Enlisted Wells, resident Glastonbury. No known grave. Commemorated on Tyne Cot Memorial, Zonnebeke, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium. Panel 113 to 115.

HODGES

W

Private

HOOPER

H

Private

JAMES

E

Private

JENNINGS

G

Private

KEYS

A

Private

LESTER

H

Private

MARSH

F

Private

MILLARD

Herbert G

† Private 19365, Somerset Light Infantry. Died at home 13th March 1921. Aged 24. Son of Alice S. Millard, of Lubborne Lane, Baltonsborough, Glastonbury, and the late John Millard. Buried in St Dunstan Churchyard, Baltonsborough, Somerset.

MILLARD

M

Private

NICHOLAS

E

Private

PALFERY

Alfred William Harold

† [Spelt PALFREY on SDGW] Private 303006, 1st Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment. Killed in action 15th April 1918 in France & Flanders. Aged 26. Born Wellington, enlisted Aston, resident Saltley College, Birmingham. No known grave. Commemorated on Ploegsteert Memorial, Comines-Warneton, Hainaut, Belgium. Panel 2 and 3.

PARKER

Albert Edward James

† Private 41489, 1st Battalion, Leicestershire Regiment. Killed in action 16th April 1916 [SDGW lists as 1918] in France & Flanders. Born Downend, enlisted Taunton and resident Batlonsborough. No known grave. Commemorated on Commemorated on Tyne Cot Memorial, Zonnebeke, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium. Panel 50 to 51.

PORTER

G

Private

PORTER

J

Private

RAWLES

J

Private

RAWLES

W

Private

ROGERS

A

Private

ROGERS

R

Private

SMALL

W

Private

WETHERELL

F

Private

YOUNG

A

Private

WORLD WAR 2

BURGE

Harold F

Stoker 2nd Class D/KX 129483, H.M.S. Duke, Royal Navy. Died 1st June 1941. Aged 24. Husband of P. M. Burge, of Butleigh. Buried north-west of the church tower in St Dunstan Churchyard, Baltonsborough, Somerset.

GRATTON

John James

Sergeant (Air Gunner) 1351568, 75 (New Zealand) Squadron, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve. Died 24th August 1943 while flying a Stirling from Mepal Airfield, Cambridgeshire. Buried in Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery, Berlin, Germany. Collective grave Plot 6. Row E. Graves 12-19. Note: Graves were brought to the cemetery from the Berlin area and from eastern Germany*. The great majority of those buried here, approximately 80 per cent of the total, were airmen who were lost in the air raids over Berlin and the towns in eastern Germany. *Leipzig, Konigsberg, Iena, Dresden, Halle, Rostock, Teltow, Wismar, Mittenwalde, Neuburzdorf, Magdeburg, Grunberg, Doberitz, Buchholz, Halberstadt, Blankenburg, Gotha, Tannenburg, Potsdam, Weder, Tessau, Stralsund, Schweren, Munsdorf, Brandenburg and Schonwalde.

WHO FOUGHT IN THE
GREAT WAR.


Sources:      

  • Archive & Record Office, Somerset County Council, Taunton
  • Baltonsborough Parish Council, Minutes 1898 - 1999
  • British Artillery Weapons & Ammunition 1914-1918. - Hogg & Thurston
  • Central Somerset Gazette, 18 August 1922
  • Imperial War Museum
  • Ministry of Defence Pattern Room, Nottingham
  • Notes on Guns and Howitzers in the Field. - Vickers Ltd. 1918
  • Parish Magazines
  • Royal British Legion, HQ; & Baltonsborough - Branch Minutes 1950- 99
  • St. Dunstans Church,  Parish Records
  • War Graves Commission  ( Tel: 01628 634221,  internet:  www.cwgc.org  e-mail: casualty.enq@cwgc.org)

With thanks to:

  • Andrew Bond - Computer enhancement of the early
  • photographs, additional photography and transparencies.
  • Graham Isom - Photographs October 1999 following the refurbishment.

25 November 2004

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