Around Britain on a mobility scooter

fund raising on behalf of...

1st The Queens Dragoon Guards Benevolent Fund Help for Heros Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association The Royal British Legion The Royal National Lifeboat Institution

 

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Time passed:
1
1
5
5
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3
8
8
Days since I started

 

 28413.35 miles

£72,120.34 raised

War Graves and Memorials

 

23017.38

 

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A review of 2016

It has been another year of learning and it doesn't seem to stop! Also another year of discoveries, whether it be the grave of a Knight from the Crusades or a new memorial window being fitted to a church in the New Forest remembering the ANZAC's of The Great War!

My knowledge is expanding rapidly and trying to remember everything is hard work.

I wouldn't be able to find and document or photograph any of this without my wonderfully trusty Tramper TWS, Beamer have kept me going with replacement tyres and inner tubes and on one occasion a replacement switch after I wore one out through too much use! It is thought I have put my poor Tramper through roughly fifteen years use in three and a half years, it really is a remarkable machine, to top it off I'm still on my FIRST set of batteries... may I say I love it to bits, if I didn't I wouldn't be doing this still ;)

It does feel extremely unrewarding at times though...

It has been a bad year both mentally and physically, on the plus side it has been a good year for the memorials and graves, I started in Dorset, then on to Hampshire and finishing off parts of Somerset that I didn't manage to get done last year.

Again Tesco, Greene King and the many small businesses and families that allow me to plug in the scooter and welcome the cats and myself have enabled me to keep going and raising money for the charities, without all of these I'd get nowhere, thank you everyone that has supported, donated or looked after myself or the cats since the 7th April 2013.

What I do

I base myself in one location, leave the cats and trailer behind and head out to find the graves and memorials. Not having the trailer means I can cut through little pathways or pavements instead of battling traffic. It can take some of the larger towns and cities quite a number of days to get to find and photograph everything. I also have to work on the old World War Two counties for the War Graves and pre-1974/1996 counties for memorials, this does cause me a few headaches!

  • Bournemouth and Christchurch used to be Hampshire, now Dorset.
  • Avon is now North Somerset, Bristol, Bath and North-east Somerset and South Gloucestershire
  • I'm not going to even start listing the Welsh counties!

I also don't head out in the rain, I have trouble getting things dry and graveyards can be miserable enough in fine weather. I will head out in the morning and normally return by mid-afternoon and then download the images and start cataloguing them.

I do put a lot of hours into this, I won't say how many exactly but even if I was on minimum wage I'd be very well off!

I'll be covering South Wales until the end of April and then to Andover for the Plain Invasion weekend, then it will be Gloucestershire for five months and then I suppose South Wales again.

How I work...

I travel on my scooter with a tablet computer on the front, this displays an Ordnance Survey map with my position marked on it, when I get to a location I open a document on the tablet and check what is supposed to be there whether that be graves or memorials.


This is Cardiff, the yellow and black circles denote a memorial or memorials at or near that location, the yellow triangles denote war graves. My list for Cardiff is for 229 memorials, I've shortened the list:

  Mem ID Memorial Title Place What
1 6643 Cardiff Spanish Civil War Alexandra Gardens Stone of remembrance
2 6652 Cardiff - Falklands War Alexandra Gardens Stone of remembrance
3 6640 Welsh National War Memorial Alexandra Gardens Composite
4 70401 W R Thomas All Saints Church Board / Plaque / Tablet
5 70420 All Saints Church - WW1 and WW2 All Saints Church Board / Plaque / Tablet
6 65108 Merchant Seafarers From Cardiff, Penarth and Barry - WW2 Assembly Buildings Board / Plaque / Tablet
7 65340 Albany Road Baptist Church Parishioners - WW1 Baptist Church Board / Plaque / Tablet
8 65341 Albany Road Baptist Church Parishioners - WW2 Baptist Church Board / Plaque / Tablet
9 51085 Heath School WW1 Birchgrove Primary School Board / Plaque / Tablet
10 14153 Cardiff Gas Light And Coke Company British Gas Callaghan Square Offices Board / Plaque / Tablet
11 50950 Broadway Wesleyan Church WW1 Broadway Wesleyan Church Window
12 6639 Butetown Parishioners Cross Butetown Cross
13 37155 Albert Davies and Victoria Baptists - WW1 Calvary Baptist Church Roll of honour or book of remembrance
14 37153 Hope Chapel Baptists - WW1 #1 Calvary Baptist Church Board / Plaque / Tablet
15 37154 Hope Chapel Baptists - WW1 #2 Calvary Baptist Church Board / Plaque / Tablet
16 6683 Canton High School Cantonian High School Roll of honour or book of remembrance
17 6881 Cardiff Athletic Club Cardiff Arms Park Club House Board / Plaque / Tablet
18 13504 Merchant Navy Seamen Cardiff Bay Sculptured / Cast figure
19 64969 Cardiff Railway Staff Cardiff Central Railway Station Board / Plaque / Tablet
20 68497 Cardiff Central Cardiff Central Station Board / Plaque / Tablet
21 65364 Merchant Navy Association (wales) Cardiff City Hall Board / Plaque / Tablet
22 60546 2/7th (cyclist) Battlion The Welch Regiment Cardiff City Hall Board / Plaque / Tablet
23 6665 Cardiff And District Post Office Cardiff Gpo Sorting Office Roll of honour or book of remembrance
24 14156 Royal Infirmary Clinical And Pathological Laboratory Cardiff Gpo Sorting Office Hospital / Clinic
25 60558 Cardiff Post Office Staff Cardiff Head Post Office Roll of honour or book of remembrance
26 6657 Cardiff High School Cardiff High School Board / Plaque / Tablet
27 6667 Cardiff Hebrew Congregation WW2 Cardiff Orthodox Synagogue Board / Plaque / Tablet
28 6666 Cardiff Hebrew Congregation WW1 Cardiff Orthodox Synagogue Board / Plaque / Tablet
29 30105 2Lt W H Seager Cardiff Royal Infirmary Board / Plaque / Tablet
30 30100 Welsh National School Of Medicine WW2 Cardiff Royal Infirmary Window
31 6676 Guest Keen and Nettlefolds Ltd - WW1 and WW2 Castle Works Board / Plaque / Tablet
32 17646 Charles Street Wesleyans - WW1 Cathays Cemetery Board / Plaque / Tablet
33 65111 French Sailors - WW1 Cathays Cemetery Board / Plaque / Tablet
34 65338 Howard Gardens Grammar School Cathays Cemetery Board / Plaque / Tablet
35 37164 CWGC Cross of Sacrifice Cathays Cemetery Cross - Commonwealth War Graves Commission
36 60526 2lt W H Seager Cathays Cemetery Addition to gravestone
37 60528 2lt J R Ball Cathays Cemetery Addition to gravestone
38 60529 Cwgc Cross Cathays Cemetery Cross - Commonwealth War Graves Commission
39 60559 Welsh National Falklands Memorial Cathays Park Stone of remembrance
40 6642 Raoul Wallenberg Cathays Park Avenue / Tree or grove
41 2133 Welsh National South African War Cathays Park Composite
42 6688 Llandaff and Llandaff Cathedral School Cathedral School Sculptured / Cast group
43 65330 Welsh National School Of Medicine - WW2 Chapel of Cardiff Royal Infirmary (Now Closed) Window
45 6644 Polish Memorial City Hall Board / Plaque / Tablet

There are a lot of inconsistencies across the original memorial recording system, I have have found some people would record all military memorials in a church and some would only record The Great War and World War Two leaving out the Rolls of Honour for each of these! This means I can go into a church for example expecting to find two memorials and come out with up to ten!

I also find the odd one named or titled incorrectly, I visited Alcoa in Swansea (Waunarlwydd) the other day, there was one memorial recorded there as “Alcoa Memorial Stone”, I found it was actually an ICI memorial, Alcoa being a company that took over the site. So it should have been the “ICI Memorial Stone” at Alcoa, Waunarlwydd, I think this is where the OCD bit comes in.

I do also get asked why didn't I make an appointment when I turn up at a school etc, the simple answer is I can't, as I mentioned I have marks on a map and I have no idea what or where they are until I turn up.

I do also have the frustrating problem of churches being locked, I understand the reasons but it does make my life awkward. I have before now arrived at a church to find it locked and a note on the door, “If you find the church locked please call at Bluebell Cottage for the key” or “Please ring 871234 for access”, two problems here, where is the cottage and what's the area code? I did have one church near Shepton Mallet, three mobile numbers listed and one local number, I couldn't get an answer from any...

The images of the graves and memorials I've managed to get online so far are at www.war-graves.co.uk

My disability...

I have been questioned many times about my disability, without a disability I would have no need of a mobility scooter. I was injured on the 1st October 1991 whilst attached to the United Nations from my Regiment, 1st The Queen's Dragoon Guards (aka The Welsh Cavalry) in Cyprus and the medical term is “Internal derangement of the right knee with common peroneal nerve palsy”, this means I can't feel my right leg below the knee, I also have arthritis creeping through my main joints and reactive depression as a knock on from this.

All of the above have had a huge impact this last year, I fell in March and damaged the left-hand side of my body, in particular the left shoulder, it still hurts nine months later and my depression has been at an all time low in the latter quarter of the year with having a bit of a meltdown at the beginning of December, I am still struggling as I write this between Christmas and New Year.

The Memorials

All the images and information gets sent back to the Imperial War Museum so that records can be added or updated, this is one of the most satisfying parts of the challenge, the fact that not only am I raising money for the charities but that I am also doing something useful.

I aim to get 55% or more memorials in a county, again two years in and I now know more about what I'm looking for and where they might be as well. I don't go past a church, a park, a NatWest Bank, a Town Hall, in fact they can be anywhere! I have had to turn into a nosey person and I also suspect I have developed OCD in doing this... what I can say it is at times hugely humbling and also fulfilling.

All the figures can be found on the last pages of this document.

The Graves

These are still a personal goal more than anything else, I suppose it's a way of saying thank you to those men and women that gave their lives in the two World Wars and the many conflicts before, in between and after, so that we can live how we do today. I do send feedback back to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission when I find a problem and I've found quite a few!

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission maintain a Book of Remembrance in Westminster Abbey and have the lists of 65,000+ casualties on their website I have however come across some not recorded by them (the headstone is clearly marked as “Killed by Enemy Action”), I used to send them the details but after being asked to provide Death certificates and newspaper clippings I no longer do, I have enough on my “plate” without doing this.

The Cats

They are both fine, Missy still loves to meet people and have a good sniff and a tickle, Smudge is more than happy when he is on my knee having a tickle! One of the things I've noticed he doesn't like is people on stairs, balconies etc, not sure why?

I still take the odd bit of grief from some people because I have them on leads when in public spaces, they, like many animals have no road sense! I don't think anyone would complain if they were stuck in a house day after day just because they couldn't see them!

They do get let off the lead especially if I'm on a campsite and not near a road, Smudge is the more trustworthy one by far, Missy is just a troublemaker! I let her off on one campsite and within two minutes she was in that amount of caravans, the second didn't like cats which caused a bit of a problem, she now stays on a flexi-lead or if room allows a one hundred foot lead and a spike in the ground unless we are well away from other campers.

I do get told they should be free to catch things, they don't need to be free, they catch them when they are on their short travel leads, invariably when we have just pulled in and I'm setting up the trailer!

The Book!

Myself and Mrs Alison Brown have been let down hugely on this, I was contracted by Two Ravens Press to write it and got it too them before last Christmas and they seem to have disappeared off the face of the earth! I can't do anything with it until they tell me they are no longer interested or no longer in business, the charities also suffer in a way as they were to get money from the sale of any of the books.

Facebook and Twitter

Facebook.com/aroundbritain1 & Twitter.com/aroundbritain

I tend to access these using my tablet and apps, these don't show me all the messages or friend requests, I can only apologise in the delays getting back to some of you.

I'll also use these mediums to send out a short update instead of putting one on my website and then on to these.

Statistics

At the end of the day this whole thing comes down to numbers, these figures are as at the New Years Day, so here goes...

Memorials

County All Done New *
Avon 986 184 (19%) 136 (14%)
Devon 1416 410 (29%) 366 (26%)
Dorset 1117 470 (42%) 314 (28%)
Gwent 299 15 (5%) 20 (7%)
Hampshire 2070 1146 (55%) 876 (42%)
Isle of Wight 330 180 (55%) 94 (28%)
Somerset 952 680 (71%) 507 (53%)
South Glamorgan 360 5 (1%) 5 (1%)
West Glamorgan 151 42 (28%) 42 (28%)
Wiltshire 706 96 (14%) 91 (13%)
Totals 11638 3228 (28%) 2451 (21%)

New should really say * Possibly New, I get sent a list in advance of me starting a county, I don't get an update if something has been added after it was sent to me, there is also the odd occasion when a memorial has moved with a regimental headquarters or museum is moved and may be recorded in another county. As I send everything in to the Imperial War Museum in London they will have the final say as to whether something gets added to the register, I make find something obscure that should be recorded and they may decide no.

What defines a Memorial can be seen here: http://tinyurl.com/h8enx63

War Dead

All 16034 Non combat deaths 2426 2314 95% Crimean War 1 1 The Great War 1914 - 1918 133049 7691 6% World War Two 1939 - 1945 179615 5930 3% Northern Ireland 1969 - 2008 665 52 8% Falklands Conflict 1982 258 22 9% Bosnia 72 2 3% Afghanistan 2001 - 2014 395 14 4% Iraq 2003 - 2008 179 8 4%

It needs to be remembered that I only cover Great Britain so I only have the records for these and some totals will change as and when I find out where some are buried.

English Cemeteries Completed

Devon 379 176 46%
Dorset 194 112 58%
Hampshire 351 247 70%
Lancashire 567 1 0%
Somerset 357 256 72%
Wiltshire 274 213 78%

Scottish Cemeteries Completed

Shetland 40 1 3%

Welsh Cemeteries Completed

Glamorganshire 246 18 7%
Monmouthshire 118 3 3%

Headstone problems

Regiment/Service wrong: 214
Emblem wrong: 3
Damaged: 7
Forename needs updating: 272
Nearly unreadable: 32
Civilian War Dead missing: 28
Other problems: 46

Raised without Gift Aid: £68,089.29

Raised with Gift Aid: £69,471.04

Mileage so far : 25,455.79

Mileage in 2016: 6813.83 at an average of 6 mph

Photographs: 24867


Where I've been in 2016


Since starting phase 2 on 2nd Jan 2015

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