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
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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...
|Isle of Wight||330||180||(55%)||94||(28%)|
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
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
Scottish Cemeteries Completed
Welsh Cemeteries Completed
|Forename needs updating:||272|
|Civilian War Dead missing:||28|
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
Where I've been in 2016
Since starting phase 2 on 2nd Jan 2015