Friday, November 11, 2011

Thankful villages

Click on the title for the BBC article which brought tears to my eyes. I knew there were thankful villages with several in my home county of Yorkshire. I did not know that two were close to my home there. 52 such communities from WWI and only 14 doubly thankful after WWII.

Contrast, 'Wadhurst, East Sussex - a place of just over 3,500 people which lost 649 men in WWI, ... on a single day in 1915 at the Battle of Aubers, 25 men from Wadhurst were killed - just under 80% of all those who went forward into no-man's land, and almost certainly the heaviest per capita casualties of any community in the UK for one day's battle. The majority of the fallen had no known grave.

Start Quote

Of about 700 "pals" from Accrington, Lancashire who participated in the Somme offensive, some 235 were killed and 350 wounded within just 20 minutes. By the end of the first hour, 1,700 men from Bradford were dead or injured. Some 93 of the approximately 175 Chorley men who went over the top at the same time died.'....

'Catwick, E. Yorks.Though it never had a war memorial, the windswept village had a commemoration of its own. At the outset of WWI, the village blacksmith, John Hugill, nailed a lucky horseshoe to the door of his forge. Around it, for each man who went to the war, he nailed a coin. When WWII broke out, he did the same again.

As Catwick was to prove doubly thankful, it was a remarkable monument. And yet when Hugill's workshop closed, the coins and the horseshoe were taken away from the door.

All were fixed to a board and eventually passed onto Hugill's grandson, now 60 and also called John Hugill, who still lives in Catwick, where he runs an engineering firm.

He has vowed never to let the memento leave the village and hopes to find a way to put it on public display. Hugill was too young to know his grandfather, while his father - who served as a Sergeant-at-Arms in the Home Guard during WWII - was reluctant to speak about his wartime experiences.

"All they wanted to do was forget it," Hugill says.

"When they're gone, you think, 'Why didn't we talk to each other about it?' But there was a big age gap - there'd been such a huge change in culture."


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