Sep 14th

Where are the Poppies

By Mary B

Thanks to Janet H I have now planted my poppy on the map.....

www.wherearethepoppiesnow.org.uk/

It's another wonderful idea.

 

What I wrote:

"I am posting the picture of my poppy on the 103rd anniversary of the day my Grandfather, James Baker, was killed in action at Troyon, near Vendresse, on the southern slope of the Chemin des Dames ridge, north of the River Aisne. I researched his war and found he had walked 100 miles with his Regiment, the Royal Sussex, before meeting his death on 14th September 1914. I was privileged to be able to walk in his footsteps one hundred years later to the day. It was the most amazing and emotional nine days of my life, and something I will never forget. A lot of people helped with the project and one of the support team was my sister-in-law who very kindly gave me my poppy as a Christmas present in 2014. It was a lovely gesture and so my poppy is very definitely my grandfather, James. I have no letters from him, no photograph of him, and he has no known grave, so the poppy is particularly significant to me as I have so very little of him apart from his Soldiers Small Book. I love my poppy."

If there was more space I would have added that I used to keep my poppy in the garden, but I have brough it inside now as I don't want it to get spoilt.

Perhaps when I am much older I should make another pilgrimage to the battleground where he was killed and plant the poppy there - but I'm not sure the French farmer would appreciate that!

 

Aug 6th

Letter to an unknown soldier

By Sandy H

On platform One of Paddington station in London stands a war memorial featuring a life-size bronze statue of a soldier.  He is reading a letter.  No-one knows who the letter is from, or what message it contains.  To mark the centenary of the First World War, authors Neil Bartlett and Kate Pullinger invited people from around the world to step aside from the more official ceremonies of commemoration and imagine themselves sitting down and writing that letter.

 

People responded in their thousands.

Grandmothers and grandfathers, serving members of the armed forces, midwives, students, prisoners, children and even the Prime Minister wrote to the soldier.

Letters arrived from all over the country and eventually from all over the world.

Many well known writers, poets and personalities contributed.

 

The response to this project was extrordinary.  By the end of it's second week nearly ten thousand people had written to the soldier, and by the projects close, 21,439 had written.

The website opend on the 28th August 2014, the centenary of the moment Prime Minister Asquith announced to the House of Commons that Britain had joined the First World War.

As the letters arrived, they were published on the website and made available for everyone to read.  A selection of the letters has also been published as a book.

 

Letter to an unknown soldier will be archived until 2018.  After that, all of the letters will be archived in the British Library where they will remain permanently accessible online, providing a snapshot of what people in this country and across the world were thinking and feeling about the centenary of WW1.

                                     One of the letters in the book by ( anonymous )

 

Letter to my mssing son

I see you walking boldly into the early morning sun, head held high, long easy strides, a half smile on your face, looking towards the horizon.

With hope and an open heart you set out to save the world.

And then you disappeared..........

Where did you walk to my beloved son?

The sun rises every day, and still you are missing.

A trap has been perfectly set.

The loss is overwhelming, but I will never give up.

Though my eyes grow dimmed with the tears shed,  I will

walk every path until I can no longer walk.

Oftentimes, in a crowd, my heart quickens.  I catch a

glimps of a shadow, the turn of a head, the sound of a long-

lost voice, of music you played.

I thought I might die of grief 'you think you cannot keep

breathing..... and so that you may do it, God takes out your heart of flesh, and gives you a heart od stone.'

The door is wide open, you are a brave bold son, it is over, walk home.

Your ever-loving

Mum

 

            

May 15th

Battle of Jutland

By Janet H

 APPROACHING 100 YEARS SINCE THE BATTLE OF JUTLAND 

Just before four o’clock on the afternoon of May 31, 1916, a British naval force commanded by Vice Admiral David Beatty confronts a squadron of German ships, led by Admiral Franz von Hipper, some 75 miles off the Danish coast. The two squadrons opened fire on each other simultaneously, beginning the opening phase of the greatest naval battle of World War I, the Battle of Jutland. 

After the Battle of Dogger Bank in January 1915, the German navy chose not to confront the numerically superior British Royal Navy in a major battle for more than a year, preferring to rest the bulk of its strategy at sea on its lethal U-boat submarines. In May 1916, however, with the majority of the British Grand Fleet anchored far away, at Scapa Flow, off the northern coast of Scotland, the commander of the German High Seas Fleet, Vice Admiral Reinhard Scheer, believed the time was right to resume attacks on the British coastline. Confident that his communications were securely coded, Scheer ordered 19 U-boat submarines to position themselves for a raid on the North Sea coastal city of Sunderland while using air reconnaissance crafts to keep an eye on the British fleet’s movement from Scapa Flow. Bad weather hampered the airships, however, and Scheer called off the raid, instead ordering his fleet—24 battleships, five battle cruisers, 11 light cruisers and 63 destroyers—to head north, to the Skagerrak, a waterway located between Norway and northern Denmark, off the Jutland Peninsula, where they could attack Allied shipping interests and with luck, punch a hole in the stringent British blockade. 

Unbeknownst to Scheer, however, a newly created intelligence unit located within an old building of the British Admiralty, known as Room 40, had cracked the German codes and warned the British Grand Fleet’s commander, Admiral John Rushworth Jellicoe, of Scheer’s intentions. Consequently, on the night of May 30, a British fleet of 28 battleships, nine battle cruisers, 34 light cruisers and 80 destroyers set out from Scapa Flow, bound for positions off the Skagerrak. 

At 2:20 p.m. on May 31, Beatty, leading a British squadron, spotted Hipper’s warships. As each squadron maneuvered south to better its position, shots were fired, but neither side opened fire until 3:48 that afternoon. The initial phase of the gun battle lasted 55 minutes, during which two British battle cruisers, Indefatigable and Queen Mary were destroyed, killing over 2,000 sailors. At 4:43 p.m., Hipper’s squadron was joined by the remainder of the German fleet, commanded by Scheer. Beatty was forced to fight a delaying action for the next hour, until Jellicoe could arrive with the rest of the Grand Fleet. 

With both fleets facing off in their entirety, a great battle of naval strategy began among the four commanders, particularly between Jellicoe and Scheer. As sections of the two fleets continued to engage each other throughout the late evening and the early morning of June 1, Jellicoe maneuvered 96 of the British ships into a V-shape surrounding 59 German ships. Hipper’s flagship, Lutzow, was disabled by 24 direct hits but was able, before it sank, to sink the British battle cruiser Invincible. Just after 6:30 on the evening of June 1, Scheer’s fleet executed a previously planned withdrawal under cover of darkness to their base at the German port of Wilhelmshaven, ending the battle and cheating the British of the major naval success they had envisioned. 

The Battle of Jutland—or the Battle of the Skagerrak, as it was known to the Germans—engaged a total of 100,000 men aboard 250 ships over the course of 72 hours. The Germans, giddy from the glory of Scheer’s brilliant escape, claimed it as a victory for their High Seas Fleet. At first the British press agreed, but the truth was not so clear-cut. The German navy lost 11 ships, including a battleship and a battle cruiser, and suffered 3,058 casualties; the British sustained heavier losses, with 14 ships sunk, including three battle cruisers, and 6,784 casualties. Ten more German ships had suffered heavy damage, however, and by June 2, 1916, only 10 ships that had been involved in the battle were ready to leave port again (Jellicoe, on the other hand, could have put 23 to sea). On July 4, 1916, Scheer reported to the German high command that further fleet action was not an option, and that submarine warfare was Germany’s best hope for victory at sea. Despite the missed opportunities and heavy losses, the Battle of Jutland had left British naval superiority on the North Sea intact. The German High Seas Fleet would make no further attempts to break the Allied blockade or to engage the Grand Fleet for the remainder of World War I. 

PERSONAL INTEREST 

HMS Barham was one of the five Queen Elizabeth ‘fast’ battleships and was completed in 1915, joining 5th Battle Squadron as Vice-Admiral Hugh Evan-Thomas’s flagship. Barham’s main armament was eight 15 inch guns. The five ‘Queen Elizabeth’s’ of 5BS were arguably the most powerful warships afloat in the First World War. 

Attached to Vice Admiral David Beatty’s Battle Cruiser Fleet the 5BS ships were the only Battleships to exchange fire with the German High Seas Fleet over a period of hours during the Battle of Jutland on 31st May 1916, all four ships (HMS Queen Elizabeth was not present being in ‘dockyard hands’) suffering damage.  

WALTER  HENRY  FRYER 

My Grandfather Walter Henry Fryer, eldest son of Joshua and Alvina Fryer, was born 16th November 1893 in Princess Risborough Buckinghamshire. 

Walter’s occupation at the time of his enlistment into the Royal Navy was Post Boy his service began on 6th February 1911 aged 18 signing up initially for 12 years.  His Naval record describes him as 5ft 8ins tall, fair hair, blue eyes, fresh complexion with a scar on his right knee and left ankle. 

His first ship was HMS Ganges II; (a training ship) he is recorded here in the 1911 census stationed in Harwich as Boy 2nd Class Royal Navy Seaman Branch 4163. 

He served on HMS Barham between 19th August 1915 and 1st May 1920. During which time he was awarded the French Croix De Guerre for gallantry during the Battle of Jutland, he was also mentioned in Dispatches.  After Jutland Walter was promoted to Petty Officer for services in action.  

Walter went on to become Chief Petty Officer and a Naval policeman, his last service date was 30th June 1930 age 36. 

Walter and his wife Bertha stayed in Portsmouth until 1933, when they moved to Brighton with their family of two sons and 3 daughters. He worked as a relief manager for Edlin’s Brewery at first, staying in Brighton until his death aged 59, on 17th January 1953 of a Coronary Thrombosis 

I do have some  memories of him, but they are not that clear as I was only 4 when he died, but my mother said he had not considered himself brave, he just did what was necessary at the time, as did every single man involved, in all conflicts.                                               

 HMS Barham                          

                       

 

                                  Vice Admiral Evan Thomas with staff of 5th Battle Squadron

 

                                           Sick-Bay HMS Barham with Jutland casualties                     

                     

                              Vice Admiral Evan-Thomas’s dog Jack wounded at

                              Battle of Jutland 31-05-1916 on board HMS Barham

 

                                            King-George Vs inspection-of HMS-Barham    

                                 with Admirals-Beatty & EvanThomas     

                 

    Walter Henry Fryer-3 Comrades

                                            Walter Henry Fryer

 

Naval record