Longburton War Memorial
The 'Lest we Forget' article published in the previous edition of the Longburton and District News raised a number of questions which this article will attempt to address.
The main question was the status of the 'green plaque' mounted on the War Memorial railings and whether this is a temporary measure and whether villagers have a say on its retention?
The story behind the plaque goes back quite some way but for everyone's benefit I'll try to keep it short.
It was around 2014 that a number of residents asked the Parish Council if something could be done to make the inscription on the memorial more legible. It was felt important to do something as we would be celebrating the centenary of World War 1 over the coming few years. The Parish Council were willing to investigate but at the time had no idea what this would entail!!
Suffice to say that after investigation it was discovered that the memorial is a Listed Structure making it subject to the same planning restrictions that apply, for example, to Listed Buildings. Furthermore the walls surrounding it are subject to ecclesiastical regulations which are similar to planning regulations - only slightly less predictable.
When stonemasons were asked to advise it was also discovered that the stone used in the memorial is not of good quality making any attempt to re-cut or modify the engraving highly risky – with the risk being that the stone could flake or crack causing damage or loss to the inscription. Such a result was unacceptable.
Faced with these problems the Parish Council decided to avoid the risk and expense of trying to improve the inscription on the War Memorial itself and instead to duplicate the inscription on a small, hard-wearing plaque that could be mounted discreetly on the railings. The plaque was produced locally and attached to the railings mid-2017.
In conclusion and in answer to the questions raised in the April article. Yes it is the Parish Council's intension that the plaque remains on display so that all who want can find out who from this area gave their lives for us in the First World War.
As for ownership of the War Memorial. The investigations carried out as part of the above process highlighted that the memorial was funded, at least partly, by private subscription and was authorised to be erected on church land by ecclesiastic order which presumably had the support of the community. However, there are no formal records of ownership. It was never formally registered on the Land Registry and because of this it is debatable exactly who owns it. In all probability the earlier article summed the situation up accurately in stating that the War Memorial belongs to the community.
With this uncertainty the Parish Council have assumed ongoing responsibility for the War Memorial's maintenance. If any resident wishes to raise an issue this should be addressed to the Parish Council - in the first instance at least.
Hope this is helpful.
Tom Gilchrist – on behalf of the Cam Vale Parish Council
'Lest we forget'
A Follow-Up to earlier articles on the Longburton War Memorial
When asked to improve the legibility of the inscription on the War Memorial (way back in late 2015) I could not have appreciated what would be involved. Initially the task was to identify who owned the memorial - which was a real surprise! Having done this the next task was to find a cost effective solution that would be acceptable to those with an 'overseeing' interest – eg. The WDDC Planning and ecclesiastic authorities. Eventually, all of these problems were resolved and now we can clearly identify the names as originally recorded.
The thought then came to mind; so we have the names but who were these men? Does making their names more visible do justice to what they did? Does it all really matter 100 years after the event? In essence - do we care – an important question for all of us as we once again approach another Remembrance Day.
I believe people still do care as demonstrated by residents, without prompting, asking for the inscription to be made legible. This sentiment was underlined in the responses received to a questionnaire published in this magazine where it was asked if the effort should be made to improve the inscription's legibility. The overwhelming response was that something should be done and that the Parish Council should spent the necessary resources.
One poignant remark made in a questionnaire response was along the lines – how can we say we will remember them when we can't read their names.
Now we can read the names but what do the names mean for us today - who were these men?
It is not possible to cover all of those named in this short article but to to pick on a few:
The nine men listed came from a diverse group. Mainly local farm workers and labourers with one exception. This was Gareth Hamilton Fletcher who lived at Leweston Farm and was related to the owner of Sherborne Castle. He was born and enlisted in London and of those listed on our memorial was the first to be killed. He died on 25 Jan 1915 in France aged just 20 and the indications are that he has no known grave. It is appropriate then that he should be remembered here in Longburton.
The youngest named on the list is (Robert) Leslie Biddlecombe who was only 18 when killed. He died on the 9 Oct 1918, only days before the war ended! How tragic for his family. As if this was not enough the family had already suffered a previous loss when Leslie's older brother William (Charles) Biddlecombe, was killed earlier in the conflict. William Biddlecombe died in Feb 1916 aged only 20 having been badly wounded and sent home. Unfortunately he did not recover but died of his injuries. William Biddlecombe is the only one of the nine listed to be buried in the St James the Great's church yard. These two brothers were part of a family of six.
As an aside, and whether it is related is not known, but between these two deaths their father, Robert Biddlecombe, died in Dec 1916 aged only 46. His wife (and the boys' mother) Eliza Biddlecombe, never re-married. She died much later, at the healthy age of 71, in Sep 1937 in Weymouth, from where the family came originally.
It is hoped to provide similar short pen-pictures of the others listed on the war memorial at a future date.
On Remembrance day perhaps we can hold a mental picture of these mem in our heads when we have our minute's silence.
Please see below for more information
Inscription on memorial:
TO THE MEMORY OF GOD AND
IN GRATEFUL MEMORY OF THE
MEN OF LONGBURTON WHO
GAVE THEIR LIVES FOR THEIR
COUNTRY IN THE GREAT WAR
1914 – 1918
Gareth Hamilton Fletcher - Grenadier Guards (att'd Scots Guards)
William James Squibb - 7th Hussars
Joseph Squibb – Army Veterinary Corps
Charles Edwin Cadie - 1st Dorset Yeomanry
Alfred George Anthony - Machine Gun Corps
Harry Cousins - 5th Dorset Regt
Ernest Cox - 6th Somerset Light Infantry
William Biddlecombe - Dorset Yeomanry
Leslie Biddlecombe - North Somerset Yeomanry