Monday 24 December 2012

Christmas Truce - Christmas Eve 1914 on the Western Front - Poem

Christmas Eve -  Western Front 1914

This is a photograph I took of a brilliant painting by Artist Soren Hawkes.
To see more of his fabulous work (which you can buy) go to:


Reading from an Officers diary for Christmas Eve 1914 it says:
"We dined tonight at 9.30. The table was decorated, there were ten present. Spirits were high and the beer and turkey were excellent, so were the plum puddings."

The men at the front, however, did get a Christmas dinner and a gift of a pudding from the Queen, but their surroundings were bleak.  They did get a surprise though!

If you click on the arrow you can watch a video from the wonderful film Oh What a Lovely War which tells the story of the 1914 Christmas Truce - the singing is amazing.

To read more about the Truce - try this (click here)

I have written another poem about the Truce - if you would also like to read the earlier one, just click here

I hope you enjoy the poem.

When peace came down at Christmas.

Were they ready
                   for the day when it came?
To pay the price -
                          the ultimate sacrifice.
 In a land they didn’t call home.
“It’ll be over by Christmas,”
                             their loved ones believed,
but all of them knew:
                    their hopes were deceived.
Each one waiting.
Their  Cherubim - a different kind.

Were they ready,
                   for the day when it came?
Enveloped in calm,
                     they laid down their arms,
To listen,
          and watch peace unfurl.
Did they dare go over the top?
          To greet and frat and swap,
            offering gifts to those they should kill.
Each one waiting.
A haven in the midst of hell.

Were they ready,
                   for the day when it came?
A quietness fell,
                    no sound of a shell.
Silence covered the land.
Then singing was heard
                               on the night of goodwill.
Exchanges made,
                       the night so still
When peace came down at Christmas.
Each one waiting.
Fritz waved a greeting – or was it farewell?

© Karen Ette 

Saturday 10 November 2012

Syston lads remembered: step- brothers paying the ultimate sacrifice

Up the Line

Serre Road Cemetery No. 1, Somme.

Up the line

Standing in rows

A whistle blows.
Loved ones weeping.
In the fields
Poppies grow,
Where friends and foe
Are sleeping.
In our hearts
We hold them dear
Who knew no fear.
Memoria keeping.
We will remember them.

Lance Corporal 24396 Whattoff Adcock
2nd Btn South Staffs Regt
Killed in Action 15 November 1916
Age - 27

Private 10830 G E Wade (Ernest)
7th Btn Leicestershire Regiment
Killed in Action - 1st October 1917
Age - 23


 Answering their country's call

© Karen Ette 

Saturday 4 February 2012

46 (North Midland) Division Memorial - Angles - Degrees - Loss

On 13th October 1915, at 2.00 p.m. (1400 hrs) the men of the 46th Division went ‘over the top’ in an attempt to capture the Hohenzollern Redoubt.

137th Brigade went first and were immediately hit by heavy machine gun fire. The attacking battalions were annihilated without achieving anything.

Of the two companies of the 1/5 South Staffords, every single officer and man was hit as they tried to advance.

138th Brigade attacked at 2.05 p.m.. They managed to reach their first objective with fewer losses. Then, as they carried on, heavy fire cut across them resulting in very high casualties. The attack came to a standstill within ten minutes. Trench fighting continued, but once again the shortage of bombs proved decisive. The Division lost 180 officers and 3,583 men within ten minutes, and achieved absolutely nothing.

Decades later, a great deal of distress was caused by the dumping of waste on what had been the Hohenzollern Redoubt.  This was addressed and there is now a permanent ban on any dumping.

On 13th October 2006 a Memorial to the 46th (North Midland) T F Division was  put in place on land close to the Redoubt donated by the local farmer, Michel Dedourage. 

The land where the memorial stands is 46 sqm.  It is made from Portland Stone (the same as the Dorset Memorial) in the form of a ‘Broken Column’ and was designed by Michael Credland.

The top of the column is tilted at an angle of 46 degrees.

The bottom step is 46 inches across and the column is 46 inches high. 

Every angle: the top, the base, the steps and the facets of the column are 46 degrees.

Each of the eight sides has a gun-metal plaque bearing the cap badges and names of the battalions: Lincolnshires, Leicestershires, Sherwood Foresters, North Staffordshires, South Staffordshires,  1st Monmouths, RFA and RE.  The plaques were made by the famous Bell Founders: Taylors of Loughborough. 

The Inscription "THEIR COUNTRY FOUND THEM READY", which is carved on the top step of the Memorial, was chosen by Martin Middlebrook, who wrote of Captain Staniland's Journey: The North Midland Territorials Go To War. It comes from the popular war-time song "Keep the home fires burning" composed by Ivor Novello In 1915.

Photographs of three brothers who served with the 46th (North Midland) Division.  The larger photograph is of a Hohenzollern Redoubt Survivor 

 St. Mary's Advanced Dressing Station Cemetery on the Hulluch to Vermelles road, Haisnes.

46th North Midland Memorial, Vermelles


46th (North Midland) Division - short history
The Dorsetshire Memorial

©Karen Ette

Monday 30 January 2012

46th North Midland Division in World War 1 - a short history

As my main area of research is with the Leicestershire and South Staffordshire Regiments, I was recently looking further into the 46th (North Midland) Division.   

Without giving the complete history, I thought I would give one or two important little snippets of information.

It was originally formed in 1908, known then at the North Midland Division and was one of the14 Divisions of the Territorial Force.

The Midland Brigades which formed the Division were:
137th (Staffordshire) Brigade, 138th (Lincoln & Leicester) Brigade, 139th (Sherwood Forester) Brigade

When the war broke-out the Division was under the command of Major General Hon. E.J. Montagu-Stuart-Wortley.  He is an interesting character, and disliked by Field Marshall Sir Douglas Haig.  His story will come later. 

All units were mobilised on 5th August 1914 and converged in the Luton area by the middle of August.

After the King had inspected the troops (19th February 1915) they set off for France and The North Midland was the first Territorial Force Division to arrive complete.  On 12th May 1915 the Division was given the title 46th (North Midland) Division. They first went to the Ypres Salient where they experienced the German liquid fire attack at Hooge on the 30th and 31st July.

The Division then moved south into France eventually taking part in the attack on the Hohenzollern Redoubt where, on 13 October, the Division was decimated.

Recent photo showing where part of  Redoubt was
There was much to-ing and fro-ing to Egypt and back in early 1916 and the Division was later involved in the Battle of the Somme (1916) on the failed attack at Gommecourt, 1st July 1916 and the Battle of Albert (1st – 13th July 1916).  On 29 September 1918: The Breaking of the Hindenburg Line.

This brings me to my recent visits to the Redoubt and to the two memorials to the 46th (North Midland) Division, near in Vermelles. 

The memorial nearest to Vermelles is on what was the British Front Line close to
Saint Mary's Advanced Dressing Station Cemetery at Haisnes

46th Division Memorial near Vermelles
The memorial honouring the casualties of the 46th Division at the Hohenzollern Redoubt, which is where the German front-line was, is worth a page of its own; please click here to read all about it. It is on the opposite side of the Hohenzollern Redoubt at Auchy-les-Mines. 

46th Division Memorial at Auchey-les-Mines

There is also a 46th Division Memorial near Bellenglise (Hindenburg Line) and I would like to thank Tony Guest for the photograph (below)

46th Division Memorial at Bellenglise Photograph by Tony Guest - thanks Tony
Also on the Vermelles Road at Haisnes just behind the British front line is the St Mary's Advanced Dressing Station Cemetery where Jack Kipling is buried – lots of controversy there.

© Karen Ette