Forest of Dean Branch: November Newsletter


Last Branch Meeting

Steve Cooper kept the meetings “ball rolling” on October 20th when he gave the 10 members and guests present a well received presentation on “Memorable Memorials”. Steve did a presentation under this title many years ago but has added and substituted many new images of memorable memorials seen on his worldwide travels, for example, to such places as Arlington National Cemetery in the U.S.A. to see the grave memorial of Audey Murphy, Medal of Honor, and later film star, and that of a U.S. judge at the Nuremburg war trials. Steve also showed us some headstones in so-called Pioneer Cemeteries in the U.S.A. which often give the deceased’s place of origin in Europe. On a more personal note, he also spoke about his aunt and cousins who were all killed in Sheffield in the Blitz of 1940 and showed us an image of their grave. And continuing on his family history theme, the graves of some of his ancestors who now rest in the Australian Outback. All this and much more was included in a packed presentation which Steve gave to the ”musical” accompaniment of the African drumming group practicing in the room next door to our meeting.

Next Branch Meeting

The next branch meeting, which is on Wednesday November 17 , was to have been a presentation by John Belcher on “Christchurch Graves” (Christchurch graveyard, Berry Hill) and how memorial inscriptions can help tell a family’s history. Unfortunately, due to unforeseen circumstances John has had to postpone his visit. We will re-arrange this for early in the New Year. Geoff [Davis] has stepped in and will give us a presentation on “Bream Heritage Walk”. This is a presentation he did on Zoom for the Forest of Dean Local History Society back in the summer. Hopefully it will be new to most branch members (at least me for one). West Dean Centre, Bream, 7.30pm, Wednesday 17 .

Future Meetings

It’s a bit hand to mouth right now but at least we are up and running.
Wednesday 15th December 2021 – Christmas Social, West Dean Centre, Bream,

Wednesday 19th January 2022 – Eric Nicholls on Family History in a Forest Churchyard – Flaxley (St. Mary), virtual tour.

Other News

On a recent open day of a Foresters Forest project Jo and Chris Phelps went along to the archeological dig of a WW2 army camp at Mile End, near Coleford. Jo reported that the information available on the site, and the camp remains uncovered, were most interesting and were well worth visiting.

WW1 War Graves in the Forest of Dean

At this annual time of Remembrance I thought a few lines about war graves of the service men and one woman in various cemeteries in the Forest of Dean who died in the U.K. of wounds or sickness during, or as a result of their service, in The Great War (WW1) might be of interest.
For the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (C.W.G.C.) to recognise a war grave of WW1 the service man or woman must have died between August 4th 1914 and August 31st 1921 of a cause attributable to their service in the conflict. This is the basic test for recognition but can be more complicated in some cases, particularly after discharge on medical grounds, and documented proof of exact cause of death and its attribution to war service is required to support a case for recognition.
Some fifteen years ago the Cheltenham and Gloucester Branch of the Western Front Association (W.F.A.) was formed and an early branch project was to locate and photograph all the WW1 war graves in the present County of Gloucestershire. I volunteered to locate and photograph the, then, 69 graves in the Forest of Dean.
Over the years, research by volunteers, including branch members Chris Howell, Steve Cooper and Eric Nicholls, has seen this number increase to 77.
Each year, at this time, the Cheltenham Gloucester Branch W.F.A. provide poppy crosses, which the above three with assistance from Jo Phelps and Robert Ensor, place on 63 graves in our particular bit of the Forest, thus ensuring that each one is visited and the service men and one woman (Mary Tooby at English Bicknor (St. Mary)) are so remembered. We will remember them.

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