I bought my daughter a book of WW1 poetry recently and it has inadvertently started me on another quest. The search for local Commonwealth War Graves in my area from the first world war, hopefully telling you the tales of the fallen; respectfully attempting to remember them 100 years on.
This all started with my daughter telling me of a poem she liked written by a WW1 soldier called Horace Edgar Kingsmill Bray. On reseaching the poet she discovered that he died and was buried not far from our home. He had been killed in a mid air collision while training on July 9th 1918. He was 22 years old, a veteran of the Somme.
He rests in a tiny hidden hamlet called Shotwick, an historic village right on the English/ Welsh border that literally goes nowhere and consists of a few houses a church and a graveyard. Few people now about it because it doesn’t lead anywhere. There is one road in and that stops at the church.
But for such a tiny place it has a huge history. It was once a port and both Henry II and Edward I both sailed from here. It played its part in the English Civil War and the black death visited in the middle ages and plague victims are said to be buried in the church grounds. Nowadays what was the River Dee has now silted up and been reclaimed but evidence of a port remains. If you know where to look.
The reason i recently visited was to pay my respects to the 9 foreign airmen from World War 1 who died in training accidents at the nearby Royal Flying corps Shotwick, laterly know as RAF Sealand. They all died in training during 1918, the final months of the war, and are laid to rest in the grounds of St Michaels Church.
There are 3 Canadian’s, 3 American’s, 1 South African, 1 new Zealander and 1 Frenchman buried here. Their ages range from 19 to 25 and they are a long way from home.
The final resting place of the 9 airmen who all died within months of peace breaking out. They all have names and they all have stories and in my next blog i will tell you all about them.