Wednesday 21 November 2018

An uncanny discovery in Sherborne


A strange and slightly unsettling discovery today in Sherborne, Dorset (where I only went because I'd managed to leave behind a bag in a nearby service station. Thank you to the wonderful lady who found it and handed it in).
In the amazing Abbey, we came across two World War One memorial tablets, both to men who died early in 1915. Gareth Hamilton Fletcher died on 25 January 1915 at Cuinchy, La Bassee, France, aged only 20. He was in the Grenadier Guards.
His parents paid for this memorial in Sherborne Abbey, as well the memorial a few feet away to Laurence Rowe Fisher-Rowe who died, aged 48, on 13 March 1915 the day after receiving wounds at the battle of Neuve-Chapelle. He was also in the Grenadier Guards and married to Eveleen Fletcher, Gareth Hamilton's sister.
So this family lost two members  - a son and a son-in-law - in a few weeks.
Sad enough - but I wanted to know more as both men died in the area we've been studying in Estaires - where the 25th Field Ambulance was stationed (there were many Cornishmen in this unit).
It was a surprise and slightly uncanny to discover (via the Commonwealth War Graves website) that that Laurence Fisher-Rowe had actually been buried in Estaires. He must have been taken from the battlefield to a Field Hospital in the town.
Two weeks ago we were in Estaires marking the centenary of the Armistice, in the graveyard where Laurence Fisher-Rowe and nearly 900 other men lie buried.
Most of their stories are simply unknown - so it is good to learn more about just one (and his brother-in-law, Gareth Hamilton Fletcher, who is remembered at Le Touret Memorial, by the road between Bethune and Armentieres). I am guessing that Gareth's body was never discovered.
In the 25th Field Ambulance War Diary, the entry for 15 March 1915 describes much activity in the hospital around the preceding days, the start of the Battle of Neuve Chapelle.
Have to say - we know about these deaths and this tragedy because of the Memorials. They were paid for by grieving parents who had the resources to create something lasting to remember them. There were so many others who didn't - and so many other men who lie completely forgotten.

Friday 16 November 2018

An amazing reunion in Estaires, France

Have finally had time to collect together pictures and clips of videos from the amazing meeting last Friday (9/11) at the College du Sacre-Coeur, Estaires, France, between descendants of young Cornish soldier Leslie Pentecost and the Smagghue family who welcomed him to their home in 1914. Click here to view on the Bridging Arts website.

Monday 12 November 2018

Laying wreaths in Estaires, France yesterday

Alison Pooley and her sister Carmen Saunders laying a wreath in the English cemetery in Estaires, northern France, yesterday to mark the centenary of the Armistice.  Estaires was on the front line  for much of World War One and important Field Hospitals were created there. Men from Dolcoath Mine's was St John Ambulance team were stationed there - including Fred Head, James Phillips, Fred Negus and Leslie Pentecost (Alison and Carmen's grandfather). There are 900 British and allied graves in Estaires' Town cemetery- as well as many French civilian and military dead.
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Presentation in Estaires

Cornishwoman Alison Pooley and her sister Carmen Saunders at the Armistice Day commemorations at the Town Hall in Estaires, northern France, yesterday. Alison and Carmen were there to mark a 100-year-old friendship. Their grandfather Lesley Pentecost was billeted with the Smagghue family in the town and forged a strong friendship with them. Back home in Cornwall the Pentecost family kept all the letters and photos over the years. Yesterday, 100 years later, they presented an album with them to descendants of the Smagghue family who hosted their grandfather. Background on
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Saturday 10 November 2018

Honouring a Cornishman on the Western Front

Very moving today to be in Sailly-sur-la-Lys, northern France, as local people honour allied forces' war dead. Here Jean-Pierre Acquette lights a candle to place on the grave of Thomas Penhorwood, a former Newquay policeman. The wreath laid by Camborne Youth Band last August still lies there.
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Friday 9 November 2018

French students in Estaires remember WW1

Students at the College du Sacre Coeur in Estaires, northern France, pay a tremendous tribute to WW1 soldiers in the town during the war years. This school was turned into a hospital by Cornish soldiers in the 25th Field Ambulance. An exhibition, poetry reading, song and music....before
planting poppies. They also made a replica of a WW1 plane....
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Pentecost and Smagghues families reunited in Estaires

How amazing is this?! Background on
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From Heartlands to France

Delivering the boards from our exhibition Playing for Camborne in time for Armistice Day ...
to the Mayor of Estaires this morning. The boards show Camborne Youth Band's visit to the town in August 2918. Background on
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Thursday 8 November 2018

Setting off for Armistice Day

Off this morning on the first leg of the journey to Estaires, France, to celebrate Armistice Day. Cornishmen were stationed there during World War One and we'll be visiting with their descendants.
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Tuesday 6 November 2018

Marking Armistice Day 2018

On Sunday 11 November 2018, we'll be publishing a selection of poetry written in Hayle, Cornwall, to mark the centenary of the end of World War One.  These poems will appear on our website at 11am.

Sunday 4 November 2018

BBC Radio interview on Cornish long distance love story in WW1

In case you missed it this morning - Alison Pooley​ talks on BBC Radio Cornwall​ about her grandfather Leslie Pentecost in World War One, his long distance love affair with his sweetheart Lillie Uren back in CamborneTown.Com​ and his friendship with the Smagghue family in Ville d'Estaires​ during the war years. Alison is travelling out to Estaires with her sister this week to meet Nath Smag​ and her family - and visit Collège du Sacré Coeur​  where students have been working on this story

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