Recognition for Channel Islander killed during retreat from Mons

Captain Victor Briard, killed near Mons on 24 August 1914

A Jersey housing development is to be named after the first Channel Islander to be killed in the First World War.

Captain EFV (Victor) Briard was 25 when he was killed in action on 24 August 1914 during the retreat from Mons.

He was born in St Helier and educated at Felstead School and the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst. He was captain of hockey while at Felstead and went on to represent the Army at the sport. He also played cricket for his regiment.

Royal Norfolk Regiment

He was serving with 1st Battalion, Royal Norfolk Regiment. His unit, along with 1st Battalion the Cheshire Regiment, was left exposed as other battalions retreated and left them to be outflanked and overrun by the advancing German forces.

Around 250 Norfolks became casualties, along with more than 700 from the Cheshire Regiment.

Mons retreat

British troops take up defensive positions during the retreat

Family tragedy

Briard’s widowed mother, Maud, was initially told he had been taken prisoner and his death was not confirmed until 1916.

Private Henry Grigglestone wrote to Mrs Briard describing the moment her son was killed: ‘I was in the same section as Lieutenant Briard was in charge of on the 24th August 1914. He was directing operations and I stayed next to him. I saw him killed about two minutes before I was captured.

‘I cannot tell you any more, but all I can say is, “he died a hero”.’

Captain Briard is buried at Elouges Communal Cemetery in Belgium along with 24 other members of the Norfolk Regiment.

Briard’s younger brother, John, died aged just 19 on 15 October 1919 of complications related to wounds received in May at a skirmish on the Khyber Pass. At the time he was serving with 35th Sikhs and had been on his way to a posting on the Afghan border.

He was buried at Peshawar and is now commemorated on the Delhi Memorial.

 

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Rare colour photographs show realities of WW1

 

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A British tank waits in a street in Péronne

To mark the Centenary of the First World War, publisher Taschen has produced a fascinating volume dedicated to colour photographs from the conflict.

Entitled The First World War in Colour it brings together more than 320 images brought together from archives in Europe, the US and Australia.

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German soldiers pose in a concrete-lined trench

Subject matter is wide and varied, covering the mobilisation of 1914, through soldiers in moment of relaxation, to developing military technology and victory celebrations in 1919.

These rare colour images were taken by a small group of photographers pioneering recently developed autochrome technology.

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A French Caudron G-3 at an airfield in 1914

Since the autochrome process required a relatively long exposure time, almost all of the photos depict carefully composed scenes of rear areas, static machines and towns affected by war.

The First World War in Colour is published by Taschen, price $59.99. To find out more about the book, click here.

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A British ambulance and RAMC crew, 1914

Verdun, wrecked by bombardment

Verdun, wrecked by bombardment

French anti-aircraft gunners at Verdun, 1916

French anti-aircraft gunners at Verdun, 1916

 

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Sussex memorial for Battle of Mons VC winner

The railway bridge at Nimy, looking out from where Godley was positioned

The railway bridge at Nimy, looking out from where Godley was positioned

A memorial stone is to be unveiled to commemorate one of the first Victoria Cross winners of the First World War.

Private Sidney Godley VC, of the Royal Fusiliers, won the medal for his defence of the Nimy railway bridge during the Battle of Mons on 23 August 1914.

Under fire

 

Godley climbed up an embankment under heavy fire and took over a machine gun that had been set up to shoot across the bridge. He was eventually wounded and captured after running out of ammunition.

Lieutenant Maurice Dease won the VC for the same action and was killed within a few feet of Godley. He is buried at St Symphorien Military Cemetery near Mons.

The cemetery is one of the sites on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s Retreat from Mons Remembrance Trail, which follows the course of the battle during the last days of August 1914.

 

Private Godley’s memorial stone will be laid on the top step of the war memorial in his native town of East Grinstead, Sussex.

The memorial plaque on the railway bridge at Nimy on the outskirts of Mons

The memorial plaque on the railway bridge at Nimy on the outskirts of Mons

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Worcestershire Cricket Club rededicates WW1 memorial

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A memorial to the Worcestershire County Cricket Club players who were killed in the First World War has been rededicated to mark the Centenary of 1914.

Some 17 club members, including 10 first XI players, lost their lives in the conflict.

The memorial had hung above the bar in the old, 19th-century pavilion but had become blackened and almost impossible to read before its restoration.

A second memorial, including names from the original plaque and others from the Second World War, has also been unveiled.

Names on the memorial

Among the Worcestershire players who lost their lives was 31-year-old Cecil Lushington. A former pupil of Haileybury College in Hertfordshire, he was killed at the Battle of the Somme on 3 July 1916 while a lieutenant with the 10th Battalion, Worcestershire Regiment.

John Winnington DSO played one game for Worcestershire, in 1908, scoring 0 and 20 in his two innings against Oxford University. He died of wounds on 22 September 1918 while a lieutenant colonel commanding 1/4th Battalion of the Northamptonshire Regiment in Palestine.

Neuve Chapelle

Lieutenant colonel Ernest Wodehouse DSO was a Boer War veteran who was killed while leading the 1st Battalion Worcestershire Regiment at the battle of Neuve Chapelle in 1915.

Wodehouse had led his men forward to storm buildings that lay opposite the British front line, but their position became untenable when no support arrived and they were surrounded on three sides.

The Worcesters were forced to pull back and suffered heavy losses in the ensuing retreat across open ground – among them their lieutenant colonel.

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Staffordshire conscription tribunal notes revealed

Youthful conscripts at the Etaples base in France, July 1918

Youthful conscripts at the Etaples base in France, July 1918

Records from Staffordshire’s conscription appeals tribunals are to be documented as part of the commemorations of the Centenary of the First World War.

The authorities intended that the records would be destroyed following the Armistice, but documents relating to around 20,000 still exist at the records office in Stafford.

Professor Karen Hunt, from Keele University, said call-up appeals were often placed by the employer of a man selected for military service.

The Stafford papers reveal the pressures the community was under, she added, with many men already in the forces and many others killed in action.

Conscription enforced

Conscription was introduced in Britain in January 1916 as casualty rates rose and the number of volunteers dwindled, especially following the slaughter of the Pals battalions at the Battle of the Somme.

Under the Military Service Act men aged between 18 and 45 were obliged to register to join the armed forces. In May, the act was widened to include married men and, two years later, the upper age limit was raised to 51.

In 1918 the upper age limit for conscription was raised to 51

In 1918 the upper age limit for conscription was raised to 51

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Welsh WW1 monument unveiled at Langemark

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A memorial to commemorate Welsh soldiers who were killed in the First World War will be unveiled at Langemark, Belgium, on 16 August.

It will comprise a Welsh dragon atop a slate cromlech and is near the spot where Welsh poet Hedd Wyn was mortally wounded at the Battle of Passchendaele.

Veterans remembered

First minister of Wales Carwyn Jones said: ‘There are many people, myself included, who remember the First World War veterans.

‘When I was a young child in the 1970s, there were still lots of them around. Some of them physically scarred, some of them, of course, mentally scarred. Many of them couldn’t talk about their experiences. And I remember them.

‘But it’s right to say that those people have gone. But that’s why it’s even more important, in some ways, to try to understand what happened and commemorate – not celebrate – what happened.’

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Campaigners call for WW1 Chinese Labour Corps memorial

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Members of Britain’s Chinese community have launched a campaign to commemorate members of the Chinese Labour Corps who served in the First World War.

Dangerous work

More than 100,000 men volunteered for the corps, with the first arriving on the Western Front in 1917 and some remaining with their units until 1920 – engaged in clearing unused ordinance and exhuming the bodies of the fallen.

Their work could often be exhausting and dangerous and involved moving ammunition, long hours and occasional bombardment.

Five Chinese Labour Corps soldiers were awarded the Meritorious Service Medal for bravery and, after the war, the British government sent a War Medal to every member of the corps. This was like the British War Medal issued to every member of the British armed forces, except that it was made of bronze, not silver.

Noyelles cemetery

The largest First World War Chinese cemetery on the Western Front is at Noyelles-Sur-Mer, near St Valéry at the mouth of the River Somme.

Guarded by Chinese dragons it has been planted with trees, shrubs and flowers native to China. Inscriptions on the 842 headstones are limited to four proverbs: ‘Faithful unto death’, ‘A good reputation endures forever’, ‘A noble duty bravely done’ and ‘Though dead he still liveth’.

While around 5,000 members of the Corps are believed to have remained in France after the war, few, if any, settled in the UK.

The campaign to create a permanent memorial in central London, to be unveiled in 2017 sited either in Southwark or Westminster, is backed by the Chinese embassy and the Chinese in Britain Forum.

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