Tag Archives: draycott war memorial

Time for councillors to resign

As we approach the annual general meeting of Draycott Council next month, it’s time once again to assess the councillors’ performance in these last twelve months.
And, looking at their record, all one can say is that it is so hopelessly dismal, that they should all resign forthwith.

The easiest way to point out our council’s embarrassing lack of achievement is to compare it against the work done by the three surrounding village councils – Forsbrook/Blythe Bridge, Fulford and Checkley/Tean. And that’s what this article is about.

By the end of this article, you might well agree that it would be a better thing for Draycott’s electors (in Draycott, Totmonslow, Cresswell, Newton etc) if the current crop of councillors simply stood down and let more energetic people take over.

Let’s look at the facts.

Covid response
In this country’s worst peacetime year for a century, nearby councils charged ahead, organising help-groups and getting grants. Fulford Council especially set a great example, putting out a special Covid newsletter, getting grants and setting up a specific action group; they even won an award for their efforts. Checkley Council recently created a small Covid memorial plantation.

But what have Draycott Council done to help? …nothing.
Local relief here was actually carried out by a small village community group and by volunteers at Blythe Bridge library.
Very poor.

No progress
Earlier this year, a resident asked at a meeting what hopes & strategy the council had for 2021. The answer was almost predictable… : ‘nothing particularly different to before’.
The resident went away, dissatisfied, to go on to become one of the founders of DCAT, the new Draycott Community Group.

A good example of how hopeless this council is is shown by its efforts to set up a Neighbourhood Plan. Over the years, three times they have started the process, including last year – only to see it collapse each time, meaning thousands of pounds has to be returned. The simple fact is these councillors lack the energy & belief to make it happen, and certainly have failed to inspire the local public.
Compare that with Checkley Council – where their five-year NPlan process is now very far advanced!
The energy in neighbouring councils is evident: Checkley and Forsbrook have even been out buying land for community projects in the last year.
And, after the NALC (National Association of Local Councils) declared a climate-action emergency more than a year ago, other local village councils have been busy setting up green policies – including Forsbrook, which has created space for a colony of bees.

By contrast, Draycott councillors have just been sitting on their hands.

Residents have been waiting & waiting: for the promised brass plaque to remember our local war dead (although the national WW1 Project started back in 2014!); for any sign of the so-called ‘Gateway’ signs for the village; for any sign of the renovation of the Draycott kiosk; for any sign of a solid local policy for the environment.
What we got instead in 2020 was … a new bin!
(It’s true that the VAS speed-signs went up last year, but that project was launched in 2018, and most of the work was done on it in 2019).

As you’d expect from all that lack of action, Draycott Council is now sitting on a fat financial reserve. Despite that, the council is still asking for the same level of council tax this year as before…
(In terms of population and responsibilities, Draycott-in-the-Moors is comparable to Caverswall, which asks for 20% less council tax).

Duties
Draycott Council has virtually no responsibilities. Unlike other surrounding councils, it manages no playground or cemetery or allotments. Because of this, it really only has two statutory duties: to comment on planning applications and to monitor the local footpath network. But the record on these is not good either.
Probably the most important planning application it was asked to look over last year was the one about the giant Blythe Fields housing estate. It completely failed to put in a comment. Which is pretty bad.
Despite promising a local-footpaths report in 2019, none has materialised. The promise was repeated in council early this year, but still nothing has appeared.

Communication
Draycott councillors admitted a few years ago that their lines of communication with local electors needed massive improvement – what was urgently need was more newsletters, development of a user-friendly website, better use of social media, engagement with local newspapers, more involvement with the local community. In other words, they needed to catch up with surrounding councils like Fulford (which produces its own monthly news updates) and Checkley, whose councillors formally liaise with their local organisations.
But in this past 12 months… you guessed it… no progress. In fact things have gone backward.

A promise to mail out two newsletters a year fizzled out (though the council did piggy-back a newsletter made by the DSGroup).
Councillors stopped engaging formally on the village Facebook page.
The website has seen no improvements.
Nowadays, no councillor represents the council on any local community organisation – the last one being on the Church Lane Renovation Group, but he resigned from that fifteen months ago.

Only in one area does Draycott Council escape criticism: it has started to get ‘the basics’ right. Agendas and minutes appear on time, supporting documents are listed properly and the finances are transparent. However, that has little to do with the councillors; the responsibility for the ‘basics’ falls to the paid staff, not to the councillors.

All in all, it’s a very, very poor record.
… and we are only comparing Draycott Council to three other councils. Suppose we’d compared it with more…

Resignations, please

Judging by this dismal record, Draycott-in-the-Moors Parish Council has simply turned into an expensive monthly talking-shop, where almost nothing is achieved. Compared to the energy and creativity of surrounding councils, Draycott councillors look tired-out and stuck in their ways.
Even the newer councillors seem unable to shake things up. In fact, during 2020, one councillor only attended four of the council’s ten meetings (even though most were on Zoom)!
Councillors have to do more than just turn up. As well as demonstrating a commitment to the betterment of an area, they have to show leadership and energy.

There is no doubt of course that most of the seven Draycott councillors are nice people – but their record simply shows the job is beyond them. It is time they did the honourable thing, and moved out of the way. They should resign now. The people of this village should not have to wait until the next elections (in 2023) to see improvements in the area.

And… we all know that there are some really energetic people in the village – who would (we think) happily step in to act as co-opted councillors until 2023. If councillors were to resign, it would give these new people the chance to show what they could do, as well as providing a much-needed injection of energy into the area.

***
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Draycott’s War Memorial – World War Two

Back in the 1960s, the congregation at Draycott St Margaret’s put up a war memorial plaque in the church. It named the forces personnel of the parish who had died in both world wars.
See – the story of Draycott’s war memorial.

Draycott war memorial

Draycott war memorial plaque inside St Margaret’s

But neither the rector nor the church wardens of the time left any record identifying who these servicemen & women were… so we started a project to find out something about them.
Having already identified those who died in WW1, we have now also finally identified the four men and one woman from 1939-45.
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Bernard Joseph Stubbs had survived two years in the appalling conditions of the Japanese ‘Burma Railway’ POW camps when he was killed in 1944 in a bombing raid – carried out by planes from his own side…
See full story
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Joyce Atkin (not Atkins) was a nurse, and is the only woman on the Draycott memorial.
She was on a troopship sailing to southern India in February 1944, when her ship was attacked and sunk by an enemy submarine.
See full story
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Paul Dobson
was killed parachuting into Germany during Operation Plunder the (successful) attempt to cross the River Rhine in 1945.
See full story
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Lawrence Cyples
died in one of the most devastating attacks on British shipping in the whole war – the disaster of the SS Lancastria.
See full story
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Bede Vavasour wasn’t even twenty years old when he died in 1942, serving in the RAF Volunteer Reserve Squadron 12 (part of Bomber Command).
See full story

WW2 Memorial – Bernard Stubbs

Back in the 1960s, the congregation at Draycott St Margaret’s put up a war memorial plaque in the church. It named the forces personnel of the parish who had died in both world wars.
See – the story of Draycott’s war memorial.

Draycott war memorial

Draycott war memorial plaque inside St Margaret’s

This is the story of Bernard Stubbs.
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All stories of deaths in war are tragic, but the story of Bernard Joseph Stubbs is especially so.
Just 25 when he died, he had survived two years in the appalling conditions of the Japanese ‘Burma Railway’ POW camps when he was killed in 1944 in a bombing raid – carried out by planes from his own side…

Cresswell-born

Back in 1919 when he was born, Cresswell had a railway station, where Bernard’s father William probably worked, as he listed his profession as ‘railway porter’. Perhaps he worked also at Totmonslow station (oddly, the station there was called ‘Tean Station’ at the time).  Both stations have since been demolished.

William and his wife Annie had married in 1897, having seven children in all, with Bernard being their youngest.
The family lived for many years at ‘School House, Cresswell’ a house within the grounds of St Mary’s Catholic Church on Cresswell Old Road. Over a century ago, the church ran a small primary school (which closed around 1918), and the School House was so-called because it was where the teacher lived. (The house next door – St Josephs House – was the old school itself).
William & Annie Stubbs were Catholics, which is presumably why they got to live in the house.

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(Courtesy the Thorley Collection for all the black-and-white photos above).

War

In 1939, Britain declared war on Nazi Germany, and, two years later, on Japan too. The Second World War would last for six years.
It must have been heart-breaking for William & Annie to see their youngest go off to enlist. Bernard joined the Royal Artillery, where he became a lance bombardier.

We know little of his war career until 1942. In this terrible year for Britain, one of the greatest blows was the fall of Singapore, a British colony at the time. With its fall, control of the Far East – from the Pacific to the Indian border – was now in the hands of the Japanese.
Bernard was one of the British troops in Singapore at the fall, and so he became a prisoner-of-war of the Japanese.

Film

The Japanese POW camps were notoriously brutal, partly because they worked the prisoners so hard. One construction project these prisoners were forced to undertake was the building of the infamous ‘Burma railway’. This huge project saw the deaths in terrible conditions of thousands of Allied prisoners – mostly British, American, Australian and Dutch. The story is the basis for the famous war film ‘Bridge Over the River Kwai’.

By the time of Bernard’s death in 1944, the project had been completed, but many prisoners, including Bernard, had to stay in these camps in order to carry out maintenance on the railway.
What a strange irony – a father who worked on a railway, and his son also working on a railway – but in such different circumstances…
And it was here on the Burma Railway that Bernard died. In an Allied air-attack on the railway in September 1944, Bernard was killed. In other words, he survived the camps – but only to die in an attack by his own comrades…

Kanchanaburi

Bernard’s remains are now in Kanchanaburi War Cemetery in Thailand, the main POW burial ground for those victims of Japanese imprisonment who were forced into labour on the Burma Railway.

Bernard Stubbs grave, Kanchanaburi

Bernard Stubbs’ grave, Kanchanaburi

It is maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. In there are buried almost 7,000 POWs.
Near to it is the ‘Burma Railway Centre’ a small museum about the railway and the prisoners who built it.

Every year hundreds of thousands of British people holiday in Thailand, and many take time out to visit this site in their time there and pay their respects.

With thanks to Bill Pearson for researching the records.

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Can you add any more to this account? We’d be grateful for any knowledge anyone may have. Use the Comments-Box below or email us.  Bernard’s service number was 1426651

For the stories of all the other service-people whose names are on the war memorial plaque in St Margaret’s, click here

WW2 Memorial – Joyce Atkin

Back in the 1960s, the congregation at Draycott St Margaret’s put up a war memorial plaque in the church. It named the forces personnel of the parish who had died in both world wars.
See – the story of Draycott’s war memorial.

Draycott war memorial

Draycott war memorial plaque inside St Margaret’s

This is the story of Joyce Atkin.
++

Joyce Atkin (not Atkins) was a nurse, and is the only woman on the Draycott memorial.

She was on a troopship, part of an Allied convoy sailing from East Africa to southern India in February 1944, when her ship, the SS Khedive Ismail, was attacked and sunk by an enemy submarine. The ship went down almost immediately, with a terrible death toll – only some 200 people survived, less than one-eighth of those on board. It was Britain’s third worst mercantile disaster in the Second World War.
She was just 28 years old.

Brookwood Military Cemetery

Joyce’s official stone is at Brookwood in Surrey

The role of women who die on active service in war is often overlooked by those who construct war memorials, so it is to the credit of the Draycott memorial committee that they ensured Joyce’s name would be there too.

Bromley Wood

Joyce was born to a farming family in the spot known as Bromley Wood, which is halfway between Cresswell and Hilderstone. Her parents Sidney and Annie had married in Uttoxeter in 1913, and she was born two years later.
(Sidney and family later moved a few miles to nearby Morrilow Moor Farm; he died in 1957).

Leigh Church War memorial

We think Joyce worshipped at Leigh village church as a girl

Joyce seems to have had an adventurous spirit, as, in 1936 at the age of 21, having left Bromley Wood Farm and her parents and three brothers, she enrolled at the Colindale School of Nursing in north London.
Qualifying in 1941, at some point she joined the Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service and later took on war duty, in the course of which she met her tragic death.

Shock

The incident in which Joyce died brought home to the British public just how involved women had become in the frontline effort in the last years of World War Two.
More than eighty service-women, including medical staff, died in the attack on the ship – and this turned out to be the highest ever death-number of British female military personnel in one single attack.

An extra tragedy in this event was that, although the ship that Joyce was on had already been sunk, the other ships in the convoy were still of course just as much at threat from the enemy submarine; and so two warships in the convoy immediately went after it. The depth charges these warships used against the submarine may well have injured or killed some of the survivors of the SS Khedive Ismail who were still in the water. It was one of those terrible dilemmas of war.
The submarine was eventually forced to surface, when it was destroyed by the warships’ torpedoes.

The news came as a terrible shock to the nation – so much so that the incident became the basis of an incident in The Cruel Sea, a best-selling book by Nicholas Monserrat (which was later adapted into a film of the same name).
Since then the full historical account has been written up in the book Passage to Destiny’  by Brian Crabb.

Remembrance

Though Joyce’s body was never found, she does have an official war-marker. You will find her memorial stone at the Brookwood Military Cemetery in Surrey.

Interestingly, Joyce, as well as being remembered at Brookwood and at Draycott, is also remembered on the war memorial in Leigh village (near Tean). The parish of Leigh is adjacent to the parish of Draycott.

Joyce Atkin's name on Leigh War memorial

Joyce Atkin’s name is also on Leigh War memorial

It is not unusual for someone to be on more than one war memorial: most village war memorials were erected, not by the local authority, but by local people, who would nominate any war-dead who had been born or lived in and around the district. Joyce had lived on the ‘border’ between Leigh and Draycott.

With thanks to Bill Pearson and David B Atkin for researching the records.

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Can you add any more to this account? We’d be grateful for any knowledge anyone may have. Use the Comments-Box below or email us.  Joyce’s service number was 270574

For the stories of all the other service-people whose names are on the war memorial plaque in St Margaret’s, click here

NEWS: HGV lane / balloon drops / photos needed / sad war memorial

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors in late Feb 2019
In this post we have news of…:  lane approved for HGVs / balloon drops on Cresswell / sad saga of war memorial / appeal for photographers… 
(NB – There are also dozens of events coming up soon in our locality – including a first-aid course…  Check out the Events page)

If you’d like an email from us each fortnight about the latest Draycott & Cresswell & District news, please click the ‘Follow’ button in the top right-hand corner of this webpage
For daily updates about life in our district, keep checking the village Facebook page

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Lane approved for construction traffic

As we suspected, the application by the St Modwen developers to use Woodlands Lane (at the furthermost west end of Draycott, by Chandni Cottage) as a ‘haulage road’ for its construction lorries was approved without a hitch by the Moorlands Planning Committee.
The lane will now see dozens of lorries going along it while the building of the new Blythe Vale estate takes place. The building phase will take about two years.
Some residents did their best to oppose the plans, but their concerns were put to one side. (See objections one, two, and three).

St Modwen haulage road application

The lane will take construction traffic while the new main access road to the estate is being built

What is odd is that these objectors got no formal support from Draycott Council. Our councillors publicly said they opposed the plans – but, strangely, these same councillors did not register a formal complaint on the relevant planning-page as they could have.

Why not?
Unbelievably… it turns out that councillors were ‘unaware’ that they could register a comment.
Really, this is not good enough. They should know that they can comment. We have a right to expect more of our council….
The current crop of members on Draycott Council are, we know, good and honest people – but they don’t seem to understand how the modern world works, or how to represent their district properly in this 21st century.

In fact, as it happens, all the current members are standing down at the forthcoming elections, which take place in May… and so it is an ideal time for fresh blood to come in.
Would YOU like to stand for election and take a place on the council? Check out this guide on how to do it.

_ _ _
Funny thing happened….

A walk in the country is usually a quiet affair… but last week some of us went for a walk along the public track behind Blythe Business Park, when we saw a balloon come drifting down to land in a nearby field.
It landed quite softly and no one was harmed, but obviously it was not a planned landing…

 

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Then slowly, in front of us, just behind the rise in the ground, the balloon just deflated…
You don’t see that too often.

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Calling local photographers

Lydia Hooley, the Staffordshire Police’s Community Engagement Officer, has contacted us to ask if we can put out an alert to friendly photographers.

Lydia is putting together a new ‘Neighbourhood Watch’ website and is looking for photographs that represent Draycott or Cresswell or Totmonslow. These should be pictures of recognisably local features, such as our scenery, monuments or ‘landmarks’.

Send your snaps to nw@staffordshire.pnn.police.uk, and – who knows? – it could be your photo that goes on to represent Draycott and/or surrounding hamlets on the “localities page” of the new website.

_ _ _
Sorry memorial project

The ongoing saga of Draycott’s WW1 Anniversary project is not a happy one.

Nearly all other parish councils across the country responded to the anniversary of the First World War Armistice 100th Anniversary last year by organising wonderful projects and creating permanent reminders of that fateful day a century ago.

Fulford War Memorial Staffs

Fulford War Memorial

For example, in next-door Fulford, the local council worked with the village community group to ensure the anniversary would be remembered for a long time, by raising over £7000 to renovate the village’s old war memorial. (see pic right)

However, here in Draycott, our council dithered.
Eventually, virtually at the last minute, one councillor got a young yew from his own garden; and the council got permission to plant it in St Margaret’s churchyard.
Unfortunately, not all the families with loved ones resting there in the churchyard had been consulted, and some disliked this ‘intrusion’ – and objected, going to the diocese authorities. (The council also hadn’t got around to ordering a plaque to explain what the plant was doing there).
And, suddenly, a few weeks ago, some vandal uprooted it and chucked it in a bin – from which it had to be rescued.

Yew tree memorial

The yew memorial is now abandoned at the far end of the churchyard

It’s a bit of an undignified tale.

Surely, Draycott councillors simply needed to get their act together well before the anniversary, and plan out a proper and fitting memorial project.
But they didn’t.

No one seems to know quite what will happen next.

***
If you’d like an email from us each fortnight about the latest Draycott & District news, please click the ‘Follow’ button in the top right-hand corner of this webpage

Do you have news or information snippets that you think residents would like to see up on this website? If so – email us

Want to comment on any of the items on this page?
Just use the comments box – near the bottom of this page.           (The form will ask if you wish to put in your email address.  You don’t have to – and it is always kept private anyway and never published -, but, if you don’t add your email address, that means you might miss any responses to your comment)

NEWS: shelter expense / Remembrance / speed madness / history at risk

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors in early November 2016
News of…:  An expensive bus-shelter / WW1 Draycott man remembered / speed demons back in the village / Paynsley remains “at risk” …
(NB – There are also dozens of events in our locality – including a decorated christmas tree festival. Check out the Events page)

For daily updates about life in our district, keep checking the village Facebook page

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Paying for a bus shelter with no buses

What do you do with a bus shelter when no buses come to it any more?  That is the dilemma that Draycott local council finds itself in.
The bus-shelter next to the Draycott Arms – which was built and is owned by Draycott Council – was crumbling and decaying, but then again, no buses have stopped there for two years (since the Uttoxeter express bus was cancelled) – and it’s pretty unlikely we’ll ever get a bus along that route again.
So – should anyone bother doing anything about it at all?

Well, Draycott Council felt they should repair it, and so they put £500 into renovating  the whole roof at the end of the summer, plus a further sum into repairing the perspex glazing for the noticeboard inside.  Now it turns out that they may well have to put in a further £100 in, because now the structure is swaying in high winds and needs bracing…
(To add insult to injury, someone has taken to dumping piles of old wood at the back of it as well).

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This is all taxpayers’ money of course, so all of us should be thinking about what the solution could be to this particular headache.
If you have a thought, why not present it at the next council meeting, on Monday November 21st?

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Remembrance

We are almost exactly in the middle of the four years of the 100-year anniversary of World War One, which lasted from 1914 to 1918.

This year there is a special commemoration at Stoke Railway Station to remember the men of the North Staffordshire Railway who died in World War 1.  Of those who went to the battlefields, one in ten NSR men never came back. One of them was a Draycott man.

Stoke Railway Station war memorial

Stoke Railway Station war memorial

Sergeant Philip Hawley Bagnall, who joined up in 1914 and was killed just one year later, lived in Draycott before the war.  He is remembered on the Draycott Church war memorial, as well as on the Stoke Railway Station war memorial.
Lev Wood, of our local history society, researched his story, which you can read for yourself by clicking here.

On this year’s Armistice Day, Friday 11 November, the event at Stoke station will see the names of all those NSR men who died being read out to passengers and public on the platform. The reading will take five hours, with one name being announced every two minutes. A two-minute silence will follow at 11am.
If you can’t get to Stoke Railway Station, a parade & silence is being held in Blythe Bridge on Remembrance Sunday (the 13th).

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Speedsters are back

The community speedwatch team in Cresswell has been hit by a couple of resignations, so it no longer has the personnel to get out regularly with a radar-gun and do the useful work they were doing.
The planned Draycott Level speed-watch project seemed never to have got off the ground.
The official speed-camera vans, which for a while were seen pretty regularly round here, also seem not to be putting in so many appearances.

And that is all a shame, because the threat of speed-cameras does deter offenders… and now the biggest idiots seem to be back, seen bombing up and down the local roads once again.  We observed one moron doing what must have been eighty, in a car with a souped-up engine, along Cresswell Lane one Saturday evening a couple of weeks ago; while the forty miles an hour limit on Draycott level is hardly ever kept to at all, is it?

Dead badger on Cheadle Road

Dead badger on Cheadle Road

The speed disease seems to be spreading to Cheadle Road (the really narrow, bending road up to Draycott Cross).  The road-kill there is not just badgers either.

By the way, if you see a dead badger, you are supposed to report the sighting – click here to check what to do.

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Paynsley … continuing to decay

Once again the annual report from English Heritage about UK listed buildings has put the Paynsley Hall ruins on the ‘at-risk’ register.  Sadly, this notice about Paynsley seems to happen year after year: the remains of the medieval moat keep decaying, but no one seems to want to do that much about it.

Paynsley Hall was an ancient mansion on farmland in Cresswell (just behind what is now Blthe Park) .  It was even the site of a small skirmish in the English Civil War in the 1600s when the Parliamentarians ransacked the place.
It was substantially demolished in the 1960s, though very small bits of it remain.  The remains are, as we say, in very poor condition, though actually it is hard to know just how poor, as the remains can only be approached by permission of the land-owner, which is rarely given.

Two years ago, Draycott Council promised to make enquiries, but nothing seems to have transpired.

***
Want to comment on any of the items on this page?
Just use the comments box – near the bottom of this page.           (The form will ask if you wish to put in your email address.  You don’t have to – and it is always kept private anyway and never published -, but, if you don’t add your email, that means you might miss any responses to your comment).

Sergeant Philip Bagnall … died 1915

In our last entry on this website, we said that – after nearly fifty years of mystery – the three men named on the Draycott War Memorial as having died in World War One have finally been properly identified.   See the article

But – even more research has just recently come to light about one of the men, Philip Bagnall.  Lev Wood of the local History Group has some more information…

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Yes, we have now discovered even more about Sergeant Philip Hawley Bagnall, who was killed on the 30th September 1915 whilst serving in the 1/5th Battalion of the North Staffs Regiment at Hill 60, which is in Belgium just south east of Ypres.

As well as being remembered on the Draycott War Memorial, he is also commemorated on the Stoke Railway Station memorial (see pic below, middle column). Stoke railway memorial, Philip Hawley BagnallAs we know that his father worked there (as a goods clerk) it would seem to make sense of this listing that Philip was also was a worker there – before he joined the draft in 1914. In fact, his service number, 2882, indicates that he would have joined up just after war broke out.

Records show that his battalion marched through Blythe Bridge and Draycott on the morning of the 10th August 1914, on their way via Checkley to Burton on Trent.  However, Philip would not have been with them at this point; he would have been enlisting at Booth St in Stoke, and then joined other new army recruits at Butterton Hall.
Following a short induction he would have joined the battalion at Saffron Walden and he may be one of the men shown below taken in early Sept 1914. (Note – they are still in civvies).

B Company North Staffs at Butterton

B Company North Staffs 5th Battalion at Butterton

However, as you said in your previous article, we still don’t know what his actual connection to Draycott was. Is there any relative of his who might know?

Hill 60

Next we know of him for sure is that he is in the fighting at ‘Hill 60’, a small plot of land which was the scene of bitter conflict during the time the 1/5th were there.   At certain times the distance between the trenches were as little as five metres – so close that listening posts were set up, thus enabling the poor sentry to hear the enemy talking and even smell their breakfast cooking!

Hill 60, 1915

Hill 60, 1915

They were also being constantly shelled by the enemy, with ten men killed and 42 wounded in the week ending 30th September 1915.  The Higher Command called this carnage ‘trench wastage’.

Sgt P H Bagnall gravestone

Sgt Bagnall’s gravestone

The battalion were at the site from late July until their last day there, the 30th September….. the day Philip was “killed in action”.

Sadly, very little else is known about him; and the society would love a photograph of him to add to our research on the Battalion… so, if anyone can help, that would be great.

We recently visited Ypres, and got to the Larchwood Railway cemetery, his final resting place; and managed to place poppies on his grave, and on the graves of the twenty-six other local men buried there.  May they rest in peace.

Lev
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If you can help with any more information, please email us, or leave a comment below.

Draycott War Memorial – our Great War dead

One of the mysteries that a previous generation has left us is: who are the seven men and one woman named on the Draycott War Memorial as having died in the two world wars?  The memorial sits on the north wall of St Margaret’s Church.

Draycott war memorial

Draycott war memorial inside St Margaret’s

None of the current parishioners seems to remember who the eight are, or anything about them; and there is nothing in church records.  (Well, nothing that has been easy to find!)

And also, in fact no one even remembered exactly when the memorial was put up.  Even the local book about the history of the village is silent on the matter.
But now we think we may have cracked the mystery…

Back to the sixties

One of the legendary local vicars, the Rev Charles Healey, arrived in 1966.  He knew about war, having served in World War Two; and one of the first things he asked for (according to the parish magazine of the time) was that a memorial should be erected in the village.

It took nearly two years to complete the project but in December 1968 (according to the Cheadle & Tean Times that week), in front of a packed church, the memorial, made of Hollington stone, was finally installed and dedicated.  The money had nearly all been raised in the village.
Reverend Healey was quoted as saying: “It seemed to me, since I came first, that it was a disgrace to this village that we have no War Memorial – though NO ONE hates war more than I do”.

Water-colour of St Margaret's Church.

Water-colour of St Margaret’s Church

But – who are the three men mentioned on the memorial; and why were they chosen?  The church records are completely silent on this matter.
You’d think the men’s descendants would have been mentioned, especially if they were the ones to nominate them – but there is no note of whether the men still had living descendants in the village in the 1960s.

Soldiers

Next, we tried the military records – but you have to be a real expert to find your way round those, even nowadays, when the records have mostly all been digitalised.
It is a fact too that you do not have to be born in an area to be on its war memorial; there needs only to be an association with the dead man, so you can’t even look in local birth records with any sureness…  (Strangely, this often means that a soldier can be mentioned on a lot more than just one war memorial up and down the land).

So, this is where we say a big Thank-You to Gillian and Alan Talbot, who kindly gave us a lot of time and help.  Gillian and Alan wrote the book ‘Uttoxeter’s Lost Generation’ in which they traced the story of every man from Uttoxeter who fell in the Great War, so they know their stuff.
Their book is fascinating; and you can buy copies of it at the Uttoxeter Town Museum.

So… here are what we all think are the stories of these eight…  We can’t be 100% sure – because the records are not as comprehensive as we’d like – but this is the best guess so far!

WORLD WAR ONE 1914-18

Harry Billings
The only Billings that seems to fit is William Henry Billings, who died 21st August 1915 during the Gallipoli fighting in Turkey. He was a private in the 7th Battalion North Staffordshire regiment (no 10431) and just 20 when he died. His parents Eliza Ann and Mathew (a cattleman) lived at Grange End Farm in Draycott (the farm is still there, on the Cheadle Road).  Eliza Ann & Mathew also had a daughter, Sissy, born in 1908.
It looks like Harry was born in Draycott in 1895 – but by age six, in 1901, he is placed as living in Church Broughton (near the Shropshire border).
Grave Reference: Sp. Mem. B. 39.

Philip Bagnall
There is a Phillip Hawley Bagnall listed in military records; and he looks the most likely to be the soldier who is named on the Draycott War Memorial, as he was in the North Staffordshire (Prince of Wales’s) Regiment, 1st 5 Battalion (no 2882).
But, his connection with Draycott is unclear…   This Philip Bagnall was born in 1886 in Stoke-on-Trent to father Richard (a railway goods clerk) and mother Catherine.  In 1911 it looks like he was boarding in Liverpool, where he was employed as a ‘seaman’.
He died in Flanders almost exactly 100 years ago on 30 September 1915, and is buried near Ypres in the Larchwood Cemetery.
Interestingly the CWGC and Soldiers-Died database give his rank as sergeant – but his medal card only says corporal (though with a previous unit as an Acting Sergeant).
Grave Reference: I. C. 5.
[ For even more about Philip Bagnall – click here  ]

Lionel Dobson
The only Lionel Dobson on the CWGC database was in the Canadian Infantry (78th Battalion) … !    A number of British-born men who had emigrated to Canada joined the Canadian army as a way of getting to fight in the war – and this might have been Lionel’s situation. (Canada, as part of the Commonwealth, was automatically drawn into the conflict on the British side).
His parents, Thomas and Annie, lived in Market Drayton in Shropshire, where he was born on January 4 1895, but, again, there seems to be nothing obvious in the UK records to connect him to Draycott.  However, interestingly, the Canadian records list his mother Annie as living in Upper Newton (near Cresswell) at the time of his death.
Private Dobson (no: 148656) was badly wounded fighting in France on 19th February 1917, and died at Rouen two days later.
Grave Reference: C. 18 at Bruay Communal Cemetery, north of Arras.

WORLD WAR TWO 1939-45

For the stories of   Bede Vavasour – Paul Dobson – Joyce Atkin – Laurence Cyples – Bernard Stubbs  please click here.

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Over to you

So, there you have it.  But do you know any more?  One local historian we spoke to says he thinks one Draycott/Cresswell man is missing from the memorial.  Do you know any different? Use the Comments-Box below, or email us, if you can help.
It’s also possible that Totmonslow personnel may be listed on the Tean memorial even though Totmonslow is within Draycott parish.

If you can help with any more information, please email us, or leave a comment below.

Draycott and World War One

This weekend will see most of the commemorative events to do with the 100th anniversary of the beginning of World War One.  Sadly, very little is happening specifically in Draycott district – though there is a special church service at St Peter’s in nearby Blythe Bridge on Sunday evening. (See our What’s On page for details of events near Draycott this weekend).

Exhibitions

However, you can see work by some children from Draycott in the exhibitions that are currently running in Blythe Bridge.

The children of William Amory Primary – where many of our youngsters attend – have created an installation which is very moving.
Especially moving are contemporary letters from the Front, which the children have painstakingly copied out.

William Amory School WW1 display

William Amory School’s WW1 display

You can see this work every Monday afternoon in August at BB Methodist Church Hall and on the morning of Saturday 9th August (See our What’s On page for details).

Blythe Bridge School WW1 display

Blythe Bridge School WW1 display at the library

The pupils at Blythe Bridge High have their exhibition at the library.  Not only have they created their own works of art, they have connected into the Letter To An Unknown Soldier project, in which they were asked to send a personal message to a soldier who served and was killed during World War One.  Again, very moving.

Memorial

Draycott-in-the-Moors does have its own war memorial, but, for some strange reason, it has not been recorded on national databases.  It’s not clear why not.  The local history society tell us that it is not listed by The War Memorials Trust or The UK National Inventory of War Memorials; and does not appear on any history sites that they have been able to discover.

Draycott war memorial

Draycott war memorial inside St Margaret’s

Admittedly, this roll of honour, which can be found inside Draycott St Mary’s Church, was erected long after most others were.
According to Sara Gibson (nee Kellaway):  “…it was put up around 1969, when Dr Healey was rector.   My Dad, a church warden, arranged for the stone from the quarry via Les Orme (who was a director and lived in Draycott parish)”.
Does anyone else have any more facts about the memorial?   You can use the comments box further down this page to add any information.

In fact, you may wish a few private moments at the memorial this weekend.  St Margaret’s is open to the public tomorrow (Saturday August 2nd) – between 2pm and 4pm.  You’ll find the memorial inside the church, on the north wall.

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