The BBC’s Voices 16 tells ‘the story of a tumultuous year in the history of Ireland through the eyes of the people who lived it‘. I am very pleased that this super BBC project now includes excerpts from my project Blacker’s Letters.
The letters written by Lieutenant Colonel Blacker in May 1916 have now been published and you can read them all on the project’s website. The 9th Royal Irish Fusiliers is just about to move out of the line with the other battalions of 108th and 109th Brigades, 36th (Ulster) Division, to train and prepare for the forthcoming attack. The letters that will follow in June are hopeful of success…
On Memorial Day weekend, I have no better image to share than this one. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission headstone of an Englishman, living in Providence, Rhode Island who volunteered to serve with the Canadian Expeditionary Force. Sapper William Bustin died in Canada during the influenza pandemic and his remains were returned to Rhode Island for burial. The gravestone has been decorated by the cemetery staff in preparation for Memorial Day; the flag is held in a Rhode Island ‘World War Veterans’ flag holder. Beside him lies Edwin Jones, an Englishman born, a naturalised citizen of the United States, and a long-serving member of the Boston Police Department. He volunteered to serve early in the war with the British Army and was gassed in France. Discharged unfit for further service in 1918, he returned home and died less than three months later, aged 54. He is not commemorated by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and I will tackle that in the coming months. Two of Jones’ sons served: Markham F. Jones with the American Expeditionary Force in France, and Edwin H. Jones with the United States Navy.
The letters written by Lieutenant Colonel Blacker in April 1916 have now been published. The Battalion is now established in the line at Hamel engaged in the routine of trench life. This month’s letters also reveal some of Blacker’s thoughts on the Easter Rising.
The letters from April can be found by clicking on the linked image below:
The letters written by Lieutenant Colonel Blacker throughout January 1916 have now been published. This was the last month before the Battalion entered the line at Hamel, north of the River Ancre, where it would remain until after the attack on the first day of the Battle of the Somme.
The letters from January can be found by clicking on the linked image below:
This quote is taken from a report by the Seamen’s Institute about their cemetery plot in The Evergreens Cemetery, Brooklyn. Buried there are nine men commemorated by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. There are four other casualties of the First World War buried elsewhere in that cemetery. All of their stories are now complete and you can read them by following the links on this piece about the cemetery that appears on The Sacrifice Blog. ‘A Stranger in a Strange Land‘
The letters written by Lieutenant Colonel S W W Blacker in November 1915 have now been published; you can read them all in chronological order at the link below. The A-Z of personalities has been amended to include those who will appear in December’s letters.
I’m very pleased that a member of the Canadian contingent at Fort Gordon, Georgia, discovered the the story about Private James Stewart on the Sacrifice project. On 11 November 2015 they conducted an act of remembrance at his grave.
Corporal Allan Gudlaugson organised the event and I must say thank you to Marie-Carole Gallien for telling me about the event and for her super photos.
Stephen Taber, a contact made through the Western Front Association – East Coast Branch in the United States, has written this latest guest post about the diary of his second cousin, who served with the United States 42nd Division—The Rainbow Division. The edited diary has just been published by McFarland.
The ‘Rainbow’ Division, the 42nd, secured its name from a comment made by its future chief of staff—then Major Douglas MacArthur—that because of its composition of elements of National Guard units from 26 states it “would stretch over the whole country like a rainbow“.
One of the Division’s junior officer was Lieutenant John Taber, my second cousin. He had published a two-volume history of his regiment, the 168th (Iowa), in 1925 but he had related only a few accounts of his personal war experience to me before he died. One was that he could still smell over three hundred dead horses. Another was nearly bumping into President Wilson in a revolving door in Paris. Continue reading
The biographies of the three men buried in Tennessee are now complete.
Private Thomas Camp served in England with 23rd Reserve Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force. He was sent home suffering from tuberculosis and died on 2 May 1921 in the United States Public Health Service Hospital at Whipple Barracks, Arizona. He is buried in Chattanooga National Cemetery.
Sapper Lee Arvel Moss served in France and Flanders with 4thBattalion, Canadian Railway Troops. He died of tuberculosis at Sainte-Agathe-des-Monts, Quebec on 19 August 1919 and is buried in Short Creek Church Cemetery, near Athens.
Corporal William Vannah Taylor was born in Louisiana and served with 3rdCanadian Engineers Reserve Battalion in England. He died of nephritis in Memphis on 25 August 1919 and is buried in Forest Hill Cemetery Midtown.