Yesterday, 31 October, saw the 99th anniversary of the death of the first association member which was due to the war. Pte Walter Eric Markey, 1st Battalion, the Queen’s (Royal West Surrey Regiment) of Burstow was killed during the Battle of Gheluvelt, part of the First Battle of Ypres. This desperate action prevented the fall of Ypres to the Germans. A good account of the actions of his battalion can be found on Andy Arnold’s blog. Walter’s body was never recovered and his name is among those on the Menin Gate.
Today is the 99th anniversary of the death of Alfred Bashford of Nutfield. He had served as a regular in the Royal Navy in the first years of the 20th century, but by the outbreak of war was a reservist. Following his call-up he was posted to HMS Good Hope, a rather elderly armoured cruiser, itself in the reserves. A large proportion of the crew were reservists like Alfred. The ship became the flagship of a small squadron of similar vessels sent to the Pacific to deal with German commerce raiders. On 1 November the Royal Navy squadron met its German counterpart off the Chilean port of Coronel. Completely out-classed they suffered a devastating defeat. Good Hope and her sister ship HMS Monmouth were sunk with the loss of approaching 1600 men. They would subsequently be avenged in the Battle of the Falkland Islands.
This all serves to remind us that we are now in November, and the run-up to Remembrance Day, the last which falls before the centenary period. This is likely to prompt some announcements of further details of centenary commemorations: the Welsh government officially launched Wales Remembers this week, and I understand there will be more details on the centrepiece Lives of the First World War project announced shortly.
Coincidentally this week has also brought news of a new bell ringing resource, with the delayed launch of digitised versions of the second thirty years issues of The Ringing World becoming available, this covers the years 1941-1970. This will extend the possibilities for research into the later lives of many of the men recorded on the roll. I’ve also ordered the newer version of the digitised version of Bell News, which has full OCR which should make research into their earlier lives easier too. In the version I currently have there is no full text search, so you have to use the index provided (which only tends to cover towers and the most “famous” ringing names), which means you have to rather guess where someone might have been ringing, and so you miss information on their ringing at unexpected places.