Work Underway at the Tower Hill Memorial to the Merchant Navy

I love to read news updates about war memorials being cleaned up and refurbished. It reminds me just how many people still value the ultimate sacrifice that our ancestors made - these are the best of good news stories. One such news item I came across today.

The large memorial to those that lost their lives in the service of the Merchant Navy has been under threat structurally for some time. Located just opposite the Tower of London, the classic Lutyens design bears 12,000 names with a memorial gardens home to another 22,000 names of those lost in the Second World War.

As work gets underway, there will be a temporary exhibition up with panels on the outside walls to help bring to life the stories of those commemorated.

Tower Hill 3.png

Peaceful Now

Like many others have collected over the years, I have literally thousands of present day battlefield images. Whether that's me exploring new places, taking coach tours or smaller private tours, I've got lots of memories kept in those jpegs. 

This is one of my favourites. 

This image captures something I love to do, particularly on the Somme, to just sit and reflect.  I've got quite a good imagination, so I often try to recreate the scene in front of me - to place the men, their movements, the sights and smells. After all, that's what a good guide does for their group. But, there is something so perfectly peaceful about sitting on your own and reflecting. 


Captured in Black & White

As I say pretty frequently on this site, it is the job of a tour guide to bring the land to life - to help you see what is essentially, a lot of green landscape! 

Every so often however, a photograph comes along that captures perfectly what we are looking at - helping to transport us back in time. 

Below is an image taken at Tyne Cot Cemetery 100 years ago and below that a modern view. 

Get in touch to come and explore some sites with me.


Take Lots of Photographs and Don't Delete Them!

I recently bought a new laptop, and on transferring my photographs to the new machine, found out that I had used almost all of my memory space.  It didn't take long to find out how that had happened - I had 22,000 photographs on there! 

Admittedly they weren't all battlefield photographs, there were lots of questionable ones from my Uni days where I'm throwing shapes on the dance floor often with a luminous blue tongue it seems! 

On scrolling through my battlefield snaps, I saw that I had many of the same photograph taken on different trips and tours.  I thought about deleting these but then realised that some of what I saw in the early days of my trips more than ten years ago can now no longer be seen. 

Some bunkers and points of interest have been reclaimed by nature, so those photos are all that remain of their existence.  Some bunkers have been left to fall into a state of disrepair and each picture shows a different element crumbling away.  It is such a shame when I return to spots to see that we can no longer view or enter bunkers which raises a question about whether there should be human intervention to protect these sites (though many are on private farmland). 

The moral of the story...don't delete those battlefield photographs! 

Opening the Trunk...

For many years I had heard from my Grandfather about 'the Trunk'.  This was his fathers trunk where all his Great War gear was stored.  When he returned from France, his wife understandably took his army clothing and related bits and bobs, put them in the trunk and refused to have it opened in the house.

Her husband, my Great-Grandfather of the Border Regiment, had been shot whilst attacking High Wood on the Somme. Whilst laying on the ground with a bullet wound in his thigh, a German came towards him and bayoneted him in the stomach.  Remarkably he survived this encounter and he wrote graphically about seeing his intestines next to him on the ground.

A few weeks ago, I was delighted to be at the opening of the trunk alongside my father and grandfather.  Here are the pictures!