Sunday, 5 August 2012

INTRODUCTION

This work was complied by myself from a great number of resources over a number of years. 
I began the study of the First World War when I was a nipper of 17 as part of a school project and it just snowballed into collecting, talking to veterans, (this was in 1984) and eventually leading to visits to what was No Mans Land around the Somme, Ypres, Mons, eerily silent fields nowadays, punctuated with the mass graves of a butchered generation which are still graciously cared for by some very dedicated individuals, and a few other places which as I recall them I shall tell you about which is the beauty, I suppose of blogging-it can be added to as you recall things and it can be reshaped into something half way decent if you put the effort in.
Being born 59 years after the end of that bloody conflict, that was scarcely talked about, and to be honest in some respects was better left that way given the number of fools, know-it-alls and extremists that have jumped on the bandwagon in recent years, I was as distant from the subject as could possibly be; I had a Great Granddad who had served without distinction, except perhaps when his latrine digging unit was attacked way behind the lines by the Kaiserschlacht German offensive in 1918 which his unit should have been safe but was overwhelmed along with a lot of others; this was possibly the only time he ever shouldered a rifle in anger. 
He was shot in the leg, his first and last injury of the war, and safely transported from the hell of digging latrines to sunny England. His Captain sent him a pound, for his trouble and they wrote each other to the end of their lives.
I had been interested in militaria for a little while (as it turned out another granddad that I never knew dealt in military surplus, and also shared with me a love of flying things so it's funny how things work out! but it took a visit to an old peoples home under orders from school, to interview old people for a project put forward by a disinterested teacher from within the comprehensive system, I met an 87 year old who had fought in a unit called the Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry.  The what?  That sounded like something from the Napoleonic era, yet here was this regiment and lots more like them fighting knee deep in mud and mechanised warfare.  This clash interested my deeply and the interest was born. I wanted to know more and repeatedly went back with note books until he too passed on.  This in turn led to regimental association contacts and further meetings with old people.
another small event was that an old friend gave me a photo of our local company, looking well turned out, at their drill hall in Barton Upon Humber.  There was no names on the back no identification of anybody.  That had to change.  I pieced together a lot of information from then, visiting people who recognised their fathers but it was difficult as quickly I found out that of those 40 men, there loss rate was in total from that grouping about 85 per cent.  But, we did find names, others are lost in time, however we did our best and the information snowballed. 

Anyway for now that's enough if that, lets get on with the story of Barton in the Great War.

Acknowledgements: Mr. Brian Peeps of Barton Upon Humber for access to his superb photos.
The late Mr G. Hugh Varah and his late wife Dorothy for all their help with the Barton Parish magazines, and for information that came from his photographic memory.  (Hugh was the brother of Chad of the Samaritans.  He himself served behind the German lines with SOE in the Second World War with what would have been distinction had he been permitted to talk about it.
    
The late Mr. Alfie Coulam, a wonderful man who successfully avoided the War thanks to a reserved occupation, and no man minded that he did, thanks to a job in the cycle industry  whose strong memory showed up a many a face from old photos.

A whole host of veterans who will be named herein, interesting varied men from whom I learned more about life than my peers could ever teach me.

The Lincolnshire Pals, a meeting group that discuss all things about our region about the Great War. 
    The many hostels and hotels including the much missed Sint. Nikolas of the main square in Ieper where I unknowingly ate things like horse meat and ox tongue, and the old lady said I was ''a very naughty boy'' for going out without breakfast Oh well.

The hospitality that is always shown on visits to Flanders fields, places like Hill 60 museum (Jacques) the Irish bar at Mesen. 

Suppose I should sign it

Sean Casey 2012 August 5th.

98 years and one day after it all started for Britain and Ireland.

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