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 June 2016 Contents

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  The Jerry Dowlen Column

 

 

New Kipling Editions

 

The following is copyright Macmillan Publishers:

 

Throughout 2016 Macmillan is not only publishing a number of new editions of Kipling's most famous works, but new titles inspired by his familiar characters. New editions of The Jungle Book, The Second Jungle Book and Just So Stories showcase these beloved stories in beautiful new paperbacks, which include the original black and white illustrations. The Jungle Book was illustrated by J Lockwood Kipling, Rudyard Kipling's father, as well as by C I E and W H Drake. The Second Jungle Book was illustrated wholly by J Lockwood Kipling and Just So Stories was illustrated by Kipling himself. Additional material in each book includes a quiz, a glossary and activities based on the stories. Set in the grounds and area around Bateman's, Puck of Pook's Hill and Rewards and Fairies are being brought back into print. They include black and white illustrations by H R Millar and Charles E Brock respectively, and also a map of the grounds of Bateman's so that readers can see where each story takes place.

 

As usual,  huge number of books have arrived after my deadline of 23rd and will have to wait until the next issue (July) for inclusion... sorry, publishers, I have to have a cut-off date as there are loads of things I have to check and double-check before uploading this month's issue, and I can't keep adding new books up to the last day before uploading. If you've sent me a book for inclusion in Books Monthly, it will be in the next issue, I promise!

 

 

 

 

 

  Next month sees 100th Anniversary of the Somme...

  

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Remembering the Battle of the Somme - 1916

We're going to take a short break from nostalgic reminiscences of the 1950s, because 1st July 2016 sees the one hundredth anniversary of the beginning of the Battle of the Somme. I've spoken before about my paternal grandfather, who had the same name as my dad, Arthur Robert Norman. My granddad was a bricklayer, born in Mile End in London, and he joined the Middlesex Regiment in 1916 and died during the first few weeks of the Battle of the Somme. What worries me is that I cannot, for the life of me, remember ever asking either my Mum or my Dad about his side of the family. I became aware from an early age that my maternal grandfather died a couple of years before I was born, and there were always plenty of family photographs showing him and the uncles who made up my Gran's family - Henry William Kimber died in 1943, and I remember seeing a photo of him in some kind of military uniform, so I would now hazard a guess that he died during the war but not in active service. I was told that he and my Gran had meetings of the local Labour Party in their back room in Boverton Drive, Brockworth, Gloucester, a fact of which I am immensely proud. I've also seen a photo of him in a dress uniform with R.A.O.B. on it - The Royal Antedeluvian Order of Buffaloes. He looked immensely proud to be wearing it. Wikipedia states "Membership is open to all males over the age of 18 who are willing to declare that they are "true and loyal supporters of the British Crown and Constitution". He was born in 1888 so might have seen service in the First World War, but would have been in his early fifties at the outbreak of the second, although he may have been a member of the Home Guard. Other than that, and the fact he and my Gran had seven children, I know very little about him, and the opportunity to ask Gran, my Mum or my Dad about him has now passed. At least he survived the Great War, something to be thankful for. Not so my paternal grandfather...

 

I don't know if it's rare for my generation to have knowledge of only one of four grandparents or if it's common because of the conflicts in which they might have served. I only know that now, as I near seventy myself, I wish I had asked more questions. I don't recall ever asking my Dad or my Mum about his mother and father. He did have a collection of medals from members of the family who had fought in the first world war, including one enormous one, the size of an olympic medal, which subsequent research revealed to have been given posthumously to everyone who had died in that conflict. My cousin Eileen conducted her own research into Arthur Robert Norman, and kindly sent me a copy of the family tree she had commissioned, going back to when the family name was Grant, in the 18th century, and a brief account of how Arthur Robert Norman (opposite right) had been on patrol and had died along with over three hundred of his comrades (see below). He is listed on the 1911 census as a bricklayer by trade, living in West Ham, and would have been twenty-eight or twenty-nine years old when that census was taken, married to Emily Kemp, and with just one child, my Aunty Ivy, who was born in 1910. Aunty Florrie was born in 1911, but that must have been after April, as she is not on the census.

 

Was my paternal grandfather one of those men who enlisted along with his "pals", i.e. a member of a bricklayers' battalion, maybe? That was a common occurrence when the powers-that-be were recruiting. Why did he wait until 1916 to enlist, when he was perfectly old enough to enlist in 1914? Maybe he was conscripted. Conscription began in 1916 for single men aged 18-40, but was swiftly rolled out to include married men. Is there, somewhere, a photograph of Private Arthur Robert Norman G/8189 in uniform? It's likely, indeed probable, but will I ever see it? Further research is needed. There's a photo somewhere of his name on the Thiepval Memorial - I can't locate it at the moment, but his date of death online is given as 18th August, so not the first day on the Somme (see this month's book of the month on the History/Military History page), but a few weeks into the conflict.

 

The 13th Middlesex Regiment's transcript for the 18th August 1916 reads: "2nd August 1916: Moved off at 4.30 a.m. by road reaching Saily-Le-Sec 7.30 a.m. Rested by river for day, moved off 6.30 p.m. to HAPPY VALLEY reaching there at 8.30 p.m. Camped there. Training each day 5.30-9.0 a.m. then bathing. 8th August 1916 (Happy Valley): 2 p.m. marched across ridge to camp in valley on other side in bivouacs. Practiced attacking GUILLEMONT trenches till JULY 17th. 17th August 1916: Battalion moved up into trenches B.A.I etc. and ARROW HEAD COPSE. QUEENS were to have gone over this night but did not do so. Enemy counter barrage very heavy during night. Lt. MOLESWORTH wounded. 18th August 1916: LIEUT. BURT first wounded by own shells then killed while going down to dressing station. 2nd LIEUT. De PASS wounded in shoulder by own shells. CAPTs MIDDLESTON, REEVES and LIEUT. PARKES buried in TEAL(E) TRENCH and were dug out. CAPTs MIDDLESTON & REEVES went to Hospital. 2.45 p.m. battalion attacked GUILLEMONT trenches but was held up just outside them by M.Gs from strong point on right and then shelled heavily while lying in the open. CAPTs REED (see photo opposite), JAMES & VAUGHAN killed. 2/LIEUTS. ADAM, BURCH & BLACK killed, LIEUTs ALLEN, KING, TROWER, NICHOLSON & SMITH wounded. About 340 O.R. casualties. Bn Moved to BRICQUETTERIE for night."

 

Another source states: Farther west, the left battalion of the 73rd Brigade. the 13/Middlesex, had suffered severely under the bombardment, its total losses amounting to nearly four hundred. The enemy advanced from his barricade in Wood Lane and, in the course of heavy fighting, pressed back the Middlesex and bombed his way along Tea(le) Trench, the British front line, nearly as far away as north street, another detachment pushed south-eastward into Orchard trench and was held, mainly by the efforts of the 2/ Leinster which hurried up by company from brigade support". 

 

Further research seems to suggest that this "action" was part of the Battle of Delville Wood. Wikipedia gives the order of battle for the various brigades/battalions which took part in this action, with the 13th Battalion (part of the 73rd Brigade, which was part of the 24th Division) seeing action from August 30th - September 3rd 1916. However, as my granddad was killed on 18th August 1916, this would suggest that there were a number of minor skirmishes before this "action". Having said that, casualties of 340 other ranks and various officers on the same day hardly constitute a minor skirmish, so further investigation is needed, such as this, just found: 13th (Service) Battalion. 73rd Brigade, 24th Division: Arrived Saleux by train (25/7) and marched to billets at Molliens-Vidames. Entrained at Hangest-sur-Somme for Vecquemont (31/7) and from there marched to Corbie. To Happy Valley (2/8), trenches at Arrow Head Copse (17/8). Attack towards Guillemont (18/8) - advance on right of Trones Wood Road checked by cross fire. Withdrew to La Briqueterie.

 

 

My granddad, Arthur Robert Norman, was one of the O.R. (Other ranks) who was killed on the 18th August 1916, Duke of Cambridge's Own, Middlesex Regiment, 13th Battlion, Service No. G/8189, leaving a wife, Emily, and four children, Ivy, Florrie, Doris, and my Dad, also Arthur Robert Norman. I'm now beginning to wonder if he was killed "by own shells" rather than by the enemy... At some point in the ensuing years, my Grandmother, Emily, remarried someone called Matthews, with whom she had a fifth child, my Uncle Eddie, and at some point thereafter, he went to live with my Dad, my three aunties, and my Great Uncle Leopold Septimus Norman and his wife Maggie. I do remember asking why Uncle Eddie had a different surname and we were told that he was abandoned by his parents and went to live in the house where the four Norman children were being brought up. Uncle Eddie adored my Dad - I always got the impression that he had been "rescued" by Dad from the Matthews house, but that's a story for another day, maybe.

 

It's a story worthy of a romantic novel with the backdrop of the First World War and culminating, I guess, in my Dad meeting and marrying my Mum, and becoming close friends with two of my Mum's brothers, John and Ernie. But it's a story we may never get to the bottom of now, because me and my sister Jean and my cousin Eileen are the oldest surviving members of the Norman family, and I very much doubt if what happened to Emily and her four children was ever documented in any way. All I know is that it is only after Mum and Dad died that we started to think about Granddad Arthur Robert Norman and his family, our ancestors, who were so cruelly left to fend for themselves, like so many other wasted lives blighted by the First World War. With the anniversary of the Battle of the Somme now almost upon us, it is fascinating to think of my grandfather in the trenches - there are a few more books on the Somme coming in the next issue - I live in hope that one day I might see a photograph in one of them of some of the "lads" of the 13th Middlesex Battalion, The Duke of Cambridge's Own - I know so little about him, and want to know so much more. I think he looks so much older than the 34 years that he actually was. Would that I had asked so many more questions when the older generation were still around...

 

The July issue will be a Battle of the Somme special, in association with Pen and Sword. See you in July!

 


 

The small print: Books Monthly, now well into its eighteenth year on the web, is published on or slightly before the first day of each month by Paul Norman. You can contact me here. If you wish to submit something for publication in the magazine, let me remind you there is no payment as I don't make any money from this publication. If you want to send me something to review, contact me via email and I'll let you know where to send it.