On the First Day

The Battle of the Menin Road Ridge (Third Ypres) began a hundred years ago today. The Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial lists the names of over a thousand men who lost their lives during those 24 hours. Amongst those whose bodies were not recovered was John James TOMBLIN, a Huntingdonshire man who came with that county’s Cyclists to Filey – and found a wife. He married Elizabeth CAMMISH on the 19th April 1916, taking a respectable place in several of the other Old Filey families – Cappleman, Cowling, Haxby, Jenkinson, and Skelton. A son, Jack Crane TOMBLIN, was born on 29th April 1917 and made fatherless five months later.

There is a short but powerful video on YouTube that gives some context to the loss of life from all corners of Empire – there were many Australian and South African casualties – and the last letter written by Captain Reginald Henry GILL of the 28th Battalion AIF is a poignant reminder, if one is needed,  that cannon fodder had loved ones back home.

Many more died in this battle, on this day, but they rest elsewhere in Flanders. G/17480 Private JENNINGS, Wilfred Walter but recorded as Fred, is about five kilometers away at Hooge Crater Cemetery and his story can be found here. A similar distance further east at Tyne Cot there are 2,000 more men remembered for whom this was their last day.

With the help of Kath’s Filey Genealogy and Connections database and some further research, I have added a little to the TOMBLIN pedigree on FamilySearch Tree. If you haven’t done so already, check out John James and Elizabeth’s wedding photo on the Hunts Cyclists website.

TOMBLINjjJ J is remembered on the Filey War Memorial but not on the ‘Honours Board’ in St Oswald’s Church. Peterborough brought him home.

No. 32257

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the Commonwealth War Graves Commission giving a date for the death of Benjamin that differed from the one inscribed on the family headstone. My neighbor Graham, Ben’s great grandson, has not yet found the letter informing the folks back home that he was missing in action but has offered this photograph of his grave. It is clear now why the family put the 11th, and not the 12th, on the stone in St Oswald’s churchyard.

STORRYbwGrave_b

There is no indication on the photo of when and where it was taken, or by whom, but a couple of things struck me – the neatness of the stenciling on the simple wooden cross and the wintry appearance of the damp wood. Was Ben really fighting and dying for pieces of ground like this? Or for what you see in Today’s Image of Glen Gardens (taken early this morning).

nearWesthoek

I wonder if Ben was first buried in this wood before being taken the 60 kilometers or so to his final resting place at Gorre British and Indian Cemetery.