Gravelines

German forces kicked off The Battle of France on 10 May 1940. They muscled their way through the Netherlands and Belgium and on the 20th their forward Panzer units could see the River Somme flowing into the English Channel. Eight days later they had pushed the remnants of the British Expeditionary Force to a small strip of land at Dunkirk.

William BIGGINS, born in Filey in the summer of 1913, was a Lance Corporal with 6th Bn The Green Howards, part of the 23rd Northumbrian Infantry Division under Major General W. N. HERBERT. In the Order of Battle (1940) the Division is listed as a formation “undergoing training and performing labour duties” but, with France falling about their ears, nowhere was safe. William was killed on the 24th.

A kerb inscription in St Oswald’s, recorded by the Crimlisks, revealed that he was killed in action at Gravelines. While Kleist’s 10th Panzers half-circled nearby Calais, Gerd von Rundstedt’s armour attacked Gravelines. I don’t know how many other Allied soldiers lost their lives in this encounter but, towards midnight on the 24th, von Rundstedt asked Kleist to pause the Panzer advance. Hitler gave a “Halt Order” that has long puzzled historians – but it allowed the refuge at Dunkirk to be defended until the armada of small boats arrived.

Without the old kerb source, I may not have discovered William’s whereabouts on his last day. It has been replaced by a new headstone.

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William is buried at Longueness (St Omer) Souvenir Cemetery, about 20 miles south of Gravelines.

His pedigree on FamilySearch Tree isn’t extensive but Filey Genealogy & Connections takes his mother’s line back to the 17th century in Fenland, to Christopher SCOTTOW and Lucretia FISH.

Scottow · Scotter

Mark SCOTTOW was baptized this day, 1854, in Runton, Norfolk. In August 1917 Mark SCOTTER was “killed by enemy submarine”.

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The origins of surnames are often fancifully explained on websites that hope to sell you parchments but I found one today that suggested SCOTTOW derived from a village of that name in Mark’s birth county. It also pointed out that there was a village in Lincolnshire called SCOTTER.

Ancestry has re-designed the surname distribution maps it freely provides online.

1891_ScotterFamilies_Ancestry

Taken at face value, this map shows a Norfolk heartland and zero Scotters in Lincolnshire, so if one accepts the morphing of Mark’s surname in his lifetime, the Scottow theory looks good.

Mark was part of the Norfolk Scottow/Scotter diaspora to the Yorkshire coast and the above map doesn’t register the seven Scotter families in Filey in 1891. If you read the small print, though, you will see that Yorkshire has 42% of Scotter families in England and Wales in that census year. We need a more accurate map.

SCOTTOW is ranked =206 in Filey surnames with 23 males and 6 females.

SCOTTER is ranked =25 with 93 males and 85 females.

These are “unique individuals” in Kath’s Filey Genealogy & Connections database, not people counted several times in census returns.

I counted the birth registrations in the districts containing Scottow, Norfolk and Scotter, Lincolnshire in three decades, 1851-60, 1871-80 and 1901-1910, and in Scarborough Registration District.

There were no Scottows or Scotters registered in Gainsborough, Lincolnshire over those 30 years.

Thirteen Scottow births were registered in Erpingham, Norfolk in the first decade and none in the last.  There was one Scottow birth in Scarborough between 1851 and 1860 and three in the last decade.

For Scotter the count for the three decades in Erpingham was 5, 8 and 4.

For Scarborough, it was 4, 23 and 22.

This is a rather sketchy statistical analysis but it seems to confirm the growing acceptance of Scotter over the “original” Scottow – and the migration of Norfolk fisher families to the Yorkshire coast.

In 2011, David Scotter wrote three articles about the diaspora for Looking at Filey. You can learn more about Mark here.

Mark on FST.