The CWGC Thiepval Memorial App

I’ve been trying out the newly released CWGC apps this week.  One app is for the men behind the names on the panels of the Thiepval Memorial, which has been receiving a great deal of attention this year, and the other is for people who are looking for CWGC War Graves or Cemeteries.  You can download these apps, free of charge on the Apple Store or on Google Play depending on the device you’re going to use them on. To access some aspects of these apps, you will need to be online, but there is still much that you can view without having to go online.

While this post focuses on the Thiepval Memorial app, you will be able to read an overview of the War Graves app in a separate post on this blog.

The Thiepval Memorial commemorates over 72 000 soldiers, by far the majority of whom were serving in either the British or the South African Forces, and who died before 20 March 2018 and have no known grave. The cut-off date for this Memorial was the start of the German Spring Offensive, also known as the Kaiserschlacht.  Tap on THIEPVAL on the opening screen and you’ll come across information about the Memorial and its location.

If you are looking for a particular soldier, you simply go to FIND A CASUALTY and search on the surname.  I searched on BIDDULPH because I have written up some of the story of Victor Roundell George Biddulph for Petersham Remembers, one of my war memorial blogs, and from that research I know that he is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial.

There was only one Biddulph summary in the search results. If there’s more than one search result, you’ll have to tap on your target’s name to view the details unique to him which will appear on the right of the summary.

The image below captures what appears to the right of Victor’s summary. This area is headed by the following four tabs

  • INFO, the basic information for the soldier;
  • his STORY, if available—here the icon is faint, showing that no story has been uploaded for him;
  • a PLAN of the memorial, on which the section with panels showing the soldiers’ names can be found and finally
  • an image of the name in its place on the PANEL.

ON THIS DAY delivers the story behind a man on this Memorial who died on that day’s date.  I’m viewing it on 17 September 2018 and the related story is for 17 September 1916. The soldier is C/12802 Sergeant Frederick George Blomeley of the 21st Battalion of the King’s Royal Rifle Corps. He was a trainee teacher at Leeds Training College but had enlisted on 8 December 1915.  He was rapidly promoted to Sergeant, reaching that rank in less than three months after enlisting.  Six months later he was dead, killed during an attack on Flers.  He was only 20. Searches continued to be made for bodies in that area until well after the war, but none were found.

There is as yet no story for our Victor Biddulph.  To see the 600 men whose stories are told, go back to the opening screen, and tap on THE 600.  Tap on one of the 600 photos, and the screen will display a larger image, and some information.  Most war memorial researchers are thrilled to find a photo of a serviceman whom they have researched.  It’s a great pity that so few photos have survived.  After the Armistice, the War Office asked each deceased soldier’s next of kin to provide a photo of the relative who had died on active service.  Some of them gave the only photo they had.

The TIMELINE provided is sobering, revealing the number of casualties suffered on The Somme day by day, until the cut-off date on 20 March 1918.

On no account should you skip DID YOU KNOW?  This offers you fascinating themes to explore! Do you wonder how many brothers died on The Somme?  How many casualties on the British ‘side’ were of other nationalities?  Tap on the country, and up they pop.  Apart from the United Kingdom with 71208 and South Africa with 824, a further 219 men came from 25 other countries. Besides all these, there are also categories for Sportsmen, Artists and those awarded the Victoria Cross.

I do think, though, that they might have spared those listed as SHOT AT DAWN.

Scots ‘abroad’ commemorated at The Scottish National War Memorial

Visiting the Scottish National War Memorial in the grounds of Edinburgh Castle arouses in me similar emotions to visiting Delville Wood on the Somme, or the graves of soldiers from West Africa in the cemetery at Dido’s Valley. Sometimes it’s the sheer scale of the burials, sometimes the poignancy of the wording on a headstone, or the distance of the cemetery from the bereaved families, that I find hard to contemplate.

The Scottish National War Memorial: this zone commemorates Scots serving in Scottish regiments based outside Scotland

I was at the Scottish National War Memorial last week intending to look for the memorial book in which I had been told a relative of James Douglas Cockburn ‘thought’ his name was recorded.   It’s one of three such books placed in front of this memorial.   The 4th South African Infantry Regiment, known as The South African Scottish, was raised as follows:  A Company was raised from soldiers serving in the Cape Town Highlanders, B and C Companies from the first two battalions of the Transvaal Scottish Regiment, while D Company was raised with the ‘encouragement’ of the Caledonian Societies of Natal and the Orange Free State.  If you visited the exhibition in the Scottish National Museum in 1914, you may have been struck by a huge image depicting a group of soldiers in the South African Scottish in their kilts, taken in June 1918.

James Douglas Cockburn served in the London Scottish in the Great War and his name is recorded on the Ham War Memorial, one of several war memorials, that I have been researching in the London area.  It’s not unusual to find Londoners serving in Scottish regiments and on Ham war memorial we have, besides the London Scottish, two from the Scots Guards, and others in The Cameronians (Scottish Rifles), the Seaforth Highlanders and the Highland Light Infantry. Sometimes, such as is the case with the War Memorial in Trinity United Reformed Church in Wimbledon, at least fifty percent of the surnames are clearly Scottish.

Here is the entry for which I was looking.

James Cockburn in the London Scottish Memorial Book.