Not far from Ledbury, a quiet market town not far from the Malvern hills lies the village of Bosbury. The road runs through the middle of it, with former official cottages now residences. Where once there were police houses now homes. The primary school still takes a large position in this village, its entrance lane sits almost opposite the grandest of church sites, with not one but two building to pique one’s interest.
Inside Trinity Church at Bosbury, a massive stained glass window looms large and engaging over the church. Given in Memorium to two: one a boy of 4 who died in 1895 Charles Baskerville Mynors and the other Arthur Clynton Baskerville Mynors – 60th Rifles died in Zululand. ‘Bunny’ Mynors, as he was known, died of dysentery at Fort Pearson, Natal on the 25th April 1879 fighting in the Anglo-Zulu Wars. He was 22 years of age. His mother came from Bosbury.
There are two war graves here at Bosbury church. One from World War One and one World War Two.
But the war memorial which sits in prominent respect alongside the main road should be observed.
It is a classy piece. Red sandstone surrounds a bronze tablet now tinged turquoise by weather and age.
Respectful words, important words with names bracketed by a metal fence keeping guard on it year on year.
Inside the church is a similar honouring of men. With gilded lettering and a wood-panelled memorial…
Here are written the names of men of Bosbury who fell in the Great War and in their death won freedom
For each year, for each date – the name of a man. There is even one man who died in 1927, another member of the fallen army who died from the effects of their war service beyond the war and war dead.
There is another for those who fell from this parish from the Second World War.
John Harford Pitt
A captivating brass tablet commemorates a man with an extensive soldiering career before the Great War. It reads:
Captain John Harford Pitt
Shropshire Imperial Yeomanry 1892
Scott’s Railways Guards, Colonial Defence Corps
South African War 1899-1902
South African Imperial Light Horse
German West and East African Campaigns
In the Great War 1914-1917
Died of fever while on active service
April 16th 1917
He is a nameless Captain J. H. Pitt, Supplies, South African Service Corps on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website. He is commemorated on the Mombasa British Memorial in Kenya. Inscribed on the base of the Cross of Sacrifice, it remembers all those who died and were buried at sea off the coast of east Africa.
He was the eldest son of his namesake father John Harford Pitt, farmer and he grew up Temple Court in Bosbury in rural Herefordshire. The farm and house were on the site of an old Knights Templar and Knights Hospitaller preceptory. From the brass tablet, John enlisted in the Shropshire Imperial Yeomanry in 1892. He served during the Boer War and went on to become a Captain in the South African forces.
Before the war, he worked at the City and Suburban Gold Mining Company in Johannesburg as a road surveyor and assistant compound manager before joining the 1st South African Mounted Brigade Train and embarking in January 1916. The Mounted Brigade Train provided supplies and baggage for each of the mounted units fighting in German East and West Africa. Experience he must have obtained from his time in the Boer War.
The brass tells us in more detail that he died of a fever, and his service record adds that he died of cerebral malaria on board the hospital ship HMHS Guildford Castle. He was buried at sea. He was 45 years of age and was married.
There are some who would say that history has nothing to teach us about other than past mistakes. But if you should look closely on the bronze war memorial and the wooden memorial panel, the name Alan Buchanan appears.
After his son 3186 Private Alan Buchanan died in the First World War, his father Robert Buchanan left his 700 acre land and farms at Bosbury to the nation for use by ex-servicemen who needed help, support and a new start on small-holdings after the ravages of the Great War. It joined places like Sunk Island near Hull (otherwise re-named Crown Colony of Patrington) which in 1917 also set up cottages and land for ex-servicemen from the Great War but all had problems long-term keeping to the ideals.
Two years ago, once again Robert Buchanan’s idea flew free to help modern-day ex-servicemen come back to the land, their lives and their identities. The Buchanan Trust was set up two years ago with a new focus on the ambition of what Robert wanted; a commemoration of his son’s service by helping those former servicemen and comrades in the 21st century. History teaches us about service, about making the right choices and about people.
Alan Buchanan lost his life serving with the 1st/10th King’s Liverpool Regiment on the 16th June 1915 at Hooge, near Ypres in Belgium. He was 25 years of age. Killed by a shell, his memory remains on the Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing in Ypres. His father’s memorial gift to the nation required a piece of new legislation so that the state could accept such an offering. A father’s last request that he could help those who fought along side his son and those who had, perhaps, been in his son’s shoes.
The hundreds of acres of land were put in the control of the Ministry of Agriculture for use with those ex-servicemen who wanted to set themselves up on the land in the relative peace of the Herefordshire countryside.
I’m sure Robert would be pleased to see the land being returned for that which he always planned. A proud man, a proud father. He died in 1920.
I hope it succeeds. I wish it well. Who says history teaches us nothing than past mistakes? Sometimes it is just a reminder of past ideals, and time gives us a chance to put them right again.
These are the men who never returned from the Great War whose memorials lie at Bosbury in Herefordshire:
Captain John Harford Pitt
DoB 1872 Stoke Edith, Herefordshire DoD 16th April 1917 East Africa age 45
South African Service Corps
1st South African Mounted Brigade Train
Commemorated: Mombasa British Memorial, Kenya