Nether Wallop Hampshire

Nether Wallop is a pretty little village, a quaint reminder of how England’s villages used to be. And for those who know and love Joan Hickson’s Miss Marple may know that St Mary Mead was for a time Nether Wallop.

St Andrew’s Church in Nether Wallop is tucked into the hillside at the end of a dead end lane. The graveyard hidden around it but that opens onto countryside as it trips and falls around the church.

There are 18 men whose names adorn the Great War Memorial inside St Andrew’s Church in Nether Wallop in Hampshire. One of those men is buried in the churchyard and two other serviceman are also buried here.

85718 Private William Herbert Bundy, Royal Army Medical Corps DoD 21st November 1916, aged 32

Captain Oswald William Morgan, Royal Field Artillery and Royal Flying Corps DoD 3rd February 1918

65310 Driver William Harman, Royal Field Artillery, 13th Reserve Battery, DoD 14th February 1915 aged 23

Captain Oswald Morgan does not appear on the war tablet. Neither does Will Harman. But we will come on to Will’s memorial.

William Herbert Bundy was the village’s postman. He enlisted late in 1916. His death was caused by pneumonia caught on training just after being called up. He was buried at Nether Wallop and his grave is marked by a Commonwealth War Grave headstone.

Oswald William Morgan was born in South Africa but with connections in Rhodesia (modern day Zimbabwe). He had served with King Edward’s Horse as well as the Royal Field Artillery before joining the Royal Flying Corps. His death was caused when the aeroplane he was flying crashed after take-off. He had another passenger, Lieutenant Peacock, with him who also died and was buried at Tidworth. Oswald was buried at Nether Wallop as he had been staying in the vicinity at the time. A Commonwealth War Grave headstone marks his grave.

But there are more signs of the impact of the Great War on this little village.

William Harman

It appears that history forgot about William Harman. Well maybe just military record. Will was a non-commemoration case. Someone who was lost from record as a casualty of the Great War and in 2008, some very good person ‘re-discovered’ him for history.

William had been peacefully slumbering here since 1915; buried carefully and with consideration. His gravestone inscribed with detail and forethought:

In loving memory of William devoted son of James and Mary Harman who passed peacefully away February 15th 1915 aged 22 years
A light is from our household gone A voice we loved is still A place is vacant in our home Which never can be filled
Greater love hath no man than this that a man lay down his life for his friends

His parents James and Mary Harman lived at Garlogs Cottages in Nether Wallop. His father was a shepherd and he had worked on the farm as a carter before the war. He was a country boy.

Will enlisted in January 1915 and was not long into training when he became unwell. He died the following day from cerebral meningitis. His body was transferred home to be buried. He died at Alexandra Hospital, Cosham near Portsmouth in Hampshire. He did not qualify for a war gratuity or medals as he had not served when he died on the 14th February 1915.

In 2008, his name was added to the commemorated war dead at Nether Wallop in Hampshire. Mislaid but never forgotten.

Herbert Walter Grace

It is a little sad when I come across a fallen grave stone. Particularly when you find memorials to people who potentially have no other marker. For that is the case of Herbert Walter Grace. His remains have disappeared with history.

On the fallen grave stone of his father Sydney Grace who died in 1926 in his 60s, is this:

Herbert Walter Grace who died in Turkey 1915 aged 18 Rest in Peace

His mother Kate also lies in this grave.

His father was a police constable born in Lower Wallop nearby in Hampshire. Herbert enlisted at Bustard Camp on Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire with the 1st/4th Battalion Hampshire Regiment.

The 1st/4th was a Territorial Force. They sailed for India in October 1914, a few months after war broke out and joined the 2nd Rawalpindi Division there in early January 1915. But they were not to stay there for long. In March 1915, the 1st/4th were moved with the 33rd Indian Brigade and landed at Basra in modern-day Iraq. Back then in was Mesopotamia and Persia. They were to remain there for the duration of the war.

This part of the Great War is often over-looked or simply forgotten. It was fought in the Middle East, by British and Commonwealth troops, including large numbers of Indians and Australians against a majority Ottoman force with German officers.

The British had some success on arrival but forces under General Townsend lost a sickening battle of Ctesiphon in November. Over half the 8,000 men had been killed or wounded. On their retreat back towards Basra, they stopped off at the town of Kut. The ensuing Ottoman forces encamped outside. Between December 1915 and April 1916, the British forces found themselves under siege at the town of Kut-al-Amara by thousands of Ottoman forces. The British-Indian garrison contained nearly 12,000 British and Indian men. The 1st/4th had a torrid time here. The 1st/4th Headquarters and A Company were inside Kut when it was besieged.

Conditions inside the town became appalling. Food was lacking, medical treatment was non-existent and the winter weather caused desperate problems for the soldiers stuck inside the town. Disease was incessant. The river Tigris threatened the town with flooding. Food rations had to be reduced so men were forced to eat grass, attempt to catch fish and shoot wild birds. The siege lasted 147 days. 147 days of heavy shelling, snipers, disease and foul weather. Yet they dug their trenches, they took their positions and they held out hoping for a saviour. There were several attempted relief attempts with the loss of many, many more men including the remaining companies from the 1st/4th Hampshires. On 21st January 1916, on one attempt to relieve Kut; casualty figures amounted to 13 out of 16 officers and 230 out of 339 other ranks. The Ottoman forces had stopped trying to fight them, their sole plan was to starve them out.

The end came in April. The British garrison was forced to surrender on the 29th April 1916.

After the embarrassed retreat from Gallipoli at the end of 1915, the British government wanted explanations for the events of Kut. A parliamentary enquiry took place. But the repercussions of the siege of Kut went further than just those 147 days. For after their surrender, those 11,800 soldiers from Britain and India were forcibly marched to Ottoman prisoner of war camps. Suffering from disease, malnutrition, dehydration and then frog-marched across desert, given poor food led to cholera, dysentery and many many deaths. The staggering facts state that from those 11,800 men who left Kut on the 6th May 1916, 4,250 died on their journey or in the camps for the remaining two years of the war.

For Herbert did not die in Turkey, as his memorial states, but as part of the Mesopotamian campaign in the Middle East. He survived perhaps another few months, his official date of death being the 31st December 1916 aged 19 years. Perhaps this was no comfort to his family, but it does tell us how little information was passed back to loved ones; and indeed how confusion instilled over the years.

But the truth is this. Herbert was presumed dead on the 31st December 1916 but there is a note in his military record to say that he died on the 29th April 1916. The 29th April 1916 being the date that the men at Kut-al-Amara surrendered. He probably died at Kut during the siege or on their long march to no promised land. It is an appalling part of the First World War.

Herbert has no known grave. His name is immortalised on the Basra Memorial in Iraq. The Basra Memorial commemorates the deaths of over 40,000 servicemen who died in the Mesopotamia campaign in the Middle East between 1914 and 1921.

But he is also remembered here at Nether Wallop in Hampshire. On a fallen headstone, by family who loved him. Herbert Walter Grace. Gone not from memory, nor from history.

These are the men who never returned from the Great War whose memorials lie at nether wallop in hampshire:

private herbert walter grace

DoB 1897 South Norwood, Croydon, Surrey DoD 31st December 1916 Mesopotamia aged 19

4/3107 and 200986 1st/4th Battalion Hampshire Regiment

Commemorated: Basra Memorial, Iraq

Driver William Harman

DoB 1892 Hampshire DoD 14th February 1915 Queen Alexandra’s Hospital, Cosham, Hampshire aged 23

65310 13th Reserve Battery, Royal Field Artillery

Buried: St Andrews Church, Nether Wallop, Hampshire, England