I love how names can change over time. It is an evolution of place and people. In North Somerset the village of Stogursey strikes a chord. Stoke Courcey or Stogursey as it is now known, has long association with its Norman history. St Andrew’s Church of Stoke Courcey dates from the 11th century when Normans took land after the Norman Conquest by William the Conqueror or William of Normandy.
Inside the church are some truly remarkable relics set in a vast, almost abbey-like sized church. Your voice echoes in a way no other does.
On one wall, a memorial to a man who died at 100 years of age in 1889. Thomas Palmer was born in 1789 and fought at Copenhagen, Coruna, at Badajoz, Salamanca and Madrid as part of Sir John Moore’s last surviving soldier, of serving with the 32nd Regiment.
Henry Sebastian Rawlins
Another tribute. Ancient family brasses mounted in tribute to Major H.S. Rawlins, 2nd Battalion 6th (P.W.O.) Rajputana Rifles killed on active service whilst ‘endeavouring to rescue his servant’ on the Kohat-Thal Road February 10th 1941 on the North-West Frontier. Major Henry Sabastian Rawlins was 40 years of age when he was killed. He is buried at the Karachi War Cemetery in Pakistan.
General Henry Horne, 1st Baron Horne was a witness at his wedding in Marylebone, London in 1926. His occupation given then as Captain in the Indian Army.
Henry is remembered on the memorial panels at the Memorial Chapel at Charterhouse School in Godalming, Surrey.
Outside in the churchyard, two official war graves. One who died in the Great War. One who died in the Second World War. Gunner A.H. Perry of the 60th Searchlight Regiment, Royal Artillery and the Middlesex Regiment who died on the 8th October 1945 age 28.
A truly sculptural and lovely memorial lies on the grave to Edward John Browning, 6th Somerset Light Infantry who died in Purdysburn Military Hospital in Belfast on July 9th 1919 age 21. His cause of death was cerebral-spinal meningitis. There is something very moving about the kneeling lady that sits upon his grave. The youngest son of J and A Browning of Colepool Farm, Stogursey.
Wallace Robert Buffett Ridler Rowe
On his parents’ grave, a memorial to their son who died on perhaps one of the most famous day in war history – the 1st July 1916. The first day of the Battle of the Somme.
W Rt Buffet Ridler Rowe Born August 19th 1893 missed from QnV Rifles in France July 1st 1916
Rifleman Wallace Robert Buffett Ridler Rowe served with the 9th Battalion London Regiment Queen Victoria’s Rifles. He got to France in November 1914 until December 1914. He then served in France from March 1916 until the day he was killed on the 1st July 1916.
Death presumed 1.7.16
He was living in Lambeth in London when he enlisted. He had worked as a draper.
On the 1st July 1916, the Queen Victoria’s Rifles had specific tasks to achieve that day at Gommecourt and Gommecourt Wood. Smoke was released on the trench lines, platoons were released at 6 and 4 paces apart. Despite the heavy barrage, as soon as it was ceased, German defences immediately appeared with a German barrage. Initial achievements came at a cost but they managed to get to the third line of German trenches. But by the end of the day, the most forward soldiers were swiftly returning back to their own frontline trenches due to heavy defensive formations. Machine gun fire and a lack of bombs pushed them back and back.
The casualty figures noted in the war diary for the Queen Victoria’s Rifles for the 1st July 1916 were:
Officers Other Ranks
Killed 6 51
Wounded 5 290
Missing 5 188
Total 16 529
A massive cost for no return that day. Just another story of the first day of the Battle of the Somme.
His parents lived at Harford House in Stogursey. They believed that he had died after being reported missing on the 1st July 1916.
He was buried at Gommecourt British Cemetery No 2 near Heburterne but his precise burial was lost over the duration of the war. He has a special memorial along with many others.
But he was never forgotten here at Stogursey in Somerset.
These are the men who never returned from the Great War and the Second World War whose memorials lie at Stogursey in Somerset:
Rifleman Wallace Robert Buffett Ridler Rowe
DoB 1893 Stogursey, Somerset DoD 1st July 1916 age 23 France
390114 and 1666 9th Battalion London Regiment Queen Victoria’s Rifles
Buried: Gommecourt British Cemetery No 2, Heburterne, France
Major Henry Sebastian Rawlins
DoB 1900 Dalhousie, India DoD 10th February 1941 age 40 Pakistan
2nd Battalion 6th Rajputana Rifles
Buried: Karachi War Cemetery, Pakistan