Two brothers Charles and William both died within a few days of each other from influenza. They were buried days apart, side by side in Taynton churchyard; where they are buried still.
You can see May Hill across the horizon for miles around. Its fir trees, which used to number one hundred, peak out from its top. History would tell us that every May Day Bank Holiday, morris dancers and minstrels would descend on the hill to celebrate. Now hikers and dog-walkers ascend its hillsides to marvel over the far-reaching views from its top; whilst ponies graze the heathland on its summit.
Harold Watkins enlisted for the First World War from the summit of Gloucestershire. He enlisted on January 7th 1915 with a fellow May Hill resident Harry Coleman. We can only guess the conversation: ‘I’m up for signing up; I’ll come with you. Its time we did our bit…’ Or words to that effect. Maybe it was the thought of the King’s Shilling; maybe patriotism or maybe just adventure. Harold and Harry from May Hill off to fight; how long before May Hill seemed so very far away. At what point did they start to think of the green grass of home…?
But Harold’s footsteps never made it back to May Hill. He died on the 9th October 1917 and is remembered on the Tyne Cot Memorial. His body never identified. He served as befitted a Gloster boy with the Gloucestershire Regiment and was 22 years old when he passed from life to death. Private 3159 Harold Watkins never came home from war; his parents Albert and Ellen Watkins placed his name on their own grave when his own father Albert died in 1921. Here his name stands in Taynton church cemetery.
Private Harold Watkins Son of the above Who was killed in action in France 9/10/17 aged 22 years
Harry, his May Hill comrade survived and returned once more to the Gloucestershire of home. Life utterly changed? We can only guess.
There are other memories to the fallen of the Great War in Taynton. Memories of men that once made lives, lived lives and failed to return after the great call.
Charles Franklin Nurse
Charles Franklin Nurse, Gunner in the Royal Garrison Artillery died of dysentery on June 10th 1918. His memorial appears on his parents’ grave: Sarah who died in 1925 and John Franklin Nurse who died in 1935.
Charles Franklin Nurse, RGA Son of the above who died on active service at Jerusalem June 10th 1918 aged 37 years Buried on the Mount of Olives
Charles Nurse was indeed buried in on the northern end of the Mount of Olives at Jerusalem War Cemetery. Born in Somerset, his memory lingers on where he and his wife lived, he worked as a gardener and where his parents farmed near Taynton.
Thomas Wetmore Ponting
And on so it reads:
There is one link Death cannot sever Love and remembrance Live forever In cherished memory of Thomas Wetmore Ponting of the 12th Battalion London Regiment Rangers Killed in action in Flanders April 21st 1915 aged 28 years
Rifleman Thomas Wetmore Ponting was buried at Bedford House Cemetery, south of Ypres in Belgium. His death may have occurred in the lead up to the Second Battle of Ypres which began the day after; 22nd April 1915 at St Julien. Thomas had joined up in August 1914 and arrived on the Western Front on Christmas Day 1914; the first Christmas of the First World War. He was schooled at Sir Thomas Rich’s Grammar School in Gloucester, but was working as a draper in London when war broke out. The sad news that mirrored so many other families was that Thomas’ father, Mr T. Ponting did not receive confirmation of his son’s death until the beginning of June 1915.
Unfortunately for Mr and Mrs Ponting of Longcroft, Taynton, this was not the only piece of bad news from the war. On the side of the memorial for his brother is the inscription for the official CWGC war grave of William Ponting, Lieutenant R.A.F. who died October 25th 1918 aged 37 years. He does not have a Portland Stone marker but lies with the memories of family. He died at the Cambridge Military Hospital at Aldershot.
Also of William Lieutenant RAF Dearly loved husband of Emily Ponting died October 25th 1918 aged 37 years
On the other side of this monumental memorial to war loss is a memorial to the third of the Ponting brothers.
Also of Charles Arthur City of London Guards Dearly loved husband of Helena Ponting who died October 21st 1918 aged 40 years Oh teach me from my heart to say thy will be done
The two brothers Charles and William both died within a few days of each other from influenza. They were buried days apart, side by side in Taynton churchyard; where they are buried still.