Upton Snodsbury Worcestershire

I stumbled upon the little village of Upton Snodsbury in Worcestershire on a cold Sunday late afternoon. But the sunlight shone brilliantly enough to dance upon the freshly lime-washed church of St Kenelm’ Unfortunately the side of the churchyard had fallen onto the lane but from the rear, I was intrigued as I wandered up stairs and through impressive but curious yew arches that line the route to the church entrance. It was somewhat unfortunate to find the church locked but disappointment was allayed by the sight of the Roll of Honour sited above the door.

To the honour of those who fought for us in the Great War
1914 – 1918

Quite a statement.

I’m always pleased to see those who fought, not just those who made the final sacrifice, and the names of two men who gave due service at home during the war, adds a special kind of warmth to the soul. For although I know I complete this research about those who did not come back, for the most part, I see far more about those who did and made their own bold path in the world. Which in itself must have taken guts, self-determination and a human spirit to fight on beyond a war, in a world that was forever changed and more difficult. For the 1920s and 1930s was challenging for all. But what of the man who had fought the war to end all wars, to see another war ahead of them, to hear those immortal words of Neville Chamberlain that Britain was now in a war with Germany. What words went through their heads – I can only postulate, and consider. As I do now…

But back to Upton Snodsbury, a fantastically named place. As I wondered the churchyard of St Kenelm’s, with my coat wrapped tight and as that gorgeous sunlight seemed to make the church glow, I caught sight of just one memorial to a man lost to that war – that war to end all wars, in theory.

Never will his memory fade,
Sweetest thoughts will ever linger,
Round the spot where he is laid.

This is written to the memory of a son.

Henry ‘Harry’ Fleetwood

Watch and pray
In loving memory of
Harry Fleetwood
Beloved son of E. Fleetwood
Who died at Rouen from wounds
Received in action
March 31st 1918
Aged 29

Never will his memory fade,
Sweetest thoughts will ever linger,
Round the spot where he is laid.

Harry Fleetwood is buried at St Sever Extension Cemetery on the outskirts of Rouen in northern France. Rouen was used by the military to base several hospitals; he is buried along side a myriad of other regiments. He was 29 years of age when he died at the No 10 General Hospital stationed at Rouen serving as a Private in the 3rd Battalion Coldstream Guards.

The wounds that led to his death were probably received in the Spring Offensive, a large German attack on a wide area of the land which led to large-scale casualties and vast land gain. When the offensive started on the 21st March 1918, the Guards Division (which the Coldstream Guards were part of) were behind the lines training at Arras in northern France. They were quickly moved up to Ervillers, and then pulled back to Moyenville and Ayette. It may have been at any of these points that Harry was wounded.

In 1911, we find Harry living with his mother Elizabeth and his grandmother Helen in Upton Snodsbury – he’s a farm labourer. He enlisted in Worcester and joined the Coldstream Guards, probably making up the shortfall of regular soldiers fallen in the battle late in the war.

He was married to Clara Ann Payne in the first half of 1917, possibly before he went to the front. They were living at Upper Moor near Pershore.

Harry’s name is not on the Roll of Honour on the church at Upton Snodsbury; perhaps this is another relevant twist of fate. That men who served and died, and served and lived were remembered but men who perhaps had moved away were not. Many were remembered on war memorials, unfortunately Harry’s name is not on this one. Such is the way with commemoration.

These are the men who never returned from the Great War whose memorials lie at Upton Snodsbury in Worcestershire:

Private Henry Fleetwood

DoB 1888 Upton Snodsbury, Worcestershire DoD 31st March 1918 France age 29

20192 3rd Battalion Coldstream Guards

Buried: St Sever Cemetery Extension, Rouen, France