First World War Memorials Bearing the Name Wolverson

In the summer of 2013, I sought the First World War Memorials in France & Belgium that beared my surname. This record integrates my passion of black and white photography to illustrate the places I visited with my family on that journey.

I remember my parents taking my sister and I to France and Belgium for a fantastic holiday when I was  a mere boy; a holiday that seemed to last the entire summer. We visited many interesting places; places I still remember vividly, if not for the scenery, but how we all reacted at seeing the impressive First World War memorials and the cemeteries with endless rows of white crosses, carpeting acres of seemingly-boundless land. The impact it had on me then, remains with me today.

Back in the seventies, it was my father’s reaction at finding Caleb Wolverson’s name on the Thiepval memorial that sticks in my mind:

He recalls consulting the on-site Memorial Register, discovering his name and then finding the plaque that beared it.

A simple task, yet one that yielded a revelation; perhaps a personal connection to one of the greatest world conflicts in recent history – for our family name is not a common one, and until that moment, we knew of no relative who had fought in the First World War.

That a relative fought and died for his country in the Great War was now a confirmed  possibility.

It was a humbling experience for us all. Even to me as a boy.

Years later, it was my recollection of that moment and a forthcoming holiday in the same region that inspired me to seek that very plaque and those of other Wolverson casualties who have been commemorated on First World War memorials in France and Belgium.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission website shows that four Wolversons were killed in active service during the First World War. Three of them have no known graves and have commemorations on  First World War memorials dedicated to the missing. The fourth has a known grave and is buried in a military cemetery.

~~~

Private Wilfred Saunders Wolverson

19907,  2nd Bn., Duke of Wellington’s West Riding Regiment who died on 3rd September 1916.

Remembered with Honour- Ypres Menin Gate Memorial, Belgium.

Memorial Reference: Panel 20

Private Caleb Wolverson

9749, 2nd Bn., South Staffordshire Regiment who died on 13th November 1916 at the age of 21 years.

Son of William and Ann Wolverson of 65, Birmingham Street, Willenhall, Staffordshire.

Remembered with Honour – Thiepval Memorial, France.

Memorial Reference: Pier and Face 7 B

Corporal Edwin (Edward) Wolverson
Edward Wolverson

Corporal Edwin (Edward) Wolverson

17392, 13th Bn., Royal Welsh Fusiliers who died on 1st August 1917 at the age of 25 years.

Son of John Wolverson of 8, Cross Street, Bradley, Staffordshire.

Remembered with Honour – Dozinghem Military Cemetery, Belgium.

Grave Reference: II. D. 1

Gunner John Henry Wolverson
John Henry Wolverson

Gunner John Henry Wolverson

136418, “A” Bty. 160th Bde., Royal Field Artillery who died on 20th October 1917.

Remembered with Honour – Tyne Cot Memorial, Belgium.

Memorial Reference: Panel 4 to 6 and 162

~~~

Corporal Edwin Wolverson, is the only casualty in this list with a known grave and is buried at Dozinghem Military Cemetery, on the northern outskirts of Poperinge, Belgium. My only regret  is that I did not get to see this cemetery. With a little more thought on my part, I could have included that visit to make this search complete.

In Search Of John Henry Wolverson, Tyne Cot Memorial, Belgium

Travel Itinerary: Poperinge | The Yorkshire Trench | Tyne Cot Memorial

Poperinge, Belgium

A thoroughly enjoyable visit to Poperinge’s Hop Museum.

Outside the Hop Museum, Poperinge, Belgium

The Hop Museum, Poperinge, Belgium

Hop Museum, Poperinge

A Cart & Barrel Inside The Hop Museum, Poperinge, Belgium

The Yorkshire Trench, Belgium
The Yorkshire Trench, Ypres, Belgium

The Yorkshire Trench, Ypres, Belgium

Tyne Cot Memorial, Belgium
Tyne Cot Cemetery, Belgium

Tyne Cot Memorial, Belgium

Tyne Cot Cemetery, Belgium

Tyne Cot Memorial, Belgium

My list indicated that I would find John Henry Wolverson’s name on panels 4 to 6 and panel 162. The panels are at the back of the cemetery site and are shown in the above photograph. They are numbered in ascending order from left to right.

Leaving my wife and young boy together, I wandered off on my own to search for the appropriate panels and to look for John’s name. I spent ages searching for his name on panels 4 to 6. When my wife met with me some time afterwards, she said “There it is! Panel six. Middle column. One, two, three… seventh name down.”, having located his name with relative ease.

Tyne Cot Cemetery Panel 6 Wolverson

Tyne Cot Memorial, Panel 6, Wolverson John Henry

Panels 4, 5 & 162 were indeed dedicated to the Royal Field Artillery. Only panel 6 beared the name, John Henry Wolverson.

In Search Of Wilfred Saunders Wolverson, Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres, Belgium

Travel Itinerary: Menin Gate Memorial | Sanctuary Wood Museum – Hill 62 | The Spanbroekmolen Crater

Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres, Belgium
Entrance to In Flanders Fields Museum, Ypres, Belgium

In Flanders Fields Museum, Ypres, Belgium

We visited the In Flanders Field Museum and then I climbed the many stairs to the top of the belfry.

Belfry, Ypres, Belgium

In Flanders Fields Museum Belfry, Ypres, Belgium

And what a wonderful view, despite my poor head for heights.

Belfry, Ypres, Belgium

A Turret on the Belfry, Ypres, Belgium

The Menin Gate

The Menin Gate – View From In Flanders Fields Museum, Ypres, Belgium

And then a short walk to the Menin Gate via Menenstraat.

To the armies of the British Empire who stood here from 1914 to 1918 and to those of their dead who have no known grave

Menin Gate (Front), Ypres, Belgium

TO THE ARMIES OF THE BRITISH EMPIRE WHO STOOD HERE FROM 1914 TO 1918 AND TO THOSE OF THEIR DEAD WHO HAVE NO KNOWN GRAVE

The Menin Gate (Garden Side), Ypres, Belgium

The Menin Gate (Garden Side), Ypres, Belgium

Sint Jacobskerk from Menenpoort

The Church of St. James From The Menin Gate, Ypres, Belgium

Underneath The Menin Gate, Ypres, Belgium

Underneath The Menin Gate, Ypres, Belgium

AD MAJOREM DEI GLORIAM

HERE ARE RECORDED NAMES OF OFFICERS AND MEN WHO FELL IN YPRES SALIENT BUT TO WHOM THE FORTUNE OF WAR DENIED THE KNOWN AND HONOURED BURIAL GIVEN TO THEIR COMRADES IN DEATH

Wilfred Suanders Wolverson, Panel 20, Menin Gate, Ypres, Belgium

Wolverson W. S., Panel 20, Menin Gate, Ypres, Belgium

Menin Gate Memorial, Panel 20: the name, Wolverson W. S.

Sanctuary Wood Museum – Hill 62, Belgium
Trenches at Hill 62 Sanctuary Wood Museum, Belgium

Hill 62 Sanctuary Wood Museum, Belgium

Stereo Images at Hill 62 Sanctuary Wood

My Young Son Viewing Stereoscopic Images of the First World War

First World War Shells | Hill 62, Sanctuary Wood Museum, Belgium

First World War Shells | Hill 62, Sanctuary Wood Museum, Belgium

The Spanbroekmolen Mine Crater (Pool of Peace), Belgium
The Pool of Peace, Belgium

The Spanbroekmolen Mine Crater, Belgium

In Search Of Caleb Wolverson, Thiepval Memorial, France

Travel Itinerary: Canadian National Vimy Memorial | Hawthorn Mine Crater | Newfoundland Memorial Park | Thiepval Memorial | Lochnagar Mine Crater

Canadian National Vimy Memorial, France

Our furthest drive of the holiday. But arriving at Vimy ridge, you can’t help but be overwhelmed by the beauty, elegance and shear size of this monument. It truly is a work of art and difficult, I would think, to come away with poor photographs.

Canadian National Vimy Memorial, France

Canadian National Vimy Memorial, France

Canadian National Vimy Memorial, France

Canadian National Vimy Memorial, France

Canadian National Vimy Memorial, France

Canadian National Vimy Memorial, France

Canadian National Vimy Memorial, France

Canadian National Vimy Memorial, France

Canadian National Vimy Memorial, France

Canadian National Vimy Memorial, France

Canadian National Vimy Memorial, France

Canadian National Vimy Memorial, France

Hawthorn Mine Crater / Hawthorn Ridge Redoubt, France

The British cinematographer, Geoffrey Malins, filmed  the detonation of the Hawthorn Ridge Mine at 7:20 hrs on the morning of 1st July 1916.  I wanted to find his approximate filming location and capture my own image of the ridge; the mine crater now shrouded with trees.

Estimating the focal length of the lens he used, the terrain and the position of British trenches (now chalk-filled)  I reckon that this was somewhere very close to Geoffrey Malin’s filming position.

Hawthorn Ridge 2013

Hawthorn Ridge, August 2013

Hawthorn Ridge Mine Explosion Montage

Hawthorn Ridge Mine Explosion and My Photograph Taken August 2013

Recommended reading: A translated German account of the fighting that took place on 1st July 1916, following the detonation of this mine.

Newfoundland Memorial Park, France
Caribou: Newfoundland Memorial Park, France

Caribou: Newfoundland Memorial Park, France

The Danger Tree: Newfoundland Memorial Park, France

The Danger Tree: Newfoundland Memorial Park, France

Y Ravine Cemetery: Newfoundland Memorial Park, France

Y Ravine Cemetery: Newfoundland Memorial Park, France

51st Division Cross: Newfoundland Memorial Park, France

51st Division Cross: Newfoundland Memorial Park, France

51st Division Memorial: Newfoundland Memorial Park, France

51st Division Memorial: Newfoundland Memorial Park, France

Thiepval Memorial, France

The Thiepval memorial was being prepared for the First World War  Centenary when we visited. It was undergoing chemical cleaning and receiving a thorough facelift, which made photography of the plaques and memorial itself, quite difficult.

Thiepval Memorial, France

Thiepval Memorial, France

Thiepval Memorial, France

Thiepval Memorial, France

Thiepval Memorial, France

Thiepval Memorial, France

Caleb Wolverson - Thiepval Memorial, France

Caleb Wolverson – Thiepval Memorial, France

And this is why my journey started and where it came to an end. Back in the seventies, my father discovered Caleb Wolverson’s name on the Thiepval Memorial, pier and face 7B.

The Lochnagar Mine Crater, La Boisselle, France
La Grande Mine

The Lochnagar Mine crater, La Boiselle, France

Lochnagar Mine Crater Memorial Cross, La Boiselle, France

Lochnagar Mine Crater Memorial Cross, La Boiselle, France

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.

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