Our Heritage of Freedom
(click on photo to enlarge)
The motivation for the research and production of this booklet was the realisation that my generation, the post-war baby-boomers, and those succeeding regard the freedoms we enjoy as a human right and therefore take it for granted. We fail to appreciate that the freedoms we enjoy in this country today have been fought for over many centuries, most notably during the two world wars of the 20th century; one in which my father fought and one in which my grandfathers fought. Fortunately they all survived; but many did not. The ultimate sacrifice that those many men made are remembered with gratitude in this record.
At the Remembrance Day Memorial Service each year we read out a list of names of those who perished in the World Wars; 34 in WW1 and 22 in WW2. This publication seeks to begin to bring those names alive; to link them into their families and communities, to put flesh on the bones that the names represent. In this way it is hoped to remind us that it was real people who died and not just names. Just like us they had mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, wives, children, friends, neighbours, bosses and workmates.
We must remember that most of the people in the world do not enjoy the level of freedom as we do; we are the exception, not the norm. Neither should we look down on those people who do not benefit from a heritage of freedom as we do. If this initiative makes one person realise that our own freedom is not a right but something we must cherish, protect and not abuse then it will have succeeded.
This is very much the first attempt and I hope that in the future corrections will be made and more information will be added to this archive. If you have any information, photos of these men or their graves I will be happy to include them in subsequent editions. If you are going on holiday near one of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemeteries they are well worth a visit. If you locate and photograph the stone or plaque for one of the men mentioned here then it would be appreciated if it could be included in the next edition.
The sources of information used to compile this archive were:
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission - http://www.cwgc.org
The Public Records Office (1901 Census) - http://www.pro.gov.uk
The Elmsted Website (1881 Census - Editor D. F. J. Pott) - http://members.lycos.co.uk/elmsted/census/CHILHAM.htm
All copyrights are duly acknowledged with appreciation.
The editor would also like to thank those individuals who shared their memories with him and hopes that others will continue do so in order to make this a more complete record for future generations.
This book is published by
Kent, CT4 7DB
Title: Our Heritage of Freedom
Editor: Leonard Budd
First Edition, 2002.
© Copyright Mystole Publications
Extracts of this publication may be copied without reference to the Publisher or Editor provided that it is not for commercial purposes.
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Visit to War Memorials of Chilham Men
Although we had to scrape the ice from our car windscreens the party from Chilham Church and our friends were all on time for their 0615 departure by mini-coach from Old Wives Lees. It was dark and cold and just the morning to stay in bed but we were excited about visiting the memorials of some of the men from Chilham who died so that our generation could enjoy freedom.
As we drove off the ferry towards Arras the clear skies revealed a clear sun and the promise of a warm day. At the Arras cemetery the bright sun provided great contrasts of light and shade on the bright limestone panels. The name of Harry Beeken was in deep shade when we arrived but within half an hour it was in bright sunlight
and we were able to photograph it. The panel containing the name of Edmund Count was in permanent shade but an old French man (was he a guide?) kindly highlighted the name in pencil and this enabled us to photograph it. Whether he also did this for the names at the top of the 4m high panels we never found out. At this cemetery we saw the names of 35,000 men killed in first world war action.
After an hour driving north we were dropped by the Menin Gate at Ieper (Ypres) where we were met by Rev. Ray Jones, Anglican Chaplain of St George’s Memorial Church. In bright warm sun we found and photographed the names of George Hoare, Albert Sherwood and James Waghorn but due to an oversight we failed to find the name of Henry Fox amongst the 54,000 officers and men remembered on that gate. It is such a pity that cars and vans rumble through the middle of the gate all the time - except at 8pm every evening when Last Post is sounded by the Ieper Fire Brigade.
Ray then guided us through the town to his church which was opened in 1929 as a memorial to the 500,000 troops who passed through the town of Ypres (as it was called then) on their way to the front. Near the altar we found a plaque
commemorating the Buffs (East Kent Regiment); in the nave we found the colours of the West Kent Regiment and on the chairs we saw kneelers remembering both regiments (see left). Ray then led us in a short but respectful service of memorial and thanks. It was a relief that he was able to put into words the emotions that we were all feeling but were unable to express.
We then took the short journey to the Tyne Cot cemetery at Zonnebeke – so named by the Northumberland Regiment as a group of German blockhouses resembled cottages on Tyneside. At the ‘top’ of the cemetery the names of 35,000 men who have no known grave are carved on the limestone panels. Here we found the name of Herbert Pudney, husband of Bessie Pudney of Cromwell Cottage, Chilham and son of James and Edith Pudney, on almost the most right-hand panel. In addition to the 35,000 names carved on the panels there are also graves of nearly 12,000 British and Commonwealth soldiers who perished in the Somme, seventy percent of which bear no name.
The journey back to the ferry was quiet as a result of the sheer emotion of seeing in just one day the names and last resting-places of over 135,000 men of our grandfather’s and great-grandfather’s generations. ‘Moved’ is such an inadequate term to describe the emotions each of us felt.Their sacrifice, along with the sacrifice of men in the Second World War enable us to live in a society which allows us to enjoy a level of personal freedom unrivalled in history and equalled in only a couple of dozen other countries.
If you have any information about other Chilham men who died in combat please pass this to the Vicar or Len Budd. Further trips will be organised.
NB I will try to arrange a similar visit during the summer of 2004 probably to the same area of France/Belgium. Anyone interested should contact myself.