Saturday, March 3, 2012

Godalming War Memorial

Henry Oliver, son of Henry & Sarah Oliver, father of Reginald Oliver, was my Great Grandfather on my father’s side. The only thing I really knew about him was his name. My Grandfather didn’t really know his father as he was but 2 years old when his father became a casualty of World War 1. What he did know was that his father created an instrument using a bicycle pump and was featured in a Daily Mirror newspaper along with photo.

He also knew that his father died during WW1, so, after some research I found that he died in France & Flanders on July 30, 1918. With the help of a kind researcher in England, I was directed to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) web site. They had a wealth of information pertaining to memorials constructed to honor those that served in the British
Military and lost their lives in both world wars. I came across a memorial in Godalming that
honors those lost from their town.
This memorial was erected between St. Peter & St. Paul Parish Church yard and a park, dedicated in 1920. Inside the parish is a plaque showing the names lost in WW1. After enlarging the image I was able to find my Great Grandfather’s name.
Also on the CWGC site I was able to do a search of my Great Grandfather’s name and discovered the cemetery he rests at along with a photo. Even though I never met my Henry Oliver, somehow knowing he is resting in such a beautiful place assures me he is resting peacefully.

While visiting my parents a few weeks ago we were looking through some old family heirlooms and came across an envelope labeled “From Dad’s Desk.” To my heart’s delight, we discovered the last belongings Henry owned.
1) A soldier’s bible with handwritten notes on the front and back pages. From what we can make out, these notes say:
Page 1: 7 Town End St, Godalming Surrey. Henry Oliver, from his loving wife, Norah, May 23, 1917. All things work together for good to them that love God.
Page 2: R Oliver, 7 Town End St, Godalming Surrey, 29-5-27

Back Page: Looking at life from dark side ____ cherish looking ____ from _____ _____ _____ _____. (Unable to read some of the words)
2) Two war medals and a hat pin: a) War Service medal 1914-1920: The obverse bears the uncrowned head of George V and the legend “GEORGIVIS V BRITT: OMN: REX ET IND: IMP:” The reverse has St. George on horseback facing right below a rising sun with the horse trampling on a shield representing death with the year ‘1914’ on the left and ‘1918’ on the right. The suspender is a straight economy non-swiveling type riveted to the medal. The ribbon: 1.25” wide with a broad central orange stripe and working outwards are narrower white, black and blue stripes on each edge. It is said that the orange represents the mud of the Western Front, the white for peace, the black for death and the blue for the rain.
b) Victory Medal 1914-19: The obverse of this bronze medal bears the winged figure of Victory holding a palm branch in her right hand with her left extended. The reverse has the inscription ‘THE GREAT WAR FOR CIVILIZATION 1914-19’ surrounded with a laurel wreath. The ribbon is attached via a ring which passes through a small loop sweated to the top of the medal. The ribbon is rainbow colored measuring 1.55” wide reading from the center outwards red, orange, yellow,
green, blue and violet.
c) A hat pin that says 'The Suffolk Reg'.
3) The Memorial Plaque: In 1916 it was decided that some form of memorial would be established for presentation to the next of kin of those that died during the war. A government
committee was established to decide the nature of this memorial, and in August 1917 it was determined that it would take the form of a bronze plaque with the name of the lost. Buckingham Palace sent a letter with the plaque to the last of kin: I join with my grateful people in sending you this memorial of a brave life given for others in the Great War” George R.I.

4) A photo of, what we believe to be, Henry Oliver and his military band.

1 comment:

  1. I apologize for the formating on this post, everything was in order on the preview screen before post was clicked. Still learning, please bare with me. Thank you.