Sunday, 8 November 2015

Today on Remembrance Sunday a guided tour of Southern Cemetery

Southern Cemetery, October 2015
Now I am hoping the weather will be fine on Sunday and we get the last of that gentle autumnal sunshine.

And if we do it will the perfect setting for the annual guided walk through the cemetery on Remembrance Day.*

The event is run by Emma Fox who is a Manchester Green Badge Tour Guide and she will be accompanied by David Harrop who maintains a permanent exhibition of memorabilia from both world wars at the Remembrance Lodge in the cemetery.**

David’s collection is quite unique featuring many of the everyday objects which tend to get lost or discarded and includes letters, medals and souvenirs along with official documents and memorials made by grieving parents.

And what makes it particularly relevant to the walk is that many of the items have a connection with men and women who are buried or commemorated in the cemetery.

Private William Edwards 2015
Men like Private William Ernest Edwards of Chorlton on Medlock who died in the Princess Street Hospital and is buried in the cemetery.

David acquired Private Edward’s British War Medal and I am hoping it will be one of the items he brings on the walk.

Also in David’s collection are the papers and effects of George Davison who was born in Manchester and died on the Western Front in June 1918.

And I want to finish with one of his letters sent home to his wife Nellie in the November of 1915.

At the time he had just arrived back in Ireland with the 29th Reserve battery of the Royal Field Artillery from a short spell in Woolwich.

The letter is short and dwells on the routines of army life including his torturous journey back to Ireland and refers to Nellie’s letter “of yesterday which reached me exactly 1 day after the parcel you sent to Woolwich.

Letter from George Davison, November 1915
It had evidently been following me for about 10 days owing to the number of different Barracks to which I had been moved.”

All of which is a perfect reminder that wars and the great events of wars are about ordinary people who one poet described as “the little people caught up in a big century.”

So even if the rain doesn’t hold off and the sun refuses to shine the walk will be a fascinating one.

British War Medal Private Edwards
Pictures; Southern Cemetery, October 2015, from the collection of Andrew Simpson and the picture of Private William Ernest Edward’s grave, 2015, his medal and the extract from a letter of  to Nellie Davison, November 12 1915 courtesy of David Harrop

*Sunday November 8 1pm, meet at the Remembrance Lodge Southern Cemetery.

**Emma Fox,

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