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Reader Comments (19)

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David France
1 Posted 21/08/2019 at 20:08:26
Congratulations, Peter, on an expertly researched and beautifully crafted article. As always, it's a fantastic read.
Phil (Kelsall) Roberts
2 Posted 21/08/2019 at 20:11:25
Wonderful piece.

We stay at a farmhouse on our way to our Maison Secondaire. The farmhouse is 15 minutes from Azincourt. We smile at the English translation which describes Henry's disease ridden, hungry, dispirited, wounded army wearily dragging themselves across Northern France being constantly harried by French troops. It then says until they faced the French at Azincourt... at which point the leaflet says no more. I wonder why?

Pete Jones
3 Posted 21/08/2019 at 21:34:09
David and Elizabeth, thank you for your kind words, they mean so much to me.

Likewise Phil, thanks;

"We few, we happy few, we band of brothers; for he today that sheds his blood with me shall be my brother, be he ne'er so vile; this day shall gentle his condition; and gentlemen in England now a-bed shall think themselves accursed they were not here, and hold their manhoods cheap while any speaks that fought with us on St Crispin's day".

I am envious of your stopover, I haven't been for over 25 years – the greatest away win in English history.

Steve Ferns
4 Posted 21/08/2019 at 23:07:15
An astounding article, Pete. Superb stuff.
Don Alexander
5 Posted 21/08/2019 at 00:00:03
Lovely essay, and such people should be commemorated in such times. Their fate has real significance to us in the 21st century.

I just wonder as the UK (that's "united" for now at least) is being dragged out of Europe by closed-mind muppets in the Tory/Brexit parties who display no awareness whatsoever of the wars between European nations that for many hundreds of years damaged the world in which those very warring nations all suffered, "victorious" or not.

Peter Mills
6 Posted 22/08/2019 at 09:57:14
Pete, that is a wonderful article.

I was pleased to catch the tail end of the ceremony at Wilf Toman’s grave, on the way to the Lille game.

It was an opportunity to honour that man, and another, my Grandad. He was badly wounded in World War 1, but recovered to lead a full and happy life, and to be responsible for 4 further generations of Evertonians.

Lest we forget.

Jack Convery
7 Posted 22/08/2019 at 12:39:48
Congratulations on a Wonderful article. May they all rest in peace and never, ever be forgotten.
Derek Thomas
8 Posted 23/08/2019 at 01:45:13
A fitting reminder and memorial, Pete. I was involved in Auckland local football for 17 years and never knew about Everton AFC.

Lest We Forget.

Mike Gaynes
9 Posted 23/08/2019 at 04:16:45
A brilliantly lyrical piece of work, Pete. You are a wonderful historian. Thank you for inspiring my curiosity about a corner of history about which, like most Americans, I know little.

Courtesy of your mentions, I have ordered General Jack's Diary and Old Soldiers Never Die from Amazon. I look forward to being further educated about this area.

If I may, two trivial historical addenda to your mention of Lt. Basil Rathbone (who apparently was quite the war hero). One, that same London Scottish regiment included Claude Rains and Ronald Colman. (I have no idea why or how I remember that.) And two, 50 years earlier a distant relative of Rathbone's, US Army Col. Henry Rathbone, had been sitting next to President Abraham Lincoln when he was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth, and was seriously wounded trying to prevent Booth's escape.

Roy Johnstone
10 Posted 23/08/2019 at 08:53:26
Brilliant article, Pete. You're right about the Bois Grenier sector being the Forgotten Front. My great grandad, Jimmy Gorman is buried in Y Farm cemetery. When I did some research into his death in October 1915, it was described as a minor skirmish in a subsidiary sector of the Battle of Loos. A minor skirmish costing 200 soldiers their lives that month. Incredible.

Y-Farm has an amazing array of stories beneath the graves, including H Dallas Moor VC. His VC was awarded for shooting at his own troops as they panicked and ran at the Battle of Gallipoli, forcing them back into the line. You couldn't make it up.

Pete Jones
11 Posted 23/08/2019 at 20:40:09
Thank you again for all your kind comments.

Mike (9), You've homed in on the mention of Basil; his story and those of Claude Rains and Ronald Coleman were in the original draft, together with Rathbone's co-star Nigel Bruce. The importance of the Rathbone family on Merseyside and the sheer number of WW1 veterans in Hollywood made me take it out as it was threatening to dominate the article and make it even longer. I had visions of Lyndon spending weeks formatting it. I'm going to work it up as a separate article with an admittedly tenuous Goodison connection. I'd quite forgotten about the other guest in the presidential box at Ford's Theatre however; good reminder.

Roy (10) Another large chunk that was lifted from the original is about the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and their work, and how each of Everton's dead is remembered. As you say even small cemeteries will usually have many stories, although at 837 graves Y Farm is not what you would call small. I'll be back with that one too

Roy Johnstone
12 Posted 23/08/2019 at 22:18:21
Pete, you're spot on about the CWGC and the colossal amount of work that they do. The scary thing is that although you cannot consider Y Farm as small there are so many cemeteries that are larger. As a teacher I've taken countless trips to Northern France and Belgium and its the stories and the scale of the loss on both sides that always hits the kids the most. I'm really looking forward to your future articles on this on this subject.
Bill Watson
13 Posted 24/08/2019 at 21:57:48
Peter thanks for a wonderful, excellently researched, piece of work and I can't begin to imagine how much time you put into it.

The scores of war cemeteries in this corner of Belgium and France really brings home the monstrosity of the carnage that was WW1, as does the young ages of most of the victims.

If the EEC and EU has done nothing else it has, at least, prevented a repeat.

Mike Gaynes
14 Posted 20/09/2019 at 06:53:46
Pete, I know it's been quite a while since anyone posted on this thread, but I hope you see this message.

You must... simply MUST... find and see a 2018 film called "They Shall Not Grow Old" by Peter Jackson of "Lord of the Rings" fame.

I just finished watching it on HBO in the US. It's an extraordinary oral history of WWI made up entirely of the recorded vocal remembrances of well over 100 British veterans of the war -- illustrated by colorized and computer-enhanced images of the old newsreel and movie films of the war. It puts you right in the trenches, and pulls absolutely no punches. Don't eat before you watch it.


Incidentally, I am enjoying General Jack's Diary and I thank you again for your educational efforts on this period in history.

David Pearl
15 Posted 20/09/2019 at 07:14:26
Mike, thanks for bringing attention back to this article. I missed it on my travels. I'm getting ready for TW golf day but will read it later when I'm back. Hope all is well!
Drew O'Neall
16 Posted 20/09/2019 at 07:46:22
David @ 15

Is the ToffeeWeb Golf Day a TW organised event for anyone or something organised privately by a sub-set of ToffeeWebers?

If the former, can you link to registration/details.

Thanks and good luck to participants.

Martin Nicholls
17 Posted 20/09/2019 at 08:38:47
Drew #16 - David put an article on TW about the golf day back on 20/8/19 which should still be accessible.
Mike Gaynes
18 Posted 20/09/2019 at 17:22:29
No problem, David. Keep it in the fairways.
Pete Jones
19 Posted 23/09/2019 at 18:54:58
Mike, Jackson's film was shown in the UK to mark the 100th anniversary of the Armistice on November 11th 1918. I know what you mean, it was remarkable; I think I've walked a couple of the streets shown and it was like you were there yourself. The bit of footage where the howitzer fires and the roof tiles fall off is a particular highlight. The detail was so good that you noticed just how bad the soldiers teeth were. I did find the poppies shown growing on every patch of ground a bit weird but overall it is remarkable.

Good luck with the golf guys, one of the 17 or so things I'm writing at the moment is about our best golfer and his namesake, so this is timely.


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