To mark 100 years since the end of the Great War, the Friends of the Wembdon Road Cemetery are seeking to repair the last four memorials that remember fallen soldiers. There are a total of 56 memorials that remember First World War Servicemen. Of these memorials, 28 are of men buried in the cemetery, which are maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. A further 28 family memorials remember Bridgwater men buried on the battlefields where they were killed.
To have these four memorials properly and professionally repaired will cost a total of £1008. The Old Morgonians have very kindly offered part of this total, as have a small number of private individuals. But we still have a long way to go, and all donations are very gratefully received.
The four memorials we are looking to repair include:
Frank Helps 1894-1915
Frank lived on Durleigh Road, attended Dr Morgan's School (now Haygrove) and trained as a draper. He enlisted in the signals corps in August 1915 and quickly rose through the ranks to become second lieutenant. Frank was killed on 23 July 1915, while on outpost duty. This was less than a year after he enlisted. He was 21 years old.
The Helps memorial is a large tombstone, toppled and cracked apart. We want to level the ground, repair the stone, and set it on a firm foundation, so that it'll stand for at least another hundred years.
Arthur Oswald Major (1875-1917)
Arthur was the son of a brick and tile manufacturer. His family home was on Durleigh Road, across the road from the Horse and Jockey. He also attended Dr Morgan's and then joined his father's firm. He was killed in 1917 during the Battle for Jerusalem in November 1917. On 21st November the Wiltshire Regiment and the Somerset Light Infantry were ordered to attack and capture the fortified villages of El Jib and Bir Nebala. On 22nd November, they moved forward with a squadron of cavalry, the Somersets at the front of the attack under the command of Captain Major. The following morning they attacked El Jib, and immediately came under severe shrapnel and high explosive fire. The Somersets nevertheless moved forward under intense machine gun fire. Captain Oswald Major, who went forward with his company, was first wounded and then killed outright by shellfire. Small groups of his men reached the village, but all perished. His battalion lost 69 killed and over 400 wounded in the unsuccessful attack. Arthur was 42 when he died.
The Major memorial is a large toppled cross. We want to level the ground below it and re-set the cross on a stable foundation.
Pursey Frederick Short (1894-1915)
Pursey was named after his mother's maiden name. He grew up in Taunton and worked as a cardboard box maker. He moved to Bridgwater to live with his aunt and was a scoutmaster in his spare time. Pursey served in the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve and was killed aboard the French steamship, the S.S. Maine, where he was an interpreter. Pursey died when the ship was torpedoed and sunk by German U Boat 56 in English Channel on 28 November 1917. There was only one survivor from the entire crew.
Like the Helps memorial, the Short memorial has been toppled and smashed into two pieces. We want to put it back together and stand it right again.
Richard Kenneth Shrimpton (1883-1917)
Richard grew up in Bridgwater, North Street, attended Dr Morgans, before moving to London to train as a draftsman. He emigrated to South Africa and then Australia in 1911. In 1915 he enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force. He was fatally wounded in June 1917 while serving in the trenches , during the Battle of Messines, dying soon afterwards.
The Shrimpton memorial is a cross on a three-tiered base, which has been dismantled and the cross broken. We want to repair the cross and reassemble the base for it to stand upon.