Outlook 17
News and Views from St. Mary's Woodbridge
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A series of coincidences
A series of coincidences Woodbridge heroes from World War I Having waited for years to go on my school’s annual Battlefields Trip, the invitation finally came. With a little knowledge of the deaths of two great great uncles (both Woodbridge residents), some more research beforehand gave me ‘name, rank and number’ and some ‘missing in action’ details, but information about only one of their memorials. The trip was to be sprinkled with coincidences. Based in Ieper (Ypres), our second visit was to the Canadian War Memorial, for those killed by the first German gas attacks from 22-24 April 1915. On commenting that this matched the death (at 25) of Lance Cpl John Howe, a History colleague told me that the attacks were the sole action in the area at the time. John, the youngest of the four sons of George Adams Howe and Jael Mahala Howe of Seckford Almshouses, was followed to war by Charlie (aged 39), also a resident of Seckford Street and the father of five children. Remembering John and Charlie Following a moving Last Post Ceremony at the Menin Gate (which commemorates 54,896 soldiers with no known grave) was the chance to search for Panel 21, the site of Private Charlie’s memorial. With bated breath, I looked for any mention of John and – just two lists away – there was his name. The position of the panel was also rather special, as it was above a frame, where wreaths and crosses are laid on a daily basis. Next day, at Thiepval, another monument to the missing, I was able to buy two small crosses, on which I wrote both men’s details (pictured). Late that evening, with a colleague and half a dozen pupils, I returned to the Menin Gate, where I was able to lay them, immediately under the names of John and Charlie, having gradually come to the realisation that I was doing so on 2 March 2013, that is exactly ninety seven years to the day since the death of Charlie. Veronica Howe Note: At our fourth Talk and Cake event (3.00 pm on Sunday 13 July in St Mary’s Church Centre) this account will be developed in an illustrated talk.