Archive | November, 2018

Spotlight

28 Nov

Spotlight

Hello and welcome to a new series here at Retroland. In this section I will post links to people who’s artistry deserves a wider audience. To open proceedings I’d like to introduce you to a young man who I think has a big future: Shaun Fallows.

Shaun was born with cerebral palsy and loves writing poetry. What’s that? You’re not keen on poetry? Hey kids this is no ordinary poetry so why not pop over to Shaun’s site at https://shaunfallows.weebly.com/ for more examples of his work.

13263808_10208823097151297_7772798980058143129_n

3 Albert Street Ince Wigan

13 Nov

3 Albert Street Ince Wigan

Albert Street

I live about a mile away from where my grandmother’s house stood. It’s populated by industrial units now and there’s not a trace that this was once a thriving little community with shops, pubs, churches and a post office all within touching distance. No one lives in the area now but I lived with my grandmother from time to time in that old two up, two down house. She had a “best” room that was always locked and though she thought the world of me I was never allowed in. She’d pop in, though very rarely, to bring me a children’s book that I presumed was hers when she was my age. The book was lavishly illustrated with tales of Puck the mischievous sprite and his woodland adventures. She encouraged me to read as she had done with her only son, my dad who had turned these pages before me.

My grandmother lived in that house all her life until the council compulsory purchased her home to flatten the area. She was born in that house and it was from this door that my great grandfather, her dad, left to fight in the Great War. Joseph Brown joined up with his brother Eli and he was enrolled in the Lancashire Fusiliers 2nd Battalion. Eli Brown entered the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment. They would serve and die hundreds of miles away from each other. Eli was the first to be killed he was at the notorious bloodbath of Gallipoli. He had only been there two days…

His regiment was ordered to replace another unit at the top of Chunuk Bair a fearsome place that was a nightmare to reach. They travelled at night and took their place in the shallow trenches just 4ft deep and waited for morning. This is an extract from a survivor Private Paul Gaskell;

We were all very tired that night, and we were not allowed to sleep, as we expected orders to proceed up the line at a minute’s notice. It was a great effort just to keep my eyes open. I was just dosing into a slumber when all of a sudden I heard an appealing cry of “Mother, I am dying.” It was a pitiful voice; how I lay there I do not know. Tears came to my eyes and my thoughts flew to my own darling mother, away in peaceful England.

Dawn of August the 9th broke the awful monotony of that terrible night. At 9-30 p.m the Battalion set off to relieve the New Zealanders. It was a fearfully cold moon-light night, and in order to get to our destination it was necessary to cross an exposed stretch of flat ground, namely, Salt Lake. Thankfully we got across unseen.

We were out to take that hill at all costs. I remember on the New Zealanders being relieved, one came to me and said, “You shall not be here very long, they will push you out of it” meaning that the Turks would advance. I took not the slightest notice of his remark, but afterwards I found his words to be proved. We were only 50 yards away from the enemy trenches.

At 4-30 a.m. we were suddenly attacked with a shower of bombs, as the dawn broke through the darkness. Now the enemy advanced towards our centre flank, then our left flank, every flank was heavily engaged, each one of us were firing with rapid speed. Onward swept the enemy like a foreign cyclone, calling upon the name of their god “Allah.” There must have been thousands of Turks advancing; they looked just like a dead wall, for one could not see a gap in their lines of advance. 

On our extreme right the enemy were making short work of our men with the bayonet, but they fought hard for life – they would not give in. Officers, N.C.O.’s and men were shot down by the enemy’s bloodthirsty fire. One Staff Captain about to encourage his men to advance and who had already been shot through the head, received another head wound, which blew half his head away exposing his brains; and others shared the same fate. 

Two of our machine guns were put out of action, and each one of those machine gun crews were killed. Only two men were now to be seen at the one remaining gun. This last death machine poured volley after volley of hot lead into the enemy. Thousands of rounds of ammunition were being consumed by this gun, the barrel being red-hot. With his eye trained on his sights, the Commander of the gun, a boy of no more than 17 years of age, still kept up the terrible fire, in spite of dangers which he exposed himself to, for his head was well above the parapet. His chum shortly afterwards fell a victim of the enemy, being seriously wounded in the face.

This incident and the loss of his chum seemed to give this boy a greater spirit of defiance, for he kept calling upon the enemy to come nearer. It was not long afterwards that he was wounded in the left elbow joint by a bullet which splintered the bone. He was in much pain. His arm lay dead at his side, blood oozed out of his arm in large quantities, but our friend never neglected to watch his sights. An N.C.O. eventually ordered this plucky boy to go to the dressing station. The boy, knowing that no man in our trench could handle his gun, refused to comply with the N.C.O.’s orders, saying, “There is nobody to take my place, I shall keep her going until I am out of action altogether.”

This piece of pluck was the best of its kind that ever I witnessed. Those words of that gallant little soldier I shall ever remember. Surely this was a deed worthy of the highest distinction, but there were no officers about to recognise it. Comrades were falling dead each side of me. The dead bodies of our men on top of the parapet, who had been there for quite a length of time gave off a very unpleasant stench.

Private Paul Gaskell

Thank you to Paul McCormick for this excerpt from the excellent site http://www.loyalregiment.com/my-experiences-in-gallipoli/

3RD-PANEL

 

Private Eli Brown from faraway Wigan died on this truly terrible day 9th of August 1915

His brother Joseph Brown fought in France and made the rank of Lt. Corporal. He was killed on the 19th of February 1916 at Flanders after being sent on a night time scouting mission with another soldier to plot the whereabouts of a German machine gun nest.

My grandfather Joseph Topping served in the army all his life and was a gunner in the 2nd World War. He travelled the world fighting in Africa, Germany and Italy and made it home safely to Wigan.

My Dad Joseph Topping joined the Territorial Army when he was 18 and served in Malaya in the 1950’s. Records show he was 5ft 6in and 9st 4lb when he was sent abroad to serve his country. He also returned home to Wigan.

Four men, each one connected, travelled abroad for the only time in their lives to fight for their country. I am immensely proud of what they and millions of others did for me and you and I truly hope that generations to come remember them and never have to face the horrors that they did.

Tony Topping 11/11/2018