Friday 24 December 2010

Sgt Boardman and The Red Baron

This entry is really what the Blog is all about. I have had an article on my site for a number of years about those civilians who died in the Second World War as a result of German bombing in the Pitsmoor district of Sheffield. It was heavily bombed the night of Dec 12-13th 1940, and the casualities and damage were some of  the worst the city experienced

A few of the descendents of those killed that night have contacted me, and one in particular had a unusual twist to it. The first mail I received was from Neil in Ontario Canada last month - November 2010

"Hi , my name is  Neil Noble and the Neales were my grandparents. My mother Dorothy Edna Neale was born Aug 27 1937, she told me was sick and was not allowed near her younger brother Tony ,and was at her Aunts on the night of Dec 12 1940. Eventually she was adopted by her aunt who she assumed was her  mum until they told her differently when she was 16. Her dads family wanted her and her mothers sister adopted her.  Caused all kinds of problems !! Anyway she lost her mum , dad, brother and her granma's family all in a short space of time. She decided to name me Neil to remember the family name , all be it slightly different"

In subsequent mails I answered the best I could some questions Neil had raised regarding the Sheffield Blitz,during which he disclosed that he and his family had emigrated to Canada from Manchester in the mid seventies.

Then last week I received a mail from Neil's brother Derek who asked me for help in tracing the descendents of  a Sgt Boardman

Back in 1976 when I was 14 my family emigrated from Manchester England to Canada. I was only allowed to bring what I could get into my one suit case. I had to down size! I had a bomb sight from a Lancaster bomber that was fairly big. I swapped this to a friend (Colin Boardman) from school (Littlemoss Boys Secondary) that had also gotten me interested in the Air Cadets (430 Sqd. Droylsden ) for an artillery case. Not just any old one but one that was engraved by his granddad. Engraved by a bayonet “Sgt Boardman
Somme 1916” and it has a brass R.A.C button soldered to the front of it. > (The R.A.F. prior to 1918 were the R.A.C.) 

Now the story I was told by Colin and his brother Kevin was that their granddad had been shot down by “ The Red Barron” after which he made it to the allied trenches. Here he made this piece of trench art with a button from his ruined uniform and an artillary case he got from the French who were in the trenches.
I have been trying to find the family to give this back too. Any ideas? "  

A second mail had corrections - "The button has no letters on it just a crown with a bird flying below it. After trying to find the Boardmans for several years I decided that maybe I could find them by tacking their granddad, Sgt. Boardman, It was my mistake calling the button a "R.A.C" button. I did mean R.F.C. Other markings on the Case 37-85 P.D.P.s 85 1.17 and what looks like a little bomb."

Any way I placed the information Derek provided on the excellent Great War Forum and to date I've had two responses!
which sort of confirm my initial reservations about young Colin Boardman's story.

Any further information would be welcome

Friday 17 December 2010

885,138 to 1

The only person I can find in the Commonwealth War Graves Commission database with the same initials and surname as myself is the following soldier

In Memory of
1st Bn., Hampshire Regiment
who died on
Monday, 4th November 1918. Age 28.
Additional Information:
Son of William and Anne Hobbs, of 43, Mays St., Buckland, Portsmouth.
Commemorative Information
Grave Reference/Panel No

II. A. 26.

I know nothing about him or the circumstances of his death but have reflected on the fact that he died just seven days before the war ended. I wonder what life he would have had if he had survived?

Wednesday 15 December 2010

Only a Pauper

A few years ago I posted on my website, an article on the"revolting proceedings in a Sheffield Burial Ground"

After reflecting on the previous post - wooden crosses in Burngreave Cemtery - I remembered that I had an article that appeared in the newspaper at the same time as the report on the "revolting proceedings". Dated the 23rd April 1865 it was reported in Lloyds Weekly News and concerned the death from pneumonia of a MARY HILL in Somerset.

I did not place it on my site as there was no "Sheffield Connection" but I doubt if I would have anyway - it is instructive in the way that the poor were treated in the C19th by the "authorities", a treatment that seems to have lasted well into the C20th. I should warn you the article is quite gruesome in its description of Mary Hill's body

    A more disgusting spectacle would be hard to imagine!!

Thursday 9 December 2010

Wooden Crosses - Burngreave Cemetery

I came across the following report in The Guardian dated 23rd October 1930. Sheffield suffered greatly in the aftermath of the Great War as it was called then, The "land fit for heroes" never materialized and Sheffield spent most of the inter-war period battling high levels of unemployment, starvation wages and poverty in the true sense of the word. It is only by putting aside coppers over the years in "burial clubs" that poor people could even manage to get buried. The stigma of a paupers grave was still prevalent then as it is now.

The authorities at the Cemetery obviously saw the installation of wooden crosses by poor people as being prejudicial to the general interests of the cemetery and took corrective action by refusing to allow the practice to continue. I am hazarding a guess that the "authorities" are revealing class prejudices in their actions, but hounding the poor after their death is taking it a bit too far,

Tuesday 7 December 2010

"There won't be mail in Crookes this Xmas..."

Posting letters at Xmas - we should be so lucky!

I just realised last night that we have not received a mail delivery for over a week. In fact we have not seen a postman anywhere on the Hill. Whilst I acknowledge that conditions were a little grim towards the end of  last week, it is now six days since we last had significant snowfall but still no sign of the Royal Mail, or any explanation of what the current situation is. It is though they have packed up their mailbags and gone home .

Given that the Royal Mail is a UK monopoly for standard mail there is nothing I can do about it. As I understand it Royal Mail is technically still owned by the government, (it owns 100% of the shares) but it has "devolved" the day to day running of the company to its management. What is apparent is that under this arrangement the postal service has deteriorated markedly in the last few years and the "owners" of the business i.e. the government, are not showing any concern whatsoever.

In fact the ill-fated Labour governments headed by Blair and Brown were instrumental in ensuring that the UK postal service ceased to be a public service and became just another business where the "chosen few" can make a few bob when it is eventually privatised. Public service is no longer an option