Photo-a-Day (Sunday, 14th November, 2021)
Poppy Appeal Post Box
(Apologies this photo didn't appear earlier, Brian).
Photo: Mick Byrne (Panasonic DMC-TZ100)
No need to apologise , Brian. It is Remembrance Sunday and this photo is very appropriate. As I said on the 11th, you at admin can't post photos with poppies on if there haven't been any submitted. That is really lovely. A lot of work and thought has gone into that and everyone is remembered, soldiers, sailors, nurses and also the animals who served. Thankyou to all involved.
The figures are lovingly created and very clever and nice to see in various places up and down.
Personally I like to see the Cenotaph decorated with poppies - and that's where I'm about to go.
Just realised I'd misunderstood the comment underneath the photo. It is Mick apologising to Brian for the poppy photo not appearing earlier....I thought it was Brian apologising to P-a-D viewers....sorry, my mistake, Mick and Brian!
I think the NHS bench that was on the PADs yesterday would have been better to be dedicated to 100 years of Poppy Days than jumping on the NHS bandwagon.
Well done Mick and anyone involved in making this.
I am a very good knitter but I'm not sure I could produce anything to this standard.
Congratulations to all .
Hi all, just to clarify, it was my apology. Should have added this earlier but I got the photos in the wrong order.
The past as gone.
The future is yet to come.
Only NOW is real.
The sight of all the hypocritical politicians lining up at the Cenotaph is pretty nauseating.
That's why I prefer our own Cenotaphs - in every village and town it's much more personal and genuine Dt.
This is an article I did a few years Deadman's Penny.
By Tom Walsh .
As the 100th anniversary of the end WW1 approached I again began to think about Wigan's involvement in the war, and decided to revisit some work that I did at the start 4 years ago and it seems as relevant today as it did then so I decided to update and share it .
The Great War, the war to end all wars(oh if that it were true ), as it was always referred to until the carnage wreaked on humanity starting 21 years later, from then it became known as WW1. Please God we never see a 3 added to the prefix WW.
My mind wondered back to my school days at St Patricks School and being told about Thomas Woodcock V.C. a hero of the First World War, a former pupil of the school and how after a Civic Reception at Wigan Town Hall where he was the guest of honour and another reception at our school, that very night, 17th March 1918, he left Wigan to return to the front ,never to return , he had cheated death once but wasn't to be so fortunate a second time. He was killed in action on the 27th March1918, only months before the armistice ,his bravery was further underlined by the fact that as a recipient of The Victoria Cross, he was excused front line action, but he insisted on rejoining his comrades. Considering his experience, his instance on returning to rejoin battle was surly as brave as his epic exploits on the battlefield, by this commitment surly another medal for bravery was deserved.
On the 13th September 1917 north of Broenbeek, Belgium, when an advanced post had held out for 96 hours and was finally forced to retire. Private Woodcock covered the retreat. Private Woodcock heard cries for help behind him - he returned and waded into the stream amid a shower of bombs and rescued another member of the party the latter he then carried across open ground in daylight towards our front line, regardless of machine-gun fire.
In preparing this article I had the great pleasure of again having meetings Mrs. Veronica Ashton, Granddaughter of this outstanding warrior. She was able to give me an insight of the pride his family still have a century after his sacrifice, she allowed me to view her albums and a picture that has pride of place in her home. She recalls clearly his medals being displayed in a glass case in her grandmother's home in Cambridge Street. Mrs. Ashton , has visited her Grandfather's grave along with her children, she tells me of the overwhelming feeling of pride mixed with sorrow, tears are only just held back. Veronica is a kind person, of steely determination ,it is clear that Thomas Woodcock's traits have been passed down the generations. As she is proud of him, I'm sure
he in turn would be equally proud of her.
Veronica is overwhelmed by the news that her Granddads V.C. And other medals are 'coming home ' to Wigan albeit for a limited period and will be on display at The Museum of Wigan Life for two months.
The Irish Guards are the custodians of the decorations and have kindly allowed them to be returned to coincide with the hundredth anniversary of his death and the end of WW1. Maureen Obern from Wigan Council must be given credit for organising the event . It is a great sadness that medals are not housed permanently in Thomas Woodcocks own town but I know it's a great comfort to his family to know they in safe keeping with his 'army family' and not in the hands of a private collector .
There are memorials to this brave soldier in both St Patricks Church and School.
His Victoria Cross is normally on exhibition The Guards Museum, Wellington Barracks ,Birdcage Walk , London. I had intended to visit the capital some time this anniversary year to pay my respects but now I can view it in his home town which will be more far poignant and I'm sure many from Wigan and further afield will take this once in a lifetime opportunity to salute a great
My only real memory regarding WW1 was of seeing a large coin type ornament on the sideboard of a neighbour, in McCormick Street, Mrs Kelly who had lost a son in 'The Great War,' as she always described it, and asking her about it, she explained that it was given to families of servicemen who died in that war and that it was called 'The Deadman's Penny'.
I remember saying in a childlike way "a penny isn't much for a life" I can still remember her reply " Ee love it's not but it's all I've got of him, and it's worth it's weight in gold to me".
At such a young age I couldn't fully comprehend what she meant or understand her great sorrow which never truly healed. Mrs Kelly died in The family home 34 McCormick Street in1951, still a broken woman. The suffering of WW1 wasn't only on the battlefields of Flanders and Passendale but in the hearths, hearts and homes of the Mothers and Fathers who would never see their sons again, not even left with a grave to tend. I think I half realised, even for one so young , that part of Mrs Kelly died on that fatal day in 1918.
As the centenary of the end of that war is
remembered my mind went back to Mrs Kelly and the so called 'Deadman's Penny' and I resolved to find out more about her son .The following article is what I was able to ascertain with help of the records from Wigan's , Museum of Wigan Life where the archive on the WW1 is truly amazing, thanks is due to all who worked on its compilation. Below the verbatim report.
WIGAN OBSERVER, 2nd November 1918.
NINETEEN AND FOUR YEARS SERVICE.
Mrs Kelly of. 34 McCormick Street Wigan has received news that her son Pte.John Kelly,Royal Irish Fusiliers Lewis Gun Corps, has been killed in action. Pte. Kelly who was nineteen years old and single enlisted in November 1914 and was last employed as a drawer at the Maypole Collieries . A comrade-in-arms , writing to the bereaved mother, tell her that her son was very well liked by all the boys in the platoon.
John Kelly was born on the 4th of June 1899 so he was only fifteen years six months when he
volunteered. (conscription was only introduced in 1916) Hence he must have exaggerated his age to enlist , I don't think many questions were asked if those days ! The tragedy is compounded by the nearness of the ceasefire, had that taken place a week or so earlier John Kelly would have returned to Wigan a war hero, and Mrs Kelly would have been spared thirty three years of heartache. If a week is along time in politics ,it must be an eternity in war !
I was only six years old when Mrs Kelly died ,and I have often wondered what happened to 'The Penny' ,
I hope it didn't go in a house clearance and sold in a secondhand shop for a few coppers ,a mans life surely deserves better than that ! Had I been older when Mrs Kelly died I would have suggested that it was placed in her coffin. Mother and son together forever. What ever its fate I'm sure Mrs Kelly would be proud to see her son remembered in the pages of The Wigan Observers a hundred years after his death.
This is a poem I wrote some time after the article-
John Kelly , who was he ? a man who gave his life for you and me , a man who left his home and friends to fight for freedom to fight the foe.
A life snuffed out before its time in the carnage of that horrendous war. Did he think of his Mother on that fateful day ? did he ponder days of yore?
Did his life before him flash ? did he have time to make his peace with God ? Did he think of a sweetheart, as life blood ebbed away, of children now denied ?
Did he wonder if his body would lie with the glorious dead in a fields wheat and corn, of poppies red and lilies white ? or was his shroud to be the earth and clay.
Did he shed a tear for times that might have been, of growing old with kith and kin? Could he have known in decades hence, a poet would ask ' John Kelly , who was he ?'
Lovely words Tom, I didn't know about the 'Deadman's Penny' until I had read your story before. Very sad as well to read about all those sons and husband's and Sweethearts of that time. Nearly every family lost someone as mine did.
Well done to whoever made this pillar box beret and thanks for including a horse and what looks to be a dog, so many service animals killed in wars are so often overlooked, alongside the red poppy I wear in remembrance of personnel I also wear a purple poppy in remembrance of animals.
On Dickinson's Real Deal a few folk have brought along those death pennies, and they went away with a lot of money from off the dealers. Sad when you think of the life of someone lost for one of those, and then sold 100 years later without a care of the persons who are named on it.
Always a poignant time - judging from past posts on PAD I guess that many of us were born shortly after the end of WW2 and would have close relatives and family friends who had served, and gave their lives so heroically for our freedoms.
Thanks Mick - a lovely photo.
Well said, Cyril. To you and all my p-a-d friends, google "Dad's Medals by Cliff Gerrard". Irene. xx
Tom - just a couple of points...: Thomas Woodcock was also commemorated on what must be one of the country's largest War Memorials - Woodcock House. There's a plaque to him in the entrance lobby - and a more recent commemoration beside the entrance to the block - as well as his VC centenary plaque on the steps leading down to Darlington Street East.
Although the account of Private Kelly's death was only reported in November 1918, he was actually killed some weeks earlier - on August 24th.
Thank you Irene for the Google comment, the poem was very emotional,and I think it resonate's with a lot of people.xx
I can just see Poppy days in the future being took over by all sorts of Chinese novelty flashing garden Poppies the way we are going on with the pillar box beret and these waterfalls of Poppies that are now on sale
I hadn't seen that poem before Irene, very poignant, thanks for sharing.
Sadly some service personnel are now having to sell their medals to help with the financial problems they now find they're in. The gallantry medals especially, which can bring about bidding fevers at auctions. The medal collection of the soldier below finally went for £140.000.