Alvie Churchyard

Still in the Highlands, there’s a small churchyard, somewhat off the beaten track, but with beautiful views over Loch Alvie, that requires a visit.

Yet another burial ground in the middle of nowhere where the Great War will doubtless make its presence felt.  And speaking of nowhere, it seems to me that there really is nowhere you can visit in Great Britain where the tentacles of war do not spread; even the thankful villages* are defined by the fact that they suffered no casualties during the Great War.

*one of which, actually a double thankful village, losing no men in either World War, is, with great irony, the Gloucester village of Upper Slaughter.

Be that as it may, for us it’s down this track (nice sign, nice bins, nice car – more irony) and let’s hope we find the church at the end of it,…

…which indeed we do, the road petering out at this point anyway,…

…the view to our right stunning, as you’ll see properly later.  The gate you can just see on the left of the track leads to the lower, newer, section of the churchyard, where we shall pay a brief visit later,…

…but first, it’s up the slope,…

…to the main entrance, complete with CWGC sign.  Good.  One permanent legacy of the recent Great War centenary has been a proliferation of CWGC signs appearing on churchyard and cemetery gates, a fantastic effort, in my opinion.

Trooper Reat was with the 2nd Lovat’s Scouts, tasked with home defence, and his date of death is 1915.  I checked.

Private Robertson, 1st Garrison Battalion, Royal Scots. The battalion had spent most of the war overseas, first in Mudros in late 1915, then Egypt throughout 1916, and from April 1917 on Cyprus.

Unfortunately, I failed to spot, with due deference to the men buried here, perhaps the most interesting of the military graves in the churchyard.  The wheel cross just above the inset photograph is the grave of Worker Jessie Grant, Queen Mary’s Army Auxiliary Corps, who died in the Royal Infirmary in Aberdeen on 13th July 1918, aged 25.  The headstone in the centre…

…is inscribed with the names of two Taylors,…

…and I reckon it is pretty unusual – correct me if I’m wrong – to find two brothers, both Great War casualties, buried here in Blighty beneath a single headstone.  ‘Sown in dishonour, raised in glory, sown in weakness, raised in power, sown a natural body, raised a spiritual body’.  Not so sure that ‘sown in dishonour’ on its own really works……

Reverse of these Scottish Highland CWGC headstones, somewhat different from those on the Western Front, or, by and large, in England.

Unfortunately for us, God’s door was locked, so instead…

…here’s an inset showing the little whitewashed church from across the loch,…

…somewhere over there.

I suspect that once upon a time this was a beautifully ornate tomb,…

…and this was once a cross.

A quick look around the lower section of the churchyard before we leave,…

…where, although the burials are in general more recent,…

…one in particular caught my eye.  Private Charles Asher, Cameron Highlanders, was 33 when he died of wounds on 25th July 1918.  Originally buried, along with a handful of other British soldiers, in the American Plot in Sery-Magneval French Military Cemetery, just twenty five miles north east of the outskirts of Paris, all were subsequently reinterred a few miles away in the French National Cemetery at Verberie on the River Oise after the war.  His wife Jessie died in 1990 at the age of 100.

Verberie French National Cemetery contains over 70 British casualties, 52 of whom are identified, all having been brought in from a number of nearby burial grounds post-war.  It is an interesting place in that 22 of these are burials from 1918,  and yet the remaining thirty all date from 1st September 1914, some of these being special memorials to men killed at nearby Néry – ‘The Affair at Néry’, as it is known – in which three V.C.s were won.  The above form – note the Imperial War Graves Commission heading – also has a nice early reference to the Duhallow Blocks that we come across so often on our travels, and whose origin is explained here, showing that they were referred to as such from a very early stage.

On the top of the hill in the centre,…

…the Duke of Gordon’s Monument – not his only memorial, there being a far better known one, by all accounts, topped with a statue of the Duke himself, at Lady Hill, near Elgin – erected in 1840 to the memory of the fifth and final Duke,…

…who had died childless in 1836, rendering the title extinct (and it’s goodbye to the Earldom of Norwich, too).

Another view to die for.

This entry was posted in Highlands, Scotland, U.K. Churches, Memorials & Cemeteries - Back in Blighty. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Alvie Churchyard

  1. Steven Hearnden says:

    MF, if you e-mail me direct, I will forward the photos of the VC war grave of Donald Dean in my local church.

  2. Nick kilner says:

    Stunning location. There are certainly worse places to end up.
    And I agree entire, ‘raised in dishonour’ was an unfortunate choice. Given that the IWGC restricted the number of letters that family could add to the headstone, it’s likely they couldn’t quite add enough of the rest to complete the line. Perhaps they felt that because they knew it didn’t matter that they couldn’t add the rest. In hindsight they might have wished they’d considered other options. It’s also not beyond the realms of possibility that they put the entire first line and because it was over the limit the IWGC edited it. Interesting.

    • Magicfingers says:

      Yeah, I wonder. Or maybe they assumed, perhaps being a highly religious comunity, that everyone would know the whole quote. Nice place though.

  3. Morag Sutherland says:

    Excellent post. A couple of wee things. LOCH not lake…….and the situation of many of these war memorials reflects the movement of population. . They are often erected in areas of farming/crofting where many had lived early 20th century. war deaths and changing economic conditions meant migration within Scotland or emigration for work. So now memorials are found where few live. The Cabriach (sp?) Near Forres/Rothes is an example of huge loss of fighting men and now miles of emptiness

    • Magicfingers says:

      The brain said loch, the fingers typed lake…….
      Yes, excellent point about changing economic conditions and internal migration.

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