And here it is. Carrbridge Cemetery. And look! Another one.
By which I mean another CWGC sign adorning a pair of cemetery gates, about which I waxed lyrical recently,…
…within which a small, neatly enclosed, cemetery awaits.
Private James John Grant, Seaforth Highlanders, killed at St. Valery on 15th June 1940 aged 24. I mention him specifically because many of the men of the 51st Highland Division captured at St. Valery ended up at Stalag XX-A – the POW camp at Thorn in Poland mentioned near the end of the recent Grantown-on-Spey New Burial Ground post.
Oh dear. Not military related, I don’t think, but losing both eldest son and wife within six days, while the rest of the country is about to erupt in celebration as the final ten days of war are played out, is more than unfortunate.
Now this time, I shan’t be looking Alistair up. No. No way. Because you know what will happen if I do. I shall uncover another can of worms, because that is all there ever is.
And now I’m going to have to, aren’t I? Look him up, I mean. All right, here goes. This one’ll be a breeze. What do we know? Alistair Fisher, son of Philip and Mary (née Watt), killed on 1st July 1916 on the Somme, aged 22.
I told you! 127 Fishers whose first name began with the letter A were killed on active service during the Great War. Of these, five were killed on 1st July 1916, four of whom are listed as Albert, Alexander, Arthur & Alder. The other man is the Private A. Fisher, Yorks & Lancs Regiment (hardly the highlands of Scotland, although that proves nothing) buried in Blighty Valley Cemetery on the Somme, the first name listed at the top of the above GRRF, about whom there is no extra information on the CWGC database; no mention of parents, no age, no personal inscription on his headstone, nothing to link him with our Alistair Fisher, and I suppose, equally, nothing to rule him out either. Note that his name was originally spelt incorrectly, and he doesn’t even have a date of death ascribed to him on the above form, it having been assumed, by the looks of it, that his date of death is the same as the second lieutenant of the Yorks & Lancs buried alongside him – which may well be right, but where’s the evidence? Checking other spellings of Fisher just in case reveals nothing, nor Watt, his mother’s maiden name, nor 1st July on the years before and after. So why do I remain unconvinced about the man on the form? Gut instinct, I suppose, and lack of evidence? What do you reckon?
Private Peter Grant, Northumberland Fusiliers, killed on 28th April 1917 aged 23 and buried in Orchard Dump Cemetery, Arleux-en-Gohelle, a couple of miles south east of Vimy. 28th April 1917 was the start of the two-day Battle of Arleux, British and Canadian troops attacking along an eight mile front east of Arras, from Monchy-le-Preux in the south, to Arleux-en-Gohelle in the north.
Peter Grant was one of many men killed that day and originally buried near to where they fell, in the cases of all the men listed on the above Concentration of Graves Form, at a location about a mile south of Gavrelle (and three and a half miles south of Arleux-en-Gohelle), their remains later exhumed and a few, including Peter, being identified, in his case by his disc, before reinterment. He is now one of 105 identified men, 60 Canadian and 45 British, who died on 28th April 1917 and are buried in Orchard Dump Cemetery.
I no longer do Fishers (but if I did I would tell you that Private Philip Fisher, Cameron Highlanders, died of wounds and is interred at the 8th Casualty Clearing Station’s burial ground at Etrun, a short distance west of Arras, in what is now Duisans British Cemetery).
Driver Henry Charles Preston, 49th Reserve Battery, R.F.A.
Interred in France at Epehy Wood Farm Cemetery on the Somme, actually. He was 21.
Two brothers, William & Alexander Young, both Great War casualties, one killed in France in July 1916, and one in Palestine in July 1918. William, aged 19, was with the Cameron Highlanders and was originally buried on the battlefield before his body was later recovered, identified, and reburied in Caterpillar Valley Cemetery, Longueval.
Alexander was 31 and was a driver with the Australian Light Horse at the time of his death, having at some point transferred from the Australian Army Service Corps. His name appears on the above list of men under the heading ‘Jerusalem Unlocated’,…
…and thus he is listed on Panel 59 (lower section) of the Jerusalem Memorial.
Two more brothers, again both Great War casualties. Donald Stewart was a twenty year old serjeant in the Seaforth Highlanders who died of wounds at Chatham in Kent, his body returned to Scotland to be buried here; his brother Murdo, a private in the Cameron Highlanders killed on 3rd May 1917 aged 28, is remembered on the Arras Memorial.
We have come across H.M.S. Vivid before, mainly in our explorations of the south west of England, it being the Royal Navy shore establishment at Devonport, Plymouth, during the Great War.
The father died on the day of the Armistice, the son was killed during World War II.
Flemings (above & below). On looking up Rodger (as it turned out – above), and William (below), just to see if they were related (the headstones, as you can see, are in different parts of the cemetery),…
…it became clear that they aren’t, Rodger’s parents being Carrbridge residents, William coming from Basingstoke in Hampshire. William, aged 25 and a private in the 1st Hampshires, was killed during the Allied invasion of Italy in 1943, and is buried in Salerno War Cemetery.
Now this is interesting. Note the Newfoundland emblem. And alongside him,…
…a second headstone, again with the Newfoundland moose, both headstones inscribed with ‘erected by his colleagues’,…
…as is, not far away, a third. However it was the headstone below…
…ironically with no Newfoundland emblem, that unlocked the mystery, if mystery there was. I cannot tell you why Maxwell Hawkins (inset) was accidentally shot and killed on 14th July 1940; what I can tell you is that he was a civilian woodcutter (lumberjack) working for the Newfoundland Overseas Forestry Unit who died on nearby Balmain Farm, and is commemorated in the Newfoundland Second World War Book of Remembrance (as well as among the 67,000 men and women who are commemorated on the Civilian War Dead Roll of Honour in Westminster Abbey, London).
And in fact all four men were lumberjacks, Blackmore (above), and Hawkins, Hoskins & Mercer (below), listed on pages 210-211 of the Book of Remembrance Addenda Panels (one wonders when it was decided that these men deserved their places on the Roll of Honour). As these two pages show, there were many accidents and many lives lost among the Forestry Corps men, all a long way from home, yet they were not entitled to a CWGC headstone, hence three of these headstones were erected by their colleagues.
And there is a fifth Forestry Corps man buried elsewhere in the cemetery, his headstone once again erected by his colleagues,…
…the name of James Hicks also listed on the second page the Book of Remembrance.
At first sight this headstone, crammed with death though it is, does not appear to contain any military references,…
…but Roderick most certainly was a serviceman, and perhaps his brother Alexander too, as he is included on this form.
The headstone on the left, incidentally, mentions an accidental drowning whilst serving on H.M.S. Bromnington. Too many consonants, methinks. H.M.S. Bronington, launched in 1953, sank in Liverpool Docks in 2016 and was subsequently scrapped; a minesweeper, she was the only ship commanded by H.R.H. Prince Charles during his stint in the Royal Navy in the mid-1970s.
The centre grave is that of Karl Fuchs – Austrian dissident, Iron Cross holder, Olympic skier, and pioneer – and the ‘father of modern Scottish skiing and ski-racing’ – along with his English wife Eileen (front) and his son Peter (right).
Two final details. The CWGC Index (inset) tells us that sixteen German soldiers were once buried here. They were certainly Great War casualties, and one wonders their story, and where they were removed to. The name of Gunner Roderick Lamont, although he is buried here – we saw his CWGC headstone earlier – does not appear on the nearby Carrbridge war memorial, but can be found on the Boat of Garten war memorial, three miles down the road.
An interesting place, is Ellan Wood, with its war memorial, cemetery, and of course its wildlife.