Today, this Remembrance Day, we remember all those who made the ultimate sacrifice.
Representatives from the Parish Council will join with others from community groups and organisations of this village to lay a wreath of Remembrance today in a socially distanced ceremony. This ceremony is being held in line with guidelines produced by the Government. We strongly encourage all residents to observe a 2 minute silence at 11am from the safety of their own homes.
To finish our series on sharing the stories of 31 men from Holmes Chapel who died in World War I, is the story of Harold Edwin Veale killed in Action 24th July 1917.
Harold Edwin was born in August 1896 at Ockham, Surrey to William and Annie Eliza Veale. His father was a gardener at Hatchford End and by 1911 Harold was also working in the garden. After 1911 it appears the family moved to Holmes Chapel because of the reports in the Parish Magazine.
He enlisted into the Royal Field Artillery as a Gunner, number L/1079. He served with the B Battery 153 Brigade.
In April 1917 the Parish Magazine reported that Mr and Mrs Veale’s two sons were in hospital but by May it was reported that they were both out of hospital and back with their regiments. However, in August it was reported that Harold had been killed in action in France on July 24th 1917 when he was aged 20 years.
His death was instantaneous and was reported by letter from his company officer as follows:
‘I cannot tell you how sorry I am to have to write to tell you your son was killed here in action on 24th. I am sure it must be a terrible blow to you. To us here the blow was so sudden and sad that hardly yet do we realise how much we have lost. The Battery was in action at the time, shooting in support of a daylight raid by the Infantry. In the middle of all the noise our own guns were making, a German shell burst within a few yards of the gun on which your son was serving and killed outright the whole detachment. Death was quite instantaneous, and I am sure he did not know a moments pain. We buried him here, together with his four comrades, in the afternoon, a clergyman holding a service over the grave.
I feel at times like these words of sympathy are of such poor comfort, but I must tell you how we all do sympathise with you. Since your son joined the Battery out here he has proved his worth. He was a wonderfully plucky chap, and one of our most promising gunners. Will you please accept from us all, men and officers, our most sincere condolence in your bitter loss.’
A memorial service was held at St Lukes for him on August 8th.
He was buried in Grave H16 at the White House Cemetery, Jean les Ypres in Belgium.White House Cemetery was begun in March 1915 and used until April 1918 by units holding this part of the line.
Our final WW2 Hero is Frank Blunstone Killed in Action on 9th March 1945. Frank Blunstone was born on 6th May 1914 in Cheshire, the son of Herbert and Violet (nee Lea) Blunstone, who had six children.
On 26th September 1939, Frank was living with his parents at Riverdale on Middlewich Road, Holmes Chapel. He was working as a Metal Turner. According to the Crewe Chronicle, he was working at Foden’s at Elworth, although a relative believed he worked at the Wallpaper works in Holmes Chapel. Frank was engaged to Mary Neild from Somerford, from a farming family, but they never married.
Frank Blunstone was not called up. He volunteered when his brother Herbert was called up. Frank joined the Airforce (No. 191791), and served as an Air Gunner with the rank of Pilot Officer in 578 Squadron of the Royal Air Force Reserve. His brother Private Herbert Blunstone, of the Cheshire Regiment served in the North Africa campaign and in Sicily and Italy.
578 Squadron was a heavy bomber squadron which between 6th February 1944 and 15th April 1945, was based at RAF Burn in North Yorkshire.
Frank was shot down in one of the last raids over Germany, and died of burns after being in hospital for a week.
In April 1945, Canon Vale said “We are whole-heartedly sympathetic with the Blunstone family with their suspense at this time. We very much trust that good news of Frank may come along very soon”.
He is buried in Kiel War Cemetery, Grave 1.H.21, and is listed on the Holmes Chapel War Memorial in St Luke’s Churchyard.
Frank Blunstone (in civvies) with his brother Herbert
Our thanks to the U3A History Group for sharing these stories
For the Fallen
by Robert Laurence Binyon (1869-1943)
"With proud thanksgiving, a mother for her children, England mourns for her dead across the sea. Flesh of her flesh they were, spirit of her spirit, Fallen in the cause of the free.
Solemn the drums thrill: Death august and royal Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres. There is music in the midst of desolation And a glory that shines upon our tears.
They went with songs to the battle, they were young, Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow. They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted, They fell with their faces to the foe.
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old: Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning We will remember them.
They mingle not with their laughing comrades again; They sit no more at familiar tables of home; They have no lot in our labour of the day-time; They sleep beyond England's foam.
But where our desires are and our hopes profound, Felt as a well-spring that is hidden from sight, To the innermost heart of their own land they are known As the stars are known to the Night;
As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust, Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain, As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness, To the end, to the end, they remain."