When I last wrote concerning an encounter with three "Bs" it was concerning two battalions of Kitchener's New Army - the letters appearing on a circular lapel-badge (together with a cockerel) and worn in civilian clothing by "Bigland's Birkenhead Bantams", Alfred Bigland, MP, being directly responsible during November/December, 1914 for the formation of the 15th and 16th Battalions of the Cheshire Regiment - both made up from recruits below regulation height. My next encounter with this particular trio of letters would be in August, 2002 and in conjunction with a visit to the West Somerset resort of Brean.
Leaving the M5 Motorway at Junction 22, you then head along the B3140 towards Burnham-on-Sea. Note on the left as you entering the town, the War Memorial Hospital with its tablet listing the names of those that were killed. Then, along the coast road, we soon come to Berrow. Its war memorial in the car park at the village's fourteenth-century church, but nothing of First World War interest in St. Mary's itself. On now, and Brean, our third "B" of the day, soon appears amidst its sea of caravans and holiday homes. Past Pontins Camp on the right and there a little further along on the same side of the road the delightful St. Bridget's.
Probably founded by Irish monks in the sixth century, notes the church guidebook, St. Bridget's lies close to the shoreline where for some seven hundred years (the present building is thirteenth century) Atlantic gales have pounded its structure. The tower, now much shortened and with a saddle-back roof, was struck by lighting in 1729 and partly demolished.
|There is a framed Roll of Honour (this also gives regiment) for those lost during the First World War on the wall of the nave as you enter the church - but it is the churchyard that provides us with delight in the form of the parish memorial. Look at the uniform - perfect in every detail as our soldier offers up his olive branch. Note also how the seven names are bright and clear, obviously regularly re-painted and cared for by the people of Brean - and one name, that of L. Evans. Gunner Lot Evans of the 4th Siege Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery, buried in the churchyard having died at home on 13 February, 1919.|
Copyright © Ray Westlake, September, 2002
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