Sunday, 31 October 2010

And Let's Hear it for Hurley, NM

Just under one and a half thousand souls live in Hurley, New Mexico, USA.

There's lots of local history and info on their official site, including its links to Chino mining and the Santa Rita frontiersmen.

It sounds like a fascinating place.

Link:
Hurley, NM Official Site

Another Hurley Village, This Time in Warks.

Hurley Post Office, Warwickshire
I was surprised to come across a place called Hurley in Warwickshire the other day (in my 'day job').

I knew of Hurley in Berkshire, as I lived nearby for some years and always smiled when I saw the road sign for 'Hurley.'

Hurley in Berks probably grew up (or at least simply grew) around Hurley Priory, a Benedictine House, founded in 1086 and so obviously a Norman foundation.

As of yet I do not know how these two very English towns got their (Irish sounding!) names, but I will report back to you if and when I find out any more info.

The second link below details more of the history of Hurley, Berks., including St Birinus (700 AD) and the  founding of the Parish Church, much more on the Priory (inc the location of the Sanctus bell) and even some info on the (misnomered) "glorious revolution" of the imposed King, William III (boo).

Links:
Hurley, Berks.
History of Hurley, Berks
Hurley,Warks.
Some great memories of Hurley, Warks.

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Gay History in the Classroom?

How wonderful that "gay history" is being taught in at least one London school!

I always thought that history lessons should be more cheerful and as Enid Blyton taught me (c/o the Famous Five and the magic Faraway Tree) there's nothing so cheerful as being happy and gay.

For a really gay history lesson the teachers concerned could do no better than this cheerful little offering from Mrs Blyton:

After a little communal read the whole classroom would be as cheerful as could be, with lashings of ginger beer!

Or have I missed something ;-)

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Hurley, New York, USA

Yes fellow lovers of all things Hurley!

We have a settlement in New York State, with its own fascinating history.

Settled/established by the Dutch, AND NAMED Niew Dorp, it was attacked and destroyed by the natives, only to be later settled and renamed: HURLEY!

What a relief for the whole population of circa 6K. They are now Hurleyans, rather than NuDorpites.

I know which I'd prefer.

Interestingly the village was named after Francis Lovelace, Baron Hurley of Ireland.

Oh yes. This gets better and better.

More on that chap as and when...

9 Para's War Dog

I have just been reading about Private Emil Corteil and his dog, Glenn, in a book on the Merville Battery assault by Carl Shilleto.

They were in A Company, which we believe to be the Company my uncle, Private D.R. Hurley, served with.

The following 6 year old news report from the telegraph includes a mention of 9 Para, A Company's famous War Dog:

The members of the airborne forces who died in the initial D-Day landings and are buried in the Ranville cemetery include a dog.

Glen was the only "war dog" with 9 Parachute Battalion, which parachuted into the area around Merville to silence the main German coastal defence battery on the allies' left flank.
Pte Corteil was probably known to my uncle, and they share the same cemetery in Normandy. Corteil's grave (pictured right) is shared by his dog Glenn*, said to be the only example of this, a handler being buried with his dog.

Link:
Daily Telegraph article
Para Dogs
Pte Corteil's Grave Info

*Some reports (like the Telegraph's) give Glen as the name, but most seem to refer to Glenn.

Gamers Re-play Merville Assault

Playing with childrens' toys or trying to re-work historical events?

Well, you'll have your own ideas. The site below has a 'gamers' account of their own version of the assault on Merville.

The actual layout of the gaming table looks very similar to 1944-era recon photos of the battery and gives you an idea of what the attackers of 9 Para were facing, albeit very simplified (minus machine gun nests, mine fields, flooded areas etc.).

Nothing too exciting otherwise, but I suppose anything that keeps the memory of 9 Para at Merville alive can't be all bad.

Link:
Gamer's Merville

Sunday, 24 October 2010

O'Hurley's General Store, WV, USA

This is O'Hurley's General Store in West Virginia, USA.

It looks like everything you'd want in an old fashioned general store!

I can almost imagine 'the man with no name' moseying on up to get some beef jerky.

A person on flickr says:

This is a very interesting place. On Thursday nights, they have local musicians playing some great music.

On Yelp someone else says:

Lots of unique items. Collectors may find things like old signs. You can get some hardware that would be used in "century old" type homes. I also think their furniture, which is vintage country, is reasonably priced.

We are planning to build on our lot nearby in WVa in the next year or so, and will be returning here to pick up some items to decorate our home.

Their own website (see below) is run by one Jay Hurley.

Seems like everything you'd want in a real American/Southern General Store. Yee ha!

Now all I need is a sponsored family holiday so we can go visit... ;-)

Link:
O'Hurley's General Store

A Tale of Two Bunkers

This picture of the Merville Battery site today shows one of the bunkers on site.

This is the site that 9 Para, including Private D.R. Hurley assaulted before dawn on D-Day, whilst other battalions of the 6th Airborne Division took Pegasus Bridge and other targets.

These bunkers were built to be camouflaged from the air.

Indeed on seeing this picture of a bunker at Merville, our youngest immediately said 'it looks like Pembrey Country Park.'

At the Country Park - the site of RAF Pembrey until 1957 and a Royal Ordnance Factory during WW2 and the Korea War - there are many bunkers almost identical in layout to the Merville bunker pictured here.

The Kidwelly History site says of the Royal Ordnance Factory at Pembrey:

It was Britain's largest producer of TNT with 700 tons and produced 1,000 tons of Ammonium Nitrate and 40 tons of Tetryl at it's peak in 1942 and employed 2,000 people.

Therefore it would seem that the bunkers in the country park, such as that pictured here, were used for storing ordnance. It is probably the case that the bunker at Merville above was for the same usage.

One can almost imagine the concrete entrance to the bunkers painted in camouflage paint, draped with camouflage netting and similar to disguise them from the air and reconnaissance efforts by the RAF and the Luftwaffe accordingly.

There is less earth on top of the French bunker, but given the severe aerial bombardment of the Merville Battery, there's little wonder that the actual bunker had less natural coverage.

The picture below shows the Merville Battery with the gun bunkers circled. It shows the extent of Allied bombing on the site which, if nothing else, must have unnerved and demoralised the defenders.

According the official Merville Museum site (see link in right hand panel), the Merville Battery received:

The most intensive bombing (in excess of 1,000 bombs dropped by 109 Lancasters) of the night of 5th/6th June.

Funnily enough, the Welsh bunker pictured above with its occupant, a London-style red double decker bus (I think it's a Routemaster - it certainly looks like one), is said to be haunted and featured on the TV show 'Most Haunted' which focused on Pembrey Woods (see embedded You Tube link below).

As usual the programme is more than a little cheesy and open to all manner of interpretation, but it also gives a good overview and intro to the Country Park and its former occupants and usage. You can see the bunker with the double decker bus in it on part one of the show.



Links:
Merville on French Wikipedia (more info than its English version)
Kidwelly History on RAF Pembrey


Friday, 22 October 2010

Half the Victims Reappear

Some good news.

On closing up the chickens last night, one of the children decided to use the torch he'd taken with him to scan the pond, and there 'sleeping' calmly at the bottom of the pond were three (of our original six) goldfish.

It seems at least half of them survived the onslaught earlier this week.

Today they were nowhere to be seen again, even when food was sprinkled on the pond. We think they are still in mortal fear of being seen by a heron; but at least some of them live on!



Dum vita est, spes est.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

The Robin Hood Tax Video



I have to say, Bill Nighy is one of my favourite actors.

Oi! Where Are the Goldfish?


Just a few months ago we dug out a small pond in our garden (being not long out of hospital Old Pa Hurley popped by to give a more than welcome hand).

After a short while it looked good. Stones were cemented around the sides, the lilies we put in were growing and spreading, and (as they say in France) the piece of resistance (or something like that) we put in six goldfish, three we already had in a tank and three new tiddlers.

Over the months the goldfish grew in size. I and other family members enjoyed feeding the fish and seeing them darting about as we fed the chickens or pottered in the garden.

Then, last Monday (we'd been out most of Sunday) I noticed the pond was quite low and the fish were nowhere to be seen. Some days they did hide (perhaps a cat had been a bit nosey) but this was weird. By Tuesday we had to concur that 'some of our goldfish are missing.' Well, all of them actually.

We wondered what had happened. Given the drop in water I wondered if a fox (which are in the area) had got in at night and splashed about and eaten the fish.

I was overlooking the obvious.

By Wednesday, Mrs H. ("the missus") said what it was! Of course, why hadn't we thought of that before?

Then today she had it confirmed, when looking up the garden she saw, stood bold as brass in the pond, a huge heron!

She said it looked positively prehistoric standing there in our little pond.

So that is where our goldfish went! A handy stopover snack for a heron!

Now we need to find out when is the best time to re-stock the pond, and how best to protect our little tiddlers from the attention of an errant heron.

Having watched our tadpoles grow into frogs and swim out of the pond earlier in the year, and all the pleasure our goldfish gave us (before becoming a la carte for a heron), I certainly have enjoyed having the pond this year.

I would prefer not to cover the pond with a mesh as I think it would spoil the look of it, but it really depends on whether or not we can find some alternative that works!

Any tips gratefully received!

Did Allied Leaflets Make Defenders of Hauger Fight on?

In reading up on 9 Para's engagement on the 7th of June at Hauger, against German Army volunteers/conscripts from Soviet Republics, I found the following text which gives an overall assessment of who those people were and why they enrolled in the German Army and thus were in Normandy, 1944, shooting at British paratroopers:

In my opinion there is one reason which explains everything: the general hatred of the Soviet system, a hatred greater than inborn patriotism and loyalty to one's own government. Those who have not seen the limitless degradation of man in what was the Soviet hell cannot understand that a moment may come when a man out of sheer desperation will take up arms against the hateful system even at the side of an enemy. The responsibility for his mutiny falls on the system and not him. Here the notions of loyalty and treason lose their meaning. If, in the eyes of many people, Germans who fought against Hitler were not traitors, why should the Russians who fought against the Soviet system be traitors?

How little public opinion in the West understood the real state of affairs is perhaps best shown by the text of the leaflets, addressed to Soviet soldiers in German uniform, which were dropped by the Allied Air Forces in France in the summer of 1944. These leaflets called for the cessation of fighting and promised as a reward - speedy repatriation of prisoners to the USSR! The effect was of course, such that some of the Eastern troops fought desperately to the last man. Thus, for example, an Armenian battalion perished completely in bitter fighting. Soldiers of the Eastern formations were the unhappiest soldiers of the Second World War. Deprived of their fatherland, scorned by their protectors, regarded generally as traitors, although in their consciences they were not traitors, they fought often for an alien and hateful cause; the only reward which they eventually received for their pains was toil and death, mostly in a foreign land, or "repatriation" to the hell from which they had tried to escape. 

The part I particularly found of interest was that Allied leaflets dropped on Normandy before D-Day, targeting the 'Ostruppen' in these regiments, hugely backfired. In all but promising to repatriate them to the USSR, the Allied forces had ensured that these men (who were known in part for surrendering or running away at engagements with an enemy) would fight to the bitter end.

If Private D. R. Hurley were indeed shot at Hauger, then the leaflet drops by the allies may have helped to create the circumstances. At the very least they may have resulted in the deaths of a few more Paras from his battalion.

Link:
Russian Volunteers in the German Wehrmacht in WWII by Lt. Gen Wladyslaw Anders and Antonio Munoz

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

6th Airborne Division Memorial, Ranville War Cemetary


The memorial to the 6th Airborne Division, of which 9 Para was a part, at the Ranville War Cemetery in Calvados, Normandy, France.

Private Daniel Roderick Hurley's grave is at Ranville:

Private D.R. Hurley was in Dakota KG314


After reading his impressive account of the assault on the Merville Battery, I sent an email to author and researcher Neil Barber, and was more than happy to get this response earlier today:

Many thanks for the message.  I’ve only had time to have a quick look at your site, but it looks very impressive.  I’ll have a longer look when I get the chance.

For the past 18 months I have been trying to form a list of men who served in the 9th Battalion at any time from its inception to disbandment.  This is an ongoing project and will hopefully feed some further analysis of events when I’m happy with the amount of content. 
  I’ve looked at this list and the information I have on your uncle is as follows:

His  Para Course was 79.   Travelled in Dakota KG314, Chalk ?, jumped No 15.  Could have been wounded during the bombing of Brigadier Hill’s group as he was a member of Lt Catlin’s plane, many of which joined this party.  I also have that he died of wounds, but where that come from, I’d have to check.  Being in Catlin’s plane he was almost certainly a member of ‘A’ Company.  If you look at the ‘A’ Company photo, can you see him ?

Operation Tonga - The part of D-Day involving 9 Para
Being on the Merville Battery Museum Committee, obviously I’m involved in the maintenance and improvement of the Battalion’s history there.  I am trying to increase the amount of photos on display (in casemate 2) of the men themselves and so I just wondered if you had a wartime photo of him that could be mounted there.  It would be a marvellous addition.
I have been told that it's possible that Private D.R. Hurley may have been injured on the 6th of June, and died of those injuries on the 7th. This seems to be the understanding of his mother (my nan, Ann Hurley) as recalled by my own mother.

If this is the case, then it's possible that Private Hurley died after the assault at Merville. According to one account of the assault, A Company (which Mr Barber thinks was Private Hurley's company) jointly led the assault.

The main item to be discerned, it seems, is where and when Private Hurley was wounded and/or died, at Merville on the 6th to die the next day, or at Hauger on the 7th. 

Another researcher on the forum 12 O'Clock High, states that Dakota KG314 was part of 512 Squadron. The full list of planes in that squadron is as follows:

A C-47A Dakota involved in a fly-past.
 512 Squadron - Dakota III

KG392 'V'
KG390 'E'
KG422 'B1'
FZ647 'H'
KG322 'C'
KG314 'C1'
KG480 'G'
KG373 'B'
KG486 'A1'
KG407 'D'
KG324 'A'
KG333 'N'
FZ649 'J1'
FZ610 'O'
FZ694 'R'
FZ651 'J'
KG344 'L'
KG348 'K'
FZ658 'M'
FZ696 'Q'
FZ609 'P'
FZ656 'K'
KG368 'Y'
KG323 'U1'
KG418 'T1'
KG371 'X'
KG330 'T'
KG347 'S1'
KG361 'U'
KG379 'W'



As a post script, the list of casualties of the drop and the assault on the Merville Battery, according to Appendix "A", Capture of Coastal Bty Position at 155775 by 9 Para Bn 6 Jun 44, Point 5. Execution:
"Casualties - 1 Officer killed and 4 wounded, 65 ORs killed, wounded and missing.  This does not include severe casualties."
 As stated previously, this left the 9 Para battalion with 80 men at the end of D-Day.

Monday, 18 October 2010

9 Para's Chaplain, Normandy 1944

It seems from the '39-45 Living History Society' that the Chaplain of the 9th Paras, Rev J. Gwinnett, who would have been known to my uncle Private Daniel Roderick Hurley, not only cared for the dead and wounded of the Paras, but also of the German enemy troops.

The site linked to above has some interesting material on 9 Para in Normandy, and the role of Rev. Gwinnett and others.

Ostbattalions 439, 441 & 642 in Normandy, 1944

German Army Turkmen volunteers in Normandy
 According to one website, the German 716th Division had two 'Ost Battalions':


Order of battle (June 1944)
Grenadier-Regiment 726 (Ost-Bataillon 439 assigned as IV. Bataillon)
Grenadier-Regiment 736 (Ost-Bataillon 642 assigned as IV. Bataillon)


Link:
716th Infantry Division

According to another site, the 716th Division had three 'Ost Battalions':

The division consisted of:
• Infantry: two Grenadier Regiments (726. and 736.). They were also assigned three Ost-Battalions, who were poorly armed and trained (439., 441. and 642.).

Link:
716th Infantry Division

Another site - a forum - also cites the 439, 441 and 642 being in Normandy.
This forum also discusses the capabilities, uniforms, armaments of the 'Ostruppen.'

Link:
Ostruppen in Normandy 1944

Unless I can get someone who knows of a German-language source to find out which troops were in Hauger on the 7th of June 1944, it may be through Para veterans or similar I can find out more...

Were the German-Russians in Hauger, 1944 really Turkistanis?

A Turkestan volunteer in German Army uniform
On trying to find out more about the German/Russian troops facing the 9th Paras at Hauger on the 7th of June 1944 I have looked up the basics on Wikipedia.

It seems that at the Eastern end of the invasion zone, the 716th Infantry Division of the German Army was stationed, and this did include battalions of "Osttruppen ("Eastern Troops")" which would be known as Russians to the allied soldiers, but could be from any of the Soviet Republics (Tartars, Ukrainians, Turkmens etc.)

Interestingly the 709th Division which defended the Cherbourg peninsula also contained 'Ostruppen.'

Some of these Eastern Troops were conscripts and some were volunteers, and included Orthodox (Russia, Georgia), Catholic (Ukraine, Lithuania) and even Muslims (Chechens, Uzbeks).

According to Wikipedia's pages, Georgians and Armenians served in the Netherlands. The most likely candidates for being in the 716th Division from this first look are the Turkestan forces (Turkomans, Uzbeks, Kazakhs etc.) although Volga-Tatar volunteers' info is sketchy.

I hope to read more on this so I can try and work out who exactly the "Russian" forces of the German 716th Infantry Divison were in Hauger on the 7th of June 1944, who probably killed Private Daniel Roderick Hurley.

Wikipedia can give a good and easily sourced introduction to such things, but it's 'facts' can be a little unstable and so need verification.


Wikipedia Info:

716th Infantry Division (Static) defended the Eastern end of the landing zones, including most of the British and Canadian beaches. This division, as well as the 709th, included Germans who were not considered fit for active duty on the Eastern Front, usually for medical reasons, and soldiers of various other nationalities (from conquered countries, often drafted by force) and former Soviet prisoners-of-war who had agreed to fight for the Germans rather than endure the harsh conditions of German POW camps (among them so called hiwis). These "volunteers" were concentrated in "Ost-Bataillone" (East Battalions) that were of dubious loyalty.

The 716th Static Infantry Division (German: 716. Infanterie-Division) was a World War II, German Army Division. It was raised on May 2, 1941 and sent to German-occupied France in June of 1941. Many of the Divisions troops were elderly Germans and conscripts from other German occupied countries, especially Russians. As such it was not equipped with standard configuration of vehicles and heavy weapons. Much of the Division’s artillery and anti-tank weapons were captured weapons.

References:
Normandy Landings
716th Division
Ostlegion
Turkestan Legion

Sunday, 17 October 2010

9th Paras at Hauger and the Enemy's Russians


National Archives catalogue number WO 171/1242. 

7th June 1944
Place: Le Plein

Bn attacked by the enemy.  Considerable sniping which caused some casualties.  C.O. visited Brigadier Lord Lovatt Commanding ISS Bde.

Right: A memorial at Hauger in Calvados to the 4th Commando who saw action there circa the 7th of June and stayed there until the 7th July. They then moved onto Breville which had already been (famously!) captured by the 6th Airborne Div (inc the 9th Paras). They report "Several prisoners were rounded up after the engagements - most of them young troops, including a few Poles and White Russians." It seems likely that Private Daniel Roderick Hurley fell at Hauger on the 7th, and whilst the Paras went on to win accolades for their assault on Breville days later, the 4th Commando are remembered for their sacrifices at Hauger.

2130 - Bn relieved by 1 SS Bde and proceeded to LE MESNIL where temporary positions were taken up.  In this area the Bn reverted to Brigade control and were given orders to hold the high ground SOUTH of ST Côme.



Report on Operations of 9 Para Bn 6 - 12 June 1944

The primary task of 9 Para Bn in the initial landing was the destruction of the Coastal Battery at 155775[*].  A separate report on this action has already been submitted.  It is necessary however to recapitulate somewhat in order to describe the state of the Bn on completion of its primary task.

The parachute drop at 0050 hrs had been widely scattered.  Consequently only 150 all ranks had been available for the primary task.  This task, which was successfully accomplished, involved heavy casualties to the already small force.

The secondary task allotted to 9 Para Bn was to seize and hold the LE PLEIN feature until relieved by No 1 SS Bde.

The Bn strength was now reduced to 80 all ranks, one MG, no mortars, no Fd Amb, no sappers, a few unit medical orderlies.  The CO further had 22 prisoners on his hands, and his wounded personnel to consider.  Amongst his prisoners he found a German Medical Officer and two medical orderlies.  He therefore left his wounded with these medical personnel and two of his own medical orderlies, at a neighbouring chateau.  His numbers were now augmented by the crew of a glider who had been fighting a German Pl in the neighbourhood.  This brought the Bn strength up to just 100.

The move to LE PLEIN across country was begun at once - it was uneventful.  Shortly after the start a formation of Allied aircraft came over, and presumably mistaking them for enemy troops, released two sticks of heavy bombs.  These sticks fell on either side of the column and parallel to their line of advance.  By extreme good fortune no casualties ensued.

On approaching the village of HAUGER on the north slopes of LE PLEIN the column was warned by a frenchman that the village was occupied by 200 Russians, impressed into the Germany Army after capture on the Eastern Front.

At 0900 hrs the column was fired on from the front and left flank as it approach rd junc 133757.  As the advance continued the enemy 30-40 strong withdrew to the cross rds on the eastern outskirts of the village.  The leading elements of the column thereupon put in a straight forward attack down the line of the road.  This dislodged the enemy who fell back on the rd junc in the centre of the village leaving 15 dead behind them.

The enemy now held a position of some strength with MGs posted on both flanks.  The CO therefore occupied the houses at the eastern end of the village.

The enemy now attempted to counter attack by a right flanking move through the orchards.  As this attack came in it was met by the Vickers MG at 20 yds range, the attack immediately dissolved, leaving a further dozen dead behind.

It became apparent that the strength of the enemy's position lay in one particular house.  The CO therefore decided to send a party of 30 right flanking to take this house in the rear.  This attack failed, however, as the house had been properly prepared for defence and loop-holes all round.  Furthermore it was surrounded by a 6 ft wall with MGs firing on fixed lines along the edge of the wall.

It was apparent that this force was not strong enough to evict the enemy from the village, and the CO therefore decided to consolidate.  He occupied a chateau on the outskirts of the village with his main force, leaving one section at the rd junc.

The position then became one of stalemate.  The enemy, though in greatly superior numbers made no further attempts to attack.  He did, however, make a very great use of snipers who were most skilfully sited and concealed.  Their standard of shooting varied however.  In one instance they appeared incapable of learning any lessons from the fate of their comrades.  They persistently sniped from the church tower although one man after another was killed in doing so.  Subsequently, six dead snipers were found in the tower.  The most effective way of dealing with the sniping proved to be the "set a thief to catch a thief" method.  Our own snipers by carefully watching located enemy snipers and eliminated them in turn.

This situation lasted for almost 24 hrs, until the afternoon of 7 June when 1 SS Bde (Commandos) arrived, cleared the village and relieved the Bn of responsibility for the LE PLEIN feature.

[Thereafter?] reverted to bde control, and during the night 7/8 Jun moved to the woods south at ST COME 1373, where they were ordered to hold the high ground about 135736.  The whole area was heavily wooded and intersected with high thick hedges.  At only three points where orchards adjoined the position was there any field of view.

Link:
Full history circa D-Day of 9th Para inc. war diary
A More General Overview of the 9th Paras Movements
Full history circa D-Day of 4th Commando
9th Para at Breville


*Coastal Battery at 155775 was the Merville Coastal Battery. The Paras were scattered but it is highly likely that Private Daniel Roderick Hurley took part in this famous assault, the 9th Para primary goal for D-Day, as he did not die until the following day.

For full details on the assault at Merville see: The Merville Battery by Neil Barber. This site has a map showing Merville, Hauger (possible place of Private Hurley's death) and Breville, all sites of 9th Para actions.

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Private Daniel Roderick Hurley 14409489, 9th Para, R.I.P.

Please say a prayer for the repose of the soul of Daniel Roderick "Roddy" Hurley, died 7th June, 1944, Normandy, France.

This photograph was supplied by Bern and Fay Robins in the memory of The Parachute Regiment and family members Thomas Thresher and Charles Rutherford McIlhargey.

Link:
Photo Source 
Commonwealth War Graves Commission record of Private D.R. Hurley

Private Daniel Roderick Hurley, 9th Paras, D-Day

2009: Veterans of 9 Para greeted by a German Army band in Normandy.
My Uncle Roddy died the day after D-Day (7 June 1944), aged just 19 years old.

Here is the info from the Para Data site:

Private Daniel Roderick Hurley, son of Daniel Joseph and Ann Hurley, of Cardiff, served with 9th (Essex) Parachute Battalion. He took part in the D-Day landings to Normandy, during Op Overlord.
Private Hurley died on 7 June 1944, aged 19 years old. He is now buried at Ranville War Cemetery, Normandy.

 His military history is:

Army Roll of Honour: World War II supplied by Naval and Military Press Ltd

Name
Daniel R Hurley
Rank
Private
Service Number
14409489
Regiment
Parachute Regt (not otherwise specified)
Date of Death
7/6/44
Theatre of War
Western Europe Campaign, 1944/45


The 9th (Essex) Parachute Battalion was formed from the 10th Battalion The Essex Regiment in December 1942 and became part of the 3rd Parachute Brigade with the 6th Airborne Division in 1943. 

The Battalion was widely scattered during the D-Day drop on 6th June 1944 but, nevertheless, succeeded in storming the German gun battery at Merville, in an epic and costly action with a much diminished force. It fought around Breville and then participated in the break-out to the Seine in August. It fought in the Ardennes during the winter of 1944-5 and parachuted as part of the Rhine Crossings during Operation VARSITY in March 1945, subsequently advancing to the Baltic with the 3rd Parachute Brigade.

After the war it served in Palestine with the 6th Airborne Division and was amalgamated with the 8th Parachute Battalion when the 3rd Brigade was disbanded to form the 8th/9th Parachute Battalion in January 1948.

Commanding Officers:


1943-4        Lt Col M Lindsay
1944            Lt Col TCH Otway, DSO
1944-6        Lt Col N Crookenden, DSO
1946-7        Lt Col MAH Butler, DSO, MC
1947-8        Lt Col PC Hinde, DSO
1948            Lt Col JHM Hackett, DSO. (8th/9th Bn)
by Paradata Editor


Uncle Roddy's grave details are as follows:
07/06/44
14409489
Pte.
HURLEY
D R
Ranville
IA-M-3



 Links:
Para Data on Uncle Roddy
Daily Mail on 9th Paras Memorial
9th Para Roll of Honour

Newport's Hurley War Dead

My grandfather, Daniel Hurley fought in WW1 with the Royal Engineers.

In trying to find out a little more about this I came across the website below which details the Hurleys from Newport, Gwent who died in WW1, two of whose memorial is in St Mary's RC Church (I assume in Newport).

Interestingly, my grandfather was born in Ireland and, as yet, I do not know if he was recruited or called-up in Ireland or Wales, because in WW1, 1914-1918, the whole of Ireland was still officially part of the United Kingdom (despite the 1916 Easter Rising).

It wasn't until Ireland was partitioned in 1921 that Kinsale, County Cork and all of what we now know as 'southern Ireland,' 'the Irish Republic' or 'Eire' became the Irish Free State.

So it is perfectly feasible that during WW1 a Hurley from Kinsale may have signed up or been called up for service in the British Army.

A 'Who Do You Think You Are?' documentary I watched a while back (Dervla Kirwin I think???) broached this very subject, and said that service in the army was normal, even for those with Irish republican (Sinn Fein/IRA) sympathies.

My search for Daniel Hurley's war record with the Royal Engineers continues...

Link:
Newport's War Dead: H

World War One memorial Hurley, Daniel, 40, 26th September 1917, 10th Bn. Royal Welsh Fusiliers,  
33741, Private, Son of Bartholomew and Noah Hurley, of 11, 
Wallis St., Pill, Newport, Mon., TYNE COT MEMORIAL,  
Panel 63 to 65.Local memorial - St Mary's RC church

Obituary Hurley, Harold, 21, 29th April 1916, Private
Hurley, Harold, 24th May 1917,  
1st/4th Bn Devonshire Regiment, 200743, 
Private, BASRA MEMORIAL, Panel 11.
Hurley, John. Royal Engineers, 768, Sapper,     
WW1 Local memorial - General Post Office, 
Newport and St Mary's RC church
Hurley, Victor, 23rd October 1918, 9th Bn.  
The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 41364, 
Private, BERLIN SOUTH-WESTERN CEMETERY, XVIII. B. 9.

Friday, 15 October 2010

Huzzey: French, English or Irish in origin?

My maternal grandfather's name was Huzzey (more on that famous side of the family soon).

I am not sure of the origins of the name, though I recall a framed crest produced for my grandfather (now deceased) which stated it was French in origin.

According to the Surname Database, it could be French, Old English or Irish in origin:

This interesting surname, chiefly found in Scotland, has a number of possible sources. Firstly, it may be of Norman origin, and locational from Houssaye, a place in Seine-Maritime, so called from the Old French "hous", holly. Locational names were originally given to the Lord of the Manor, or as a means of identification to those who had left their place of origin to settle elsewhere. Regional and dialectal differences subsequently produced several variations of the original spelling of the name. Hosie may also belong to that sizeable group of early European surnames that were gradually created from the habitual use of nicknames. These nicknames were given with reference to a variety of characteristics, such as physical attributes or peculiarities, mental and moral characteristics, or to habits of dress and occupation. In this instance the derivation may be from the Old French "h(e)use", booted, originally denoting someone who wore boots of an unusual design, or it may derive from the Old English pre 7th Century "hus(e)wif", indicating a woman who was mistress of her own household. Finally, Hosie, and its variants Huzzey, Huss(e)y and Hosey, may be an Anglicized form of the Old Gaelic Irish "O hEodhusa",descendant of Eodhus, a personal name given in bardic families. In 1177 one Walter Hose possessed the Manor of Craigie in Kyle, and on September 4th 1778, George Hosie, an infant, was christened in Cranston, Midlothian. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Walter Hosatus, which was dated 1086, in the Domesday Book, during the reign of William 1, known as "William the Conqueror", 1066 - 1087. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.

Two possible Huzzey coats of arms. From a brief study of the history of the Huzzey name, the names Huzzey, Hussey and variants thereof seem fairly interchangeable:
Dingle, Co. Kerry Arms
Baron Galtrim arms

James Francis 'Frank' Hurley - An Heroic Photographer

Has there been an Australian life to equal that of Frank Hurley's for its breadth, its exuberance, its derring-do? Photographer, adventurer, explorer, showman - Hurley was all of these and more.

Thus starts the review for 'Frank Hurley - A Photographer's Life.'

This video on you tube is quite moving, spanning so many momentous events.

Sadly the makers of the video (or montage) have not allowed it to be embedded in other sites [probably at the request of the photo owners... I'm not sure].

If you are a Hurley, interested in exploration, an historian, fascinated by WW1 or WW2, an Australian or a photographer then I would strongly recommend this video.

The commentary is very good and the video is quite moving.


Link:
Frank Hurley's Photography

And a review of the book pictured above is at the website of the Australian newspaper The Age

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Kinsale Military Re-enactment

This video is of a re-enactment event in Kinsale, which seems to span the centuries from Celts to the 20th Century.

There seems to be some items related to either the 1916 uprising or the 1921 civil war.

The chap filming it lacks a certain gravitas in his commentary (he's seems to not-know more than he knows!) and his camera-work is... interesting.

Yet for all that you get a good glimpse of the events, and another view of Kinsale.

So, enjoy!

GAA Caused 'Irish' Hurley Sticks Row

OK, so this is an old news story, he said clutching at straws, but this is a wonderful way of showing where the Hurley name comes from.

The sticks used in the sport of Hurling are known as Hurley sticks. So I guess somewhere down the line some ancestor of mine was either a good Hurling player or a maker of fine Hurley sticks.

Great sportsman or skilled craftsman. In all humility, as I fit both criteria (stop laughing) I don't mind which. Perhaps my studies and meandering will confirm which it is...

As for the row itself, I think as Hurling is an Irish sport, and as the GAA was brought into existence (as I understand it from Irish friends) to promote Irish sports and culture, then it's only right that the Hurley stcks should be Irish.

No big deal really.


Link:
BBC Story on GAA Hurley Sticks Row


For those interested, here's a video on the making of a Hurley stick:


Irish Guild of Ash Hurley Makers - Ear To The Ground from Irish Guild Of Ash Hurley Makers on Vimeo.


And here's another Irish Hurley sticks story - linked with the TV show Dragon's Den:

Link:
Irish Hurley Maker on Dragon's Den

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Current & Recent Famous Hurley Bishops

I have found a few more Hurley clerics:
Archbishop Francis Thomas Hurley,
Bishop Mark Joseph Hurley (his deceased brother)
Bishop Walter Allison Hurley.
Archbishop Denis Eugene Hurley.
Bishop Daniel Eugene Hurley.
Archbishop Joseph Patrick Hurley.

Here are a couple of relative videos:




History of Penal Times in Ireland

This is the best article I have foundf thus far, which explains the history of the times in relation to Bl. Dermot O'Hurley's martyrdom at the hands of Elizabeth I (boo).

It's well worth a read, as are many of his other essays (eg. Return to Chesterton) - just follow the link through to his other works.

This aerticle originally appeared in Homiletic and Pastoral Review, July, 2002.

Link:
It Is the Mass that Matters by Fr TJ McGovern

The Hurley Chalice, Cork City

This is the famous Hurley Chalice, a relic of Blessed Archbishop Dermot O'Hurley, held at St Mary's Cathedral, Cork City.

I found this picture at:

The Road to Kilomonogue

where the lady researcher wrongly refers to him as Bishop Hurley.

Her page is worth a look though as she does track down some possible members of her Hurley family in County Cork.

Monday, 11 October 2010

Blessed Dermot O'Hurley, Archbishop and Catholic Martyr

Further to my last post it turns out that the Hurleys don't have their own Saint. But as a Blesséd, the good Archbishop is just one step away (like Cardinal Newman) from being a Saint.

St Kevin's Church, the burial place of Bl. Dermot O'Hurley
I've put the Wikipedia page about him in the Hurley site links, in the right hand column.

Here's Archbishiop Diarmaid Ó hUrthuile - Dermot O'Hurley's - final address at his execution by that wicked witch Elizabeth I (feel free to boo at her name):


"Be it therefore known unto you...that I am a priest anointed and also a Bishop, although unworthy of soe sacred dignitites, and noe cause could they find against me that might in the least deserve the paines of death, but merely for my funcon of priesthood wherein they have proceeded against me in all pointes cruelly contrarie to their own lawes..and I doe injoin you (Deere Christian Brethren) to manifest the same to the world and also to beare witness on the Day of Judgment of my Innocent death, which I indure for my function and profession of the most holy Catholick Faith."

Here's what the Catholic Encyclopedia of 1913 had to say about the good Archbishop:

"Archbishop of Cashel, Ireland; died 19-29 June, 1584. His father, William O'Hurley of Lickadoon, near Limerick, a man of substance and standing, holding land under the Earl of Desmond, secured him a liberal education on the continent. He took his doctorate in utroque jure, taught first at Louvain and then at Reims, and afterwards went to Rome. Appointed Archbishop of Cashel by Gregory XIII, he was consecrated on 11 September, 1581, per saltum, not having previously taken priesthood. Two years later he landed at Drogheda, stayed a short time with the Baron of Slane, and proceeded for his diocese, expecting protection from the Earl of Ormonde. Loftus, Protestant Archbishop of Dublin, and Sir Henry Wallop, then lords justices, having secret information, so intimidated Lord Slane that he hastened to Munster and brought back his guest. The archbishop was committed to Dublin Castle in October, 1583, while the justices, dreading Ormonde's resentment and his influence with Queen Elizabeth [boo], obtained authority to use torture, hoping that he would inform against the Earl of Kildare and Lord Delvin. Still apprehensive, they suggested as Dublin was unprovided with rack, that their prisoner could be better schooled in the Tower of London. Walsingham replied by bidding them toast his feet in hot boots over a fire. The barbarous suggestion was adopted, and early in March, 1584, the archbishop's legs were thrust into boots filled with oil and salt, beneath which a fire was kindled. Some groans of agony were wrung from the victim, and he cried aloud, "Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me!," but rejected every proposal to abandon his religion. Ultimately he swooned away, and fearing his death, the torturers removed him; as the boots were pulled off, the flesh was stripped from his bones. In this condition he was returned to prison, and the Justices again sought instructions from England, reporting what had been done, and intimating the lawyer's opinion that no charge of treason could be sustained in Irish law against Dr. O'Hurley. Walsingham, having consulted the queen [boo], wrote back her approval of the torture, and her authority to dispatch the archbishop by martial law. He was secretly taken out at dawn, and hanged with a withe on the gibbet near St. Stephen's Green, 19-29 June, 1584. His body was buried by some friends in St. Kevin's churchyard.
CHARLES MCNEILL"

Hurleys in Ireland - More Info

This is quite an interesting website if, like me, you are a Hurley:

Link:
The Hurley Family Tree

Not least because it tells us that:

"Ballinacarriga [tower house - but look, it's a castle to me!] was built in 1585 by Randal Hurley (Muirhily)"

and

"In 1631 Randal died and was succeeded by his son Randal Oge, who was one of the first to take up arms in the rebellion of 1641. One of the most interesting aspects of the Hurley Family is that the women fought alongside their men-folk, up to and including 1641, the family was indicted of high treason following that rising, was outlawed and lost everything."

Riches to rags. That sounds typical!

But then there's:

"Dermot O'Hurly, Archbishop of Cashel, suffered martydom in Dublin,

THE HURLEY CHALICE,
St Mary's Catholic Cathedral, Cork.
and was buried in St. Kevin's Church, where his body bore the repute of many miracles."

Could the Hurleys have their own Saint...

Does Beery Obesity have a Positive side?

In this age of binge drinking, alcho-pops and the associated anti-social behaviour, one wonders if a beery diet can ever be a positive thing, especially in light of the obesity endemic, which seems to worsen with every newspaper headline read.

With drunkards fighting policemen in Cardiff's St Mary's Street and Swansea's Wind Street, and the impact on the NHS of beer-related injuries (in A&E) and the long-term health effects of obesity... there can't be much of a plus side can there?

Well aside from the education bestowed on anyone who will listen by "fat bloke down the pub" on almost any subject, which invariably turns out to be completely factual regardless of what common sense might dictate (viz 'dogs can't look up' from the film Sean of the Dead), there may be one plus side of the dual assault on taste and decency.

As many people seek to save carbon footprints for some obscure reason, the money saved making tables for pubs and the home by employing fat blokes can only help the whole world, and provide gainful employment in these straitened times. Perhaps Brains beer might pay for suitable advertising (akin to beer mats)? We could even save the rain forests.

Al Gore will be pleased!


P.S. For any worried readers the above gent, contrary to evidence to the alternative, is not a relative.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Is Kinsale Lager Hangover Proof?


Here's a message for Old Pa Hurley.

Put down that Brains SA! It's time to turn to the evil side of drinking!

Lager.

The thought sends shivers down the spine of all real beer lovers.

But the story goes that Kinsale Lager is chemical free and so you can drink it to your heart's content without getting a hangover... or is that a clever ploy by their marketing department?

I'm in a quandary now.

Lager - yuch. Kinsale - good. Hangover - bad.

Hmmmm. What to do?

I will have to track down some Kinsale Lager and report back.

Kinsale 1601, Spanish Armada, Charles Fort & the Plantation of Ulster

Frank Hurley, Famous Australian Photographer

Many years ago I was pottering in a charity shop when I came across a book entitled "Victoria, a Camera Study by Frank Hurley." I had to buy it - so I did. I forked over £1 (no doubt tears welling in my eyes).

The book details much of the history and nature of Victoria in Australia, including I was pleasantly surprised the Eureka Stockade, the scene of a heroic rebellion in 1854 from which we get the Eureka banner, similar to Irish banners, based on star constellations. Professor Geoffrey Blainey said the Eureka flag was an "Irish Cross."

Wikipedia says of Frank Hurley:
James Francis "Frank" Hurley, OBE (15 October 1885 – 16 January 1962) was an Australian photographer and adventurer. He participated in a number of expeditions to Antarctica and served as an official photographer with Australian forces during both world wars.
From the same source, re. Shackleton's explorations:

He later compiled his records into the documentary film South in 1919. His footage was also used in the 2001 IMAX film Shackleton's Antarctic Adventure.
Links:
Frank Hurley website
Victoria by Frank Hurley

The Tulloch Family and Royal Scotland

My wife's family on the paternal side are the Tullochs and they hail from Orkney and its environs, traditionally ruled by Norse Earls and gifted to Scotland as a dowry!

Some years back my wife's Auntie (now decamped to New England) traced the Tulloch family tree through two branches.

One was the Graham Family Tree which goes through many Lords and Earls in the House of Montrose to William de Graeme 1125-1139.

Some of the ancestors include:
  • Sir Patrick, 1st Lord Graham 1444 AD.
  • Bishop George Graham of Dunblane (17th Century)
  • George Graham, 2nd Laird of Inchbrakie married Hon. Marjory Rollo, daughter of the 1st Earl Rollo (16th Century).

Now the Rollo family have famous Norse connections in Scandinavia, Normandy, England and Scotland. Clan Rollo fought at the Battle of Flodden Field in 1513.

Another branch of the family was the Stewart Line of the Watt Family which goes through many Earls and Kings to King Robert I, aka Robert the Bruce.

Some of the ancestors include:
  • James IV of Scotland who married Margaret Tudor
  • Sir Robert Stewart of Strathdon, 1st Earl of Orkney, Abbot of Holyrood Abbey, half-brother of Mary Queen of Scots.
 Here is the chart of the Scottish Royal family showing Robert the Bruce and his descendants down to Mary Queen of Scots:

Our youngest, born in Wick, Caithness, is a fanatic Scotland fan whenever the 6 Nations is on. Perhaps Robert I of Scotland would approve.

Saturday, 9 October 2010

William Wallace Was Welsh

Cymru Am Byth? Wallace the Welshman
I have long told anyone who will listen of the Welshness of St Patrick.

You see, the Briton (i.e. Welshman) Patrick was captured and taken to Ireland as a slave, where he (to cut a long story short) later returned as a Priest to convert the Irish.

Well, now I can add another national hero to my long list of Welsh heroes: William Wallace!

The name Wallace means 'Welshman' and as the link below shows, the Kingdom of Strathclyde and the Cumbrians spoke a dialect of, or a language akin to Welsh.

When Strathclyde was 'absorbed' into Scotland many of the ruling class moved down to Wales and were known as the 'Men of the North' and even today many Cumbrians share genes with the Welsh.

I knew that the Irish name Walsh meant 'Welsh' but had no idea of the name Wallace meaning the same in Scotland.

So there we have it: the Welsh gave Christianity and the Catholic heritage to Ireland, and the Welsh gave freedom and nationhood to Scotland!

It's a great time to be Welsh! ;-)

Link: The Cumbric Language

U-Boat Attack off Kinsale: The Sinking of the Lusitania

German U-boat U20 on May 7th 1915 sank the ship RMS Lusitania. The ship sank in 18 minutes, eight miles (15 km) off the Old Head of Kinsale, Ireland, killing 1,198 of the 1,959 people aboard.

The Lusitania departed New York on 1 May 1915. The German Embassy in Washington had issued this warning on 22 April
Notice!
Travellers intending to embark on the Atlantic voyage are reminded that a state of war exists between Germany and her allies and Great Britain and her allies; that the zone of war includes the waters adjacent to the British Isles; that, in accordance with formal notice given by the Imperial German Government, vessels flying the flag of Great Britain, or any of her allies, are liable to destruction in those waters and that travellers sailing in the war zone on the ships of Great Britain or her allies do so at their own risk.
Imperial German Embassy
Washington, D.C. 22nd April 1915


The sinking of the ship turned many against Germany and is said to have contributed to the entry of the USA into the war on the Allied side in 1917.

Remember that during WW1 Ireland was still a unified country and was still absorbed into the United Kingdom (recruiting for the British Army occurred throughout Ireland) whereas after 1921 (and so in WW2) the Irish Free State (the Republic) existed with Northern Ireland separated to stay within the UK.

In 1915 therefore Kinsale and its environs were, officially, "British."

This is a modern re-enactment of the sinking:


Friday, 8 October 2010

St Margaret's of Antioch, Roath, Cardiff

The Churches of Roath, the area of Cardiff where I grew up are -- like so many if we take time off to look at them -- full of history and beauty.

A church on the site of St Margaret of Antioch's dates back to 1100. Despite the white-washers and vandals of the Reformation, much has lasted or been restored in a traditional style (note the vicars belonged to the Oxford Movement - the 'Anglo-Catholic' group at one time led by the future Cardinal Newman, and the Marquess of Bute who had the church rebuilt was himself a Catholic).

As their website says:

The church of St Margaret of Antioch, the parish church of Roath, Cardiff, is an interesting one. 
There was a chapel here – ‘the Chapel of Raht’ – soon after 1100, founded by the Norman Lord Robert Fitzhamon, as a Chapel of Ease to his Priory Church of St Mary in Cardiff. A little whitewashed building, thick-walled and low, served the needs of this ancient hamlet, inhabited since Roman times, and now, for the Normans, the home farm for the castle, its pastures supplying meat, fish, butter and cheese.
Click to enlarge
St Mary’s and its chapels were given by Fitzhamon to his monastic foundation of Tewkesbury Abbey, which provided clergy, wine and wax to the chapel of Roath until the Reformation, and in return received its tithes. The ghost of a long-dead Benedictine chaplain is said to haunt the church to this day! 

In 1766, John Stuart, son of former Prime Minister the Earl of Bute, married Charlotte Jane Windsor, the heiress to the Welsh lands of the Herbert family. Through this marriage he acquired Cardiff Castle and vast tracts of land throughout Glamorgan. In 1792, he bought a parcel of land called the Friars Estate, which included the living of the Parish of Roath, and when his wife Charlotte died in 1800, he built a family burial chapel or mausoleum here, adjoining the chancel of the church, and with space for 48 coffins. This was intended to be the resting place of his family for generations to come.

In 1839, the second Marquess of Bute, his grandson, opened Cardiff’s first dock, and this, together with the canal and the railway, led to Cardiff’s becoming a major port, the iron and coal of the Glamorgan valleys exported all over the world. The local population boomed as a result of this industrial growth, and the little church in Roath was by then too small to cater for the needs of the people.

In 1868, the old church was demolished and the third Marquess, now aged 21 and a Roman Catholic, brought in local architect John Prichard, restorer of Llandaff Cathedral, to build a state-of-the-art Gothic church. The new church opened, to great acclaim, in 1870, though without Prichard’s planned tower and spire.
Click to enlarge
Ten years later, the Marquess rebuilt the Mausoleum, incorporating it into the body of the church. Because of the family’s Catholicism, no further burials took place.

In the later years of the 19th century, Roath was a flagship parish in the Anglican Communion, staffed by young energetic clergy inspired by the Oxford Movement, and taking Word and Sacrament to the people of this corner of Cardiff, ‘more like a colonial town than anywhere else in Britain’!
Click to enlarge
Fr FW Puller brought in leading architect GF Bodley to build the beautiful daughter church of St German’s, and its school and clergy house. His successor, Charles Smythies, a great favourite with the working men, went on to become Bishop of East Africa, where he died labouring in the mission field. Schools and churches sprang up in Roath at this time, some of which have now closed. But St Margaret’s is still the mother church of the parish, with, today, St Anne’s (1887) and St Edward’s (1915) as its daughter churches.


Tour of the Church

From outside the church looks rather plain, its dark grey Pennant sandstone topped by a stumpy tower, raised as a War Memorial in 1926. The surrounding churchyard, though full to capacity, has lost most of its gravestones, in a 1969 attempt to ‘tidy it up’! But the churchyard wall survives, parts of it dating from medieval times, much older than the building it surrounds.
Click to enlarge
A capacious south porch leads into the nave, ‘a glorious polychromatic interior’ said John Betjeman, in the Victorian fashion of many colours within the brick and stonework. The massive crossing has four different types of stone, including much pink Penarth alabaster, also used for the pulpit and chancel screen.
Click to enlarge
The chancel, though with modern choir stalls, shows much of Prichard’s work, in the south arcade, sedilia and mysterious carved heads. A great east window from 1952 [the original stained glass was destroyed by bomb blast damage in WW2] depicts the Ascension in white and gold, flanked by the patron saints of the daughter churches of that time. It was commissioned post war through the energetic efforts of Revd. Gwynno James, the Vicar.
Click to enlarge          Click to enlarge
Below the window is the carved and gilded Reredos, by the famous Ninian Comper, showing the Risen Christ and his 12 Apostles. To the north, arches with lavishly carved capitals lead into the church’s unique feature, the Bute Mausoleum.
Rebuilt in the 1880’s, this chapel is a deluxe version of the style of the church, with profuse foliage carving, a brick vault and a beautiful mosaic of Christ in Majesty high on the west wall.
Click to enlarge      Click to enlarge
Beneath, lie nine members of the Bute family, including the first Marquess and his two wives, buried in triple coffins, pitch-sealed, within massive red Peterhead polished granite tombs, their style similar to that of the tombs of the Tzars in St Petersburg. This unique Victorian funerary chapel is the only Bute burial site in Wales.
Click to enlarge
St. Margaret’s has enjoyed a long fine musical tradition, and in the mid 50s was the first Parish Choir (i.e. non Cathedral ) ever to sing ‘Choral Evensong’ on BBC Radio 3 (then called the Third Programme) with phone lines temporarily installed for the Outside Broadcast.

The fine pipe organ was originally a 3-manual built by Bevington & Sons, but was raised into an organ loft to create the space below for a choir vestry by Hill Norman & Beard and re-built as a 2-manual in the early 1950s. In 2008 it was further updated by conversion to digital logic and switching.

To be ready to celebrate the Millennium, in 1999 St Margaret’s installed floodlighting as part of a national scheme to floodlight churches, and received partial sponsorship of the capital cost from the Millennium Commission. The running costs are met by church members donating each week in celebration or memory of family events or loved ones.
Click to enlarge
Today, St Margaret’s has a growing, all-age congregation, a lively Sunday School and choir, and groups catering for all ages. The church with its adjacent gardens has always been, and still is, very popular for weddings. (Indeed it could sometimes reach as many as 9 weddings per Saturday: a nice pocket-money earner for the boy Sopranos of earlier choirs!)
Click to enlarge
The church will soon be open to visitors on Wednesday mornings between 10 and 12 noon. Every year on Heritage Weekend, crowds of people come, for a warm welcome, for a guided tour of the church, to climb the tower with panoramic views as far as the Severn bridges, and to sample delicious homemade refreshments.