Introduction by Andy Andrews - first published 2007
This booklet came out of a chance conversation with Alan Moore as he was conducting his daily run past my house. His thoughts regarding the young men commemorated on the war memorial prompted me to suggest that he research them for an article in the Occold ORACLE : but his military researches rapidly outgrew a mere article.
The Great War (later to be known as the 1st World War) killed a greater proportion of England's manhood than any since the English Civil War (1642 -1645). As well as the fifteen men named on the Occold War Memorial at least another nine Occold born men are commemorated elsewhere. In a village of around 100 households this must have been utterly devastating. Occold has probably not seen anything like it before, except possibly from disease, and hopefully never will again.
A large number of Occold's WWI deaths were as a result of the ‘Battle of the Somme', the ninetieth anniversary of which has been widely commemorated this year. This has been brought out in time for this years Eleventh hour - of the eleventh day - of the eleventh month but it is only a start in cataloguing and understanding these momentous events in the life of our village.
It needs further research into the social context of these events particularly the remaining memories of our oldest citizens and the soldiers' descendants and it needs Barry Woods' speciality - genealogy. Perhaps we should aim for the ninetieth anniversary of peace 11/11/2008 to complete this task.
And then there's WWII ……..
The story that unravels from Alan's researches often takes on elements of deja vue. Nathaniel Augustus Cook is commemorated at Basra (1) in southern Iraq; whilst in recent years young soldiers who grew up in Occold have again served in that theatre of war (2) .
One of Dawn Crisp's predecessors, George Hammond, died from wounds received at Salonika (3) in WWI; whilst my father finished his service in WWII digging out corpses of German sentries, killed by the Greek resistance, from the drains of Radio Salonica.
It seemed like no time from Torvil & Dean's Sarajevo triumph on the ice (with Ravel's Bolero); to the nightly news of ethnic war in that trigger point of WWI. It makes one wonder whether mankind ever learns from its mistakes.
Occold Parish Council thought it appropriate that we should more personally commemorate these sons of Occold and mourn their untimely loss. They have therefore funded this publication.
Military history by Alan Moore
Additional narrative by Andy Andrews
Additional web site and geneaology material by Barry Woods
Production assistant - Chris Brown
Funding - Occold Parish Council
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(1) Known as Mesopotamia & ruled by Turkey as three provinces from the cities of Mosul, Baghdad & Basra
(2) Including, I believe, an ex-Occold girl soldier; what a contrast with the silly young things handing out white feathers to any man out of uniform in 1914-15
(3) Now known as Thessalonica, Greece both nearby Bulgaria & Turkey were in alliance with Germany