Thursday, 24 May 2018

The Sad State of Some War Memorial Gravestones in Barnsley Cemetery

Since March this year a kind Barnsley volunteer named Wayne Bywater has been walking around Ardsley and Barnsley Cemeteries photographing war memorial gravestones. He submits these to the Barnsley War Memorials Project (BWMP) and via Twitter to me. My file of his photos contains 103 images!  The Barnsley War Memorial Project now have records of 112 war memorial gravestones in Barnsley Cemetery alone, but sadly many of these are in very poor condition. Without volunteers like Wayne these memorials may not ever have been recorded and in a few years many could crumble away as if they never existed.
Wayne's helper Alicia applying a dusting of soft chalk to a gravestone to aid in photography
(photo from Twitter on 28 April 2018)
The Imperial War Museum's War Memorials' Archive defines a War Memorial as "any tangible object which has been erected or dedicated to commemorate those killed as a result of war, conflict or peacekeeping; who served in war or conflict; or who died whilst engaged in military service."  This includes gravestones which commemorate a casualty buried elsewhere.  There must be a clear statement on the memorial (or in a printed document such as a newspaper report from the time) that defines the commemorative purpose of the feature and reports its erection. Thus gravestones which include wording such as: died of wounds received in action, killed in action, fell in France, died on active service, reported missing in action, or even killed accidentally while on active service all count as War Memorials.  The wording is a "clear statement" that the purpose of recording that person's name on the gravestone is as a memorial.

Yesterday I saved Wayne's latest photographs to my files. They included these photos
All credit to Wayne for spotting the significant wording on this pile of broken stones.

Three of the corners of the grave kerb edging have broken away and are lying down. There appears to be an inscription on both long sides and one end.

Zooming in on this photo I can see that Ann Outwin is commemorated on the right and Elsie on the left. As both inscriptions start with the word 'Also' I think there should have been an inscription at the top of this plot as well.
Wayne also provided a close up of the relevant war memorial part of the inscription.
"Also Herbert ... who was ...
Killed in France Nov 20th 1917
... ed ... Years"

That "Killed in France" and the date is what makes this a War Memorial.

It is only by combining the information from all the inscriptions that we can work out that Herbert's surname was Outwin.

I looked up these names in an index to the burials in Barnsley Cemetery (available from Barnsley Archives) and found that Ann and Elsie Outwin were buried in plot M 826 in Barnsley Cemetery. Ann was 78 years old when she died in 1926, Elsie was 50 in 1941. Also in the plot are Ethel who died aged 9 months in 1890 and James who died in 1921 aged 78. I assume from this that Ann and James were Herbert's parents and that Ethel and Elsie were his sisters.

Herbert's name rang a bell with me and I looked him up on the BWMP master spreadsheet. He was 37 years old when he was killed in action on 20 November 1917. He is buried in Flesquieres Hill British Cemetery in France. His wife was called Jane and she lived on Eldon Street North. He is mentioned on the Barnsley St Mary's War Memorial and he is mentioned twice in the Barnsley Chronicle during the years indexed by the BWMP volunteers. 

I have started to add more information to Herbert's Life Story on Lives of the First World War. This site is free use if you want to browse and add photos and free text family stories to your relatives. You only hit the paywall if you want to access the military and historical records provided and, *handy hint* these are available free of charge in Barnsley (Ancestry) and Sheffield (Find My Past) libraries.

I was sure there was something else about this man so I also searched for the name Outwin in my husband's family tree. Sure enough he appears there, married to the sister of the wife of my husband's great, great uncle Thomas Croft (of 'Daring Escape from Holland' fame). Thomas's wife was Matilda Dutton, older sister of Jane. Herbert and Jane had at least six children, Herbert b.1907, Ernest b.1908, George b.1909, Harold b.1910, Leonard b.1912 and Gladys b. 1916.  Jane also came from a large family, as she and Matilda were the youngest of at least nine children born to George and Eliza Dutton in Monk Bretton. 

Between the Outwins and the Duttons there must be lots of descendants and relatives of Herbert still living in Barnsley. The care of gravestones falls to the owners of the graves and their next of kin according to Barnsley Council. They are not the responsibility of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission or the War Memorials Trust. Please could someone take responsibility for this grave and show Herbert the respect he deserves. 

This is not the only damaged and poorly maintained grave plot in Barnsley Cemetery. If you are lucky enough to have a family memorial of any kind (and in my husband's family many of his ancestors were too poor to buy a stone and are buried in unmarked grassy plots) then it would be nice if we could care for them.

Lest We Forget.


Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Lack of Support for Blue Badge Applications

This is the letter I sent to my MP Stephanie Peacock, the Barnsley MP Dan Jarvis, and the Cudworth councillors Steve Houghton, Joe Hayward and Charlie Wraith today.

Dear Sirs and Ms Peacock,

I have a Blue Badge. It is due for renewal in July. Several years ago, when I was first awarded PIP I was able to get an appointment at Cudworth Library with a helpful lady who photocopied my PIP letters, my proof of Address & ID and my photo. She filled in the form for me and sent it into the proper department.

Yesterday I was in the queue in Cudworth Library. The gentleman in front of me, who was enquiring on behalf of a relative, asked about getting help to renew a Blue Badge. The librarian apologised but said applications had to be done online now. The man explained that he had no computer skills, even if he came into Cudworth to use a library machine he would need help. Then he stormed out saying he would (swear word) pay for parking in future.

I was next, and as this had reminded me that I needed to renew my badge I asked for more information. I was told that their support service had been (or was about to be) taken away from the library. However it might be possible to find someone to help a customer use a computer in the library. I imagine this would have to be an appointment as they have very few staff.

I have computer skills, as you can see. I came home and looked at the online site.
The site did not tell you all the documents you needed before you started the process or explain that they needed to be scanned or digital images.

The process could be stopped and saved to continue later.

The Barnsley Council website  gives no other option but to engage with the site.

Please take note that I am concerned for other Blue Badge holders and potential Blue Badge holders in Cudworth and area as well as myself. I have computer skills but I know that most people my age (57) and older do not.

It took me nearly three quarters of an hour to complete the online process. I had to stop the process to find and photograph my driving licence, I had to stop the process to photograph my PIP letter, I had to get my husband to take a photo of me with his phone and then get it to my computer so I could attach that. I had to use the PIP letter as proof of address as all our utility bills are in my husband's name and anyway they are paperless these days.

This is a long and complicated process for someone with computer skills. Someone who can't even operate a mobile phone has no hope.

It seems the administration will take six to eight weeks ... I am on the limit of that now as my current badge runs out on 19 July. There was no warning about this on either site and I have not received a reminder letter, which was alluded to at the start of the online form.

The Council site says you have to pay £10 in advance and put a number in a box on the form. There is no such box on the online form, so I can only assume this refers to the old paper form.

I tweeted about my concerns last night and got an answer this morning. I was told to ring "the Blue Badge team on 01226 773555, who can provide guidance. For example, they could make an appointment at one of our libraries for assistance with IT."

I rang the number. I was on hold for 31 minutes being #9 in the queue initially. Finally a lady spoke to me. She confirmed that Cudworth Library could no longer give support with Blue Badge Applications and suggested I go to Central Library, Wombwell, Goldthorpe, Mapplewell or Hoyland. I explained that I am disabled, I no longer travel alone, can't manage bus rides by myself, am not allowed to drive, it would mean a long taxi ride with my elderly mum-in-law for support, there and back. She eventually offered to send out a paper form. When pressed she confessed that their paper forms were in limited supply and that when they ran out there would be no more. So if I get one I will post it back for someone else to use! There was no mention of an appointment with someone in Cudworth Library who might be able to help with the IT side of things.

I would like to appeal to you, Stephanie, Dan, Steve, Joe and Charlie, to reinstate support at Cudworth Library for Blue Badge applicants. Facilities to help with scanning documents to digital and taking photos of customers are essential. Help for the elderly and less able with engaging with the complex online form is essential. Prior notice and clear information needs to be given to applicants about what documents they need to apply so they don't need to make multiple trips to the Library. Imagine if I had gone to the Central Library in town, for an appointment, but not know I needed proof of ID and address as well as my PIP letter and photo.

Please take some action on this matter.


Linda Hutton
[email address redacted for this post ... contact me via Comments below or via Twitter]