22 July 2013


Remember little Alexa - born in Bangkok at Christmastime? Well yesterday was a special day for her - a welcome into the Baptist Church - something like a Christening but without water. This happened in the Birmingham suburb of Bearwood. It was nice to see the little princess again - see how she's growing with her parents, friends, family and church congregation around her. Such events predate Christianity.

On Saturday night I stayed in the "Holiday Inn" near Junction 7 of the M6 following another marvellous  walk. This time I had been rambling over Cannock Chase south of Stafford. It is an area of mixed countryside - heathland and woods covering thousands of square acres. It has a rich history - once a royal hunting ground and much later a vast military base containing training camps and hospitals - linked to both world wars.

Shall I recall the grave of Freda the Dalmatian - mascot of the New Zealand Rifles in 1918, or the Polish Katyn Memorial to those thousands of soldiers killed by Stalinists in a Polish forest in 1940? Or shall I recall the deer I surprised in a quiet glen near Coppice Hill? Perhaps the Commonwealth War Graves cemetery at Broadhurst Green or the huge manmade sandbanks where soldiers trained before heading off to be slaughtered in the trenches of northern France?

No, I believe I'll remember the German Cemetery where the remains of thousands of young Germans lie - brought to Cannock Chase from all over the British Isles - victims of both World War I and World War II. Forgotten parachutists, prisoners of war, enemies who died in military hospitals, spies, men washed up on beaches, the crews of two Zeppelin airships etc.. They lie together in a quiet corner of Cannock Chase - far from any houses or villages, far from Deutschland silently sleeping with their unrealised dreams, their lost years. And for what? Wars are made by leaders who hardly ever fight or die in action. It's ordinary people who bear the brunt of the lunacy:-
Grave of two unnamed soldiers in the German Cemetery at Cannock Chase
General view of the German Cemetery
The shared grave of  Musketeer  Robert Huhner and Sergeant
Willy Petersen - randomly chosen  German victims of World War One.
May they all rest in peace and help to remind leaders of nations that there must be other ways to solve conflicts. War is not the way.


  1. 'Wars are made by leaders who hardly ever fight or die in action. It's ordinary people who bear the brunt of the lunacy:-'
    So true!

  2. "something like a Christening but without water"

    In the Baptist church it's called a "baby dedication" at which time prayers are made and the parents promise to raise the child "in the nurture and admonition of the Lord" -- very similar to what the more sacramental churches do at a Christening or Infant Baptism, except the child is not received into the Church. That comes later, after a profession of faith. Credo-baptists are a stubborn lot, as are paedo-baptists, and I think never the twain shall meet. Except possibly in Heaven. Or Hell.

    The Germans in the cemetery and their enemy counterparts who lie elsewhere experienced Hell while they were alive.

  3. What a beautiful place. I looked at those pictures of those gravestones and I wondered.....just with those few victims of war buried there....what could those men have accomplished in their lives if allowed to live beyond their twenties or thirties....what discoveries could they have made....how would they have helped others....what kind of good fathers and great grandfathers would they have been....and the mothers and fathers and families that they left behind....how were their lives forever changed by not knowing where this person was....and the country that they fought for....how much good could have been done by spending the money used for war and armement on children or infrastructure or schools or research of diseases or...

    Just what I thought of while looking at those sad pieces of stone on that beautiful slope of ground.

  4. The second photograph is actually a memorial to two forgotten, unbedankte, unthanked, German soldiers.

    For reasons I shan’t go into now, my brothers and I endured our first introduction to the English at Chase Terrace Comprehensive School. New legislation by the Labour Government dictated that we should attend this school.

    There, we discovered that the bored sons of miners destined to leave school at sixteen were tired of Paki Bashing so on our arrival invented Nazzi Bashing.

    The only hours of peace and quiet my brothers and I enjoyed were spent on Cannock Chase in this very cemetery where we sat, me as the oldest usually very bloodied having protected my brothers from the English, wishing to hell we were back in Germany.

    Can you imagine what it was like scurrying down the street clutching the hands of your frightened younger brothers hurrying them along knowing that at any minute you could be pounced upon by a gang of England's finest and have the shit kicked out of you?

    You have no idea what that cemetery mens to us or what long buried memories of mine you have just unearthed.

    As usual, great photograghy. I wish I couild be as good.

  5. JENNY John and Yoko were right - Give Peace a Chance!
    CAROL IN CHAINS Are you referring to my manly physique?
    RHYMES WITH PLAGUE Thank you oh holy father for informing my ignorance. As you know, religion isn't something I normally indulge in. I prefer football. Baptist suggests baptism - the clue is surely in the name.
    MOUNTAIN THYME As usual your thoughts are in harmony with mine - that sense of lost potential. So tragic.

  6. HIPPO I am so pleased that accidentally I brought back mixed memories of childhood for you. Please be assured that if I had been a prefect in your old school I would have protected you from the mindless bullies. But you are right - I do have no idea of the hurt you must have felt back then. And I had no idea that you knew Cannock Chase long before me.

  7. I barely remember any history about WWI so can't comment on that. WWII, I don't see how it could have been avoided.

    Certainly most if not all wars since could have been avoided. Still we don't live in a world where all men can be reasoned with. I think it is simply a fact of life that some evil can only be stopped with force. And if it is not stopped could we really live with something like the holocaust on world wide scale?

  8. DAVID OLIVER Fighting the Nazis was a just cause but we must surely examine the reasons why a civilised country like Germany spawned such evil. Perhaps the international community was partly responsible for the conditions in which the evil grew. Most wars seem to reach the realisation that talking and compromise are the only meaningful exit routes.

  9. I adore walking through graveyards like those
    Moving, thoughtful.......and it always makes me feel grateful

  10. Ah, now I understand. Yes, no doubt some of our actions have either led to war or at least engendered hatred of us. And that's the beginning...


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