- Contributed by
- People in story:
- Muriel Harker Epple Bay Road, Birchington
- Location of story:
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 11 May 2004
This story was submmited to the People's Ware site by Judith Brewer of the Country Heritage Team on behalf of Muriel Harker and has been added to the site with her permission. The author fully understands the site's terms and conditions.
I was married at tne end of 1939 to Lieutenant Edward Moscrop we were both 22. My husband was in the Coldstream Guards a 2nd Leuitenant 11th Battalion in the Durham Light Infantry. In Durham he was training miners as conscripts.
He was posted to France leaving me behind and pregnant with my daughter Edwina who was born in October 1940. His letters were censored so we had a code system, dates and names known only to us, so I knew where he was. He and his batman, Private Raymond Davidson who was 19, went to try and find out what was happening. Early on the morning of May 21st they left in search of Brigade HQ because everything was so chaotic. They hid in a wood and he told his men that if he wasn't back by 4 pm they would know he wasn't coming back. He didn't come back. It was decided that as many of the men as possible should try to get through to Souchez. I received a letter saying he was missing believed killed. But I never believed he was killed. Then in 1943 I had a letter from the War Office to say his body had been found with another young man in a field by a farmer ploughing the field and they were buried in a little private cemetry. But this wasn't exactly true.
I tried to find out why he was buried in this little cemetry but nobody knew. But 50 years later Birchington was twinned with La Chappelle and I joined an organisation and went over and stayed with a family. I was hoping that I would be able to get to the grave. I told the French family and they said they would take me. So we got up very early Sunday morning (50 years to the day since he had been killed) and found it, a village Chelers about 14 miles north-west of Arras, after an hour and quarter in a car. Sadly I couldn't get any flowers for the grave as it was Sunday and the shops weren't open and the locality was just a church, a little cemetry and a cottage. We couldn't get into the church as it was locked. We were just getting in the car to go home when a lady came out of the cottage and came over towards us. The couple I was with explained to her the reason we were there. A man then came round the corner and gave me a bunch of flowers which I was able to leave on the grave. I was completely lost in the conversation as it was all in French. When I returned to La Chappelle I had to find someone who could interpret for me. The interpreter turned out to be someone who lived five minutes from me in Birchington! I discovered that this family, a brother and sister, Waucheuse, had known my husband and had seen him killed and saw his body in a field. They had asked the Germans if they could bury his body in the local cemetry which they did. And they had looked after his grave for the next 50 years. About 15 years' ago I went to Durham Cathdral and by another coincidence the Memorial Book was open at my husband's name. The same thing happened to our daughter Edwina in York Minster.
When the war was finished the War Office suggested his body was moved to a large communial cemetry in France but the family said no as they had always looked after it.
I would love to know if the families of the other three buried there Trooper S S Bright and Gunner G J J Smart as well as Private R Davidson have any more information.
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