When I am sorting through the thousands of books donated to the village festivities, there are always some I hoick out because I think they might be worth something.
We sell all the paperbacks for 50p and the hardbacks for £2 – whatever the subject or size of the book.
Well, some books are just worth more than that and I am not going to let them go for next to nothing.
(Which reminds me, we have a woman and her mother who come every year to the bookstall and they, every year, complain that we charge too much. ‘Give over and don’t come next year’ are the polite end of what I want to say to her.)
As you will know if you have read the previous blog, donations of books come in thick and fast and we don’t keep track of who donated what so we take it as it comes.
Anyway, I had a pile of books which needed checking and indeed the rather rare Heath Robinson book is worth about £60 and my ever-so-slightly eagle eye for the niche books which are only printed in small quantities and are therefore valuable, paid off when I discovered that ‘Four Centuries of Liege Gunmaking’ is worth about £75.
A rare early guide book to Palma was also worth a bit and ‘The Mechanical World Pocket Diary and Year Book 1914’ is also worth a darn sight more than £2.
But it was the book called ‘The Roll of Honour 1916’ that this story is about. Everyone killed in the war that year was listed with their photograph and a small biography (and there was one such book produced for eery year of WWI.)
WWI memorabilia is very popular and it being the 100th year, I thought I would easily sell it on eBay and split the proceeds between the village festivities and Oxfam.
So, I listed it and I have to admit that I listed it wrongly, so instead of starting the bidding at £10 and hoping to make £30 or £40, I mistakenly listed it as ‘buy it now’. Indeed, someone did – within about 10 minutes.
But, dear patient reader, this is just the preamble to the real story here – so please bear with me.
Whilst I was flicking through the Roll of Honour book to check it was intact, no internal markings or pages ripped out, some paperwork fell out.
As usual I was cooking supper, making a list of things to do, checking emails etc etc and so I handed the bits of paper to my best beloved and asked him to check what they were.
He said, one was the commission for a soldier as a 2nd lieutenant. When I looked later, the next was a letter from the War Office saying where he was buried. The third was a postcard with a sketch on the front of the cemetery, and a description of the grave and its surroundings on the back.
It really makes you stop and think when you find something like that and I was wondering who it was who had made their way to the cemetery where ‘ The big grave under the apple tree is Captain Taylor, Scots Guards & is the only marble cross at present in the cemetery and is a good guide. ‘
The X on the drawing ‘Is his grave directly inside the little gate. The three near trees are all apple trees.’
I then looked at the commission which is a large and formal document which says,’ You are therefore carefully and diligently to discharge your Duty as such in the Rank of 2nd Lieutentant or in such higher Rank as We may from time to time hereafter be pleased to promote or appoint you to, of which notification will be made in the London Gazette and you are at all times to exercise and well discipline in Arms the inferior Officers and Men serving under you and use your best endeavours to keep them in good Order and Discipline. And We do hereby Command them to Obey you as their superior Officer and you to observe and follow such Orders and Directions as from time to time you shall receive from Us or any superior Officer according to the Rules and Discipline of War in pursuance of the Trust hereby reposed in you.’
It is dated October 3rd 1914.
He died on May 9th 1915
On November 20th 1916, his father was sent a letter saying he was buried at ‘ Le Trou, about two miles south of Fluerbaix. The grave has been registered in this office, and is marked by a durable wooden cross bearing full particulars.’
This 2nd lieutenant played test cricket for Somerset. Also, he played rugby and hockey. The has a Wikkipedia page. He had no links with Sussex and lived in Somerset all his life.
His name was Frederick Cecil Banes Walker.
Not a common name.
My neighbour is called Banes Walker.
So, of course, I went round with the commission, and my neighbour said Frederick Cecil Banes Walker was his uncle.
I have no idea who donated the book with these pieces of paper tucked inside.
No idea why they were here in Sussex.