‘Retrieving Wenty’s Sturty Bird’

The Story of Bream Cenotaph 1921-2001
By Ian Hendy

The intriguing title of this book leads to the first of many stories relating to those who lived in and around the village of Bream in the Forest of Dean and who gave their lives for their country – and, no, I do not intend to reveal here the story behind the title! I hope you will buy your own copy or request your local library to purchase one for you and others to read as all proceeds from the sale of the book will be going to the Bream Cenotaph Restoration Fund.

At first glance, a book about a Cenotaph would seem a little dull but this is far from the case. By taking the names recorded on the monument, of the local men and women, not all necessarily born within the village of Bream, who died in the First or Second World Wars, and discovering details about them and their families, Ian Hendy has produced a fascinating study of life in the Forest of Dean during wartime together with glimpses of life on the war front. He explains how men were recruited to join the new Forest of Dean Pioneer (13th Battalion) of the Gloucestershire Regiment with over one thousand men joining in the first three months of the advertising campaign. Those considered too small for this unit were allowed to join the Bantam Battalion, later to become the 14th Glosters.

Letters home from the front are used to reflect ‘a mixture of a longing for home, a feeling of revulsion at the reality of war, and, underlying all, the humanity and sense of humour’ of one who was fated not to return; letters from the front reporting on the death of a pal show the horrors they suffered.

Packed with photographs of the young men and women involved in the war effort, memorial cards for them, poems to the soldiers, sailors or airmen excerpts from newspapers, pictures of tombstones, this book is a treasure trove for anyone with an interest in the families of the Forest during the war years of the twentieth century – even if your family was lucky enough not to lose anyone, you will find this an interesting read with reference to many local names. Ian Hendy has brought the parish of Bream and its inhabitants to life with his record of the soldiers who, as the memorial states, ‘grow not old as we who are left grow old’.

Those who would like to contribute to the restoration of the Bream Cenotaph are asked to forward donations to Mrs Joan Edey, Treasurer of the Bream Cenotaph Restoration Committee, 1 Hill Tops, High Beech Road, Bream, Gloucestershire. The book itself can be purchased in local bookshops or is available from Black Dwarf Publications, 47-49 High Street, Lydney, Gloucestershire, GL15 5DD at the price of £11.99 plus postage and packing of £2(UK), £3 (Europe), £4 (World Zone 1) and £5 (World Zone 2). ISBN 1 903599 03 2