On Friday, September 7 the Friends of the Wembdon Road Cemetery held an event to commemorate 100 years since the end of the First World War. 

There is a total of 56 First World War related memorials in the cemetery; 28 Commonwealth War Graves for men buried in the cemetery and a further 28 remember Bridgwater men buried on the battlefields where they were killed.

Part of the event involved a small tour taking in four memorials remembering Bridgwater servicemen, which the Friends had arranged to be repaired.

These remembered Captain Arthur Major, Company Sergeant Major Richard Shrimpton, Second Lieutenant Frank Helps, Shrimpton and Naval Signaller Pursey Short.

The work was funded by a combination of the Friends, voluntary donations from members of the public as well as a generous contribution from the Morgonians, representing old Dr Morgan’s School (now Haygrove), which three out of the four soldiers had attended. 

The work to repair these memorials was carried out by Fine Memorials of Bridgwater.

Ian Hale, Fine Memorials director said: "We are pleased to be working alongside the Friends in repairing and maintaining Bridgwater's history.

"We feel this is a very important part of our past that needs to be maintained."

Bridgwater Mercury:

Miles Peterson, chairman of the Friends of Wembdon Road Cemetery, said: "The tour finished at the unassuming grave of Charles Edward Bond, who died on September 10, 1918, 100 years minus three days from the date of the commemoration. 

"There are no markers on Charles’ grave mentioning his service, or that he died because of the war." 

His story was only brought to light by Stephen Pope and the First Tank Crews Group who are researching all the tank crewmen of Autumn 1916 and Spring 1917.

Charles served in the very first tank to cross the German front lines, on September 15, 1916 when tanks were used for the first time ever during the Battle of the Somme.

He left a very detailed account of the battle, which was printed in the Bridgwater Mercury, describing how he was wounded as his tank went into battle, how it was knocked out by artillery fire, how most of the crew were killed and how he remembers waking up in a hospital bed.

Charles Bond never recovered from the injuries and illnesses he developed at the front, and later died in his brother’s house in Wembdon on 10 September 1918.  

Although Charles’ name appears on the town’s war memorial, he is not amongst the Commonwealth War Grave Records because he died after he was discharged from the Army.  

An application is being made to have Charles’ death recorded and his grave properly marked.  

Stephen Pope, who is leading the effort, said “It is wonderful that Charles’s grave, and all others buried in the cemetery, is being so well maintained by the Friends. 

"It shows the respect with which our veterans should be treated in death.“ 

Stephen is keen to make contact with members of the local Bond family and relatives of Charles’ sisters Florence Alexander and Grace Fisher, so that he learn more about Charles’ life.

At Charles’ grave a poem by Siegfried Sasson and a prayer of remembrance were offered up by Bernice Lashbrook, Lay Leader of Christchurch Unitarian Chapel of Dampiet Street. 

Then a wreath was laid on behalf of the First Tank Crews.

In attendance were the Mayor of Bridgwater, Diogo Rodrigues, Major Robert MacDonald, county chairman of the Somerset Royal British Legion, as well as representatives from the Morgonians, the Town Council, the District Council and the Friends of the cemetery.