1 May 1464 – the Royal wedding which re-ignited the wars of the Roses

1st May 1464 is regarded as the date of the wedding of Edward IVth the Yorkist claimant and defacto King  to Elizabeth Woodville,  the widow of   Sir John Grey of Groby; who  died at the Second Battle of St Albans, leaving Elizabeth a widowed mother of two sons.

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Elizabeth Woodville: “the most beautiful woman in the Island of Britain” with “heavy-lidded eyes like those of a dragon”

Edward’s marriage to this impoverished commoner was one of the reasons for the rift between Edward and his cousin  Richard Neville the Earl of Warwick, “The King maker.”  By marrying Elizabeth, Edward  had derailed Warwick’s plans to marry Edward  to a French princess and undermined Warwick’s position as Edward’s principle adviser.   The consequences of the rift would be the resumption of the Wars from the rebellions fermented by Warwick in the late 1460s and Warwick’s eventual ill fated alliance with Margaret of Anjou and adoption of the Lancastian cause.

It has been suggested that the reason that the young Edward agreed to marry Elizabeth was because he had been influenced by Elizabeth’s beauty and her insistence on marriage as a price for her remaining virtue. Or maybe, as suggested by popular fiction she had used some occult charms  on Edward.

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King Edward IV

However, the idea that Edward was head over heels in love with Elizabeth deems at odds with his  subsequent  behaviour throughout their marriage,  Edward was also an astute politician.  His marriage to Elizabeth, from a large, fecund and impoverished  family  was not without its advantages,  It gave Edward a clan of followers entirely reliant on him.  It may have been a  mere co-incidence that Elizabeth’s dowry included the services of talended in laws such as Earl Rivers was a very fine soldier, or perhaps an eye for an opportunity.   Marrying the widow of a Lanacastrian was a gesture of reconciliation to others who took up arms for Henry VI.  It is around this time that Edward had tried to effect a reconciliation with Somerset.

The winner of this war was Elizabeth Woodville, whose descendants still occupy the British throne.

Possible site of the hermitage at Grafton
Possible site of the hermitage at Grafton

Although there was a state wedding in 1465 the secret wedding is alledged toi have taken place at the Hermitage in the village of Grafton.   There has  some archaeological work to find the site of the hermitage, reported here

There is also a traditional site of where Edward met Elizabeth under an oak street and offered to marry her,  a historic site of a clash in the battle of the sexes.

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The Woodville Oak” was where, according to local tradition Edward first met Elizabeth. The original oak died in the 1990s . This is a replacement planted by Prince Charles.

30th April 1524 –”Good night” for the Good Knight

Pierre_Bayard490 years ago, Pierre Terrail, seigneur de Bayard, the commander of the French rear guard at the Battle of the Sesia, was mortally wounded by an arquebus ball, on April 30, 1524. This French soldier, generally known as Chevalier de Bayard, was renowned by his contemporaries as the fearless and faultless knight (le chevalier sans peur et sans reproche). He himself preferred to be referred to as “le bon chevalier”, or “the good knight”. The death of a man famed for his chivalry at the hands of an anonymous arquibussier appear to symbolise a transition in warfare. However the Bon Chevalier was much more than just a symbol. While most of his military services was in Italy and the borders of France, there are parts of his story which touches British Military history.

From the insular Britain the reign of the Tudors is fairly peaceful, fgive or take the odd Scottish incursion or Yorkist plot. But the forty years from 1490 was a turbulent time in Europe, with France at war for most of the time with Spain and the Holy Roman Empire was fought in Italy and along France’s still ill defined boundaries. This was a period when military technology, organisation and tactics were changing rapidly.

The wikipedia entry on Chevalier de Bayard lists his military service over thirty years service for three successive French monarchs Charles VII, Louis XII and Francis I mainly in Italy but also in Flanders. He seems to have played an important role in many of the battles of the Italian wars, from Charles’ ,VII’s campaigns .

The Chevalier de Bayard seems to have combined the personal qualities expected of a medieval knight with the professional abilities needed in the new world of gun powder, and pike and shot. While his chivalrous deeds and gallantry charmed Kings and courtiers – and Lucretia Borgia, he was far more than a dashing knight. He was a good organiser and trainer. In 1509 he raised a body of horse and foot which set the standard for discipline and battlefield effectiveness in an army which had previously despised infantry as a mere rabble. As a commander he was known for his accurate knowledge of the enemy, obtained by skilled reconnaissance and efficient espionage. In 1521, with 1000 men he had successfully held the “indefensible” city of Mezieres in the Meuse valley against an Imperial army of 35,000

Chevalier de Bayard defends the Bridge over the Garigliano near Minturno 1509
Chevalier de Bayard on the Bridge over the Garigliano

In 1503 the re was a battle on the line of , with the Spanish Army assaulted the French Army across the the River Garigliano, via bridges of boats. One of the more famous incidents of the battle is the single handed defence of a bridge over the Chevalier de Bayard single handed held off a force of 300 Spaniards. This took place close to the village of Minturno, close to where the British Army attacked in a similar fashion in January 1944 and a few hundred metres from the Commonwealth War Cemetery.

Troops of the Fifth Army near the Garigliano river 19 Jan 1944© IWM (TR 1527)
Fifth Army crossing the Garigliano 19 Jan 1944© IWM (TR 1527)
Map showing the crossing by 2nd  Wiltshires in relation to the site of the medieval bridge over the Garigliano
Map showing the crossing by 2nd Wiltshires in relation to the site of the medieval bridge over the Garigliano

Ten years later Bayard fought at the battle of Guines, known by the English as the battle of the Spurs, in which a French cavalry force was defeated by the English. Fleeing from the field Bayard was trapped, but noticing an English knight un-armoured and resting he forced the man to yield and then in turn offered himself as a prisoner. This act of chivalry endeared him to Henry VIII who released him on parole.

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On 30th April 1524 Bayard died in “the midst of the enemy, attended by Pescara, the Spanish commander, and by his old comrade, Charles, duc de Bourbon, who was now fighting on the opposite side. Charles is reported to have said “Ah! Monsieur de Bayard… I am very sad to see you in this state; you who were such a virtuous knight!” Bayard answered,“”Sir, there is no need to pity me. I die as a man of honour ought, doing my duty; but I pity you, because you are fighting against your king, your country, and your oath.”

That is an interesting view from a historic figure at a time which we assume is dominated by treachery, Machaivelli and mercenaries.

For more about Chevalier de Bayard check the following:-

His Wikipedia entry

The Battle of the Garigliano 1503 

and the Battle of the Garigliano in 1944

And the assault crossing 

The Battle of the Spurs 

and more documents on the battle of the Spurs

The Battle of the River Sesia 

To visit the battlefields of Chevalier de Bayard contact mus!

28 April 1944 – The Battle of Slapton Sands

US Forces rehearsing on Slapton Sands
US Forces rehearsing on Slapton Sands

Shortly after midnight on  28 April 1944 a German torpedo Boat flotilla ran into a convoy of landing ships containing US troops practicing for  D- Day.    Within a few minutes two tank landing ships were sinking and 749 soldiers dead.  The tragedy of Slapton Sands is commemoraterd by a monument, an M4 tank recovered from the sea.

More on the wikipedia article 

Pictures of the wrecks off the coast here

There are memorials on Slapton Sands. If you are interested in visiting Slapton Sands or seeing the places where the Allied armies rehearsed D Day contact British Battlefields.

 

 

 

29 April 1944 Raid #71 A Film Star at Old Buckenham

Old Buckenham Airfield Control Tower
Old Buckenham Airfield Control Tower  http://www.controltowers.co.uk/O/Old%20_Buckenham.htm
Operations Officers James Stewart on the Control Tower
Operations Officers James Stewart on the Control Tower

The Big “B”-Berlin! On the morning of April 29, 1944, Group Operations Officer, Jimmy Stewart, called out the German capital as the mission target for the day. Cold chills ran down the backs of many of the airmen of the 12 crews the 453rd was sending out. Bravado may have led some to applaud, but, among the group assembled for briefing, a number had “been there, done that” early in March. Doolittle had put his bombers over Berlin for the very first time in the war on March 6-and the Germans took out 69 of his bombers and 11 fighters! It was the greatest single loss of any air-raid of the war. The 453rd sent out 24 planes and lost four.

Among the 12 crews at the briefing on this morning was that of Lt. Richard C. Holman. The 453rd Unit History, page 21, records, “On the March 6 mission Holman had two engines put out by flak over the heart of Berlin. Attempts to tag on to passing formations failed, so Holman dropped to the cloud level, chased by six or seven FW 190s. With only top turret and waist guns in operation, the crew accounted for two and.possibly three of the enemy aircraft. Evading the attackers, the crew ran into flak over Amsterdam. Lt. Holman put the crippled Lib through violent evasive action, finally reaching the Channel. Desperately short of fuel, the crew tossed overboard guns, ammunition boxes, flying equipment, and all other equipment that could be detached. Despite serious damage by flak and 20 mm cannon shells, the ‘two-engined’ bomber brought Lt. Holman and his crew home!” This was one of those great ships that refused to die. Surely, the Holman bunch would have preferred to sit out the April 29 mission!

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The raid on the 29th April was the fifth bombing mission sent against Berlin.. The earlier missions were flown on the  6, 8, 9 and 22nd of March. The total number of bombers dispatched was 2,567—an average of 642 per mission. 69 planes and crews were lost on the first mission—the greatest loss on any single raid during the entire war. Total losses in the four raids were 126.

On April 29, the Eighth dispatched 679 planes. The plan was to make a disruptive raid on the German civilian population by striking several targets within the city. There was trouble from the start. The 3rd Air Division, flying 218 B-17 Fortresses, led the mission. Its formation was faulty and upon penetration of enemy airspace, it was so dispersed that fighter escort had difficulty providing coverage. Because of faulty navigation, one wing of B-17s wandered 40 miles off the briefed course, and lost 17 Fortresses. Other groups of the 3rd Air Division suffered losses as well. Total losses for the 3rd Division were 28 ships and crews. In contrast, the 1st Air Division’s 228 ships had tight formation, good escort by the “Little Friends”, and lost only ten ships.

The 2nd Air Division was assigned a target chosen for the adverse effect it would have on German morale and to impede their war effort by striking a principal artery of transportation. The 233 aircraft of the 2nd Air Division, among which were the planes and crews of the 453rd, were to carry out a raid on the Friedrichstrasse Bahnhof, center of the main-line and underground railway system in Berlin. But, like the 3rd Air Division, their formation and departure were not on time as briefed. They failed the test of being “on time and on target.” They were in trail of the 3rd and 1st Air Divisions, but flying thirty minutes behind schedule. The Jagdverbande, finding the 2nd Air Division last, struck in force. A single Mustang Group was their only protection when they left Celle airspace and it had to leave due to fuel requirements, just after the B-24s completed their bomb run. “Little Friends,” this time P-47 Thunderbolts, reappeared as the bombers were on their return flight, but German fighter ground controllers seized the opportunity and put up over 100 fighters to the Hanover area to intercept them. The B-24 armada gave up 25 ships with 246 airmen MIA.

The 453rd Unit History contains the following account, “After a day of rest, the 453rd dispatched 12 planes for Berlin. The flak was terrific and retorting crews reported savage encounters with the Luftwaffe which was up in force in a vain attempt to protect the very heart of the Reich. Despite enemy action and undercast, results were thought to be good. Lt Col. Sears, Commanding Officer of the 735th Squadron was Air Commander, flying with the lead PFF ship when that ship was seen to be hit and fall out of formation. Lt. Tye of the 734th and his crew were also lost. Lt Davison ditched his ship and he and his crew, with the exception of tail gunner Harold G. Oakes were fished out of the channel by the ever-alert Air-Sea Rescue Squads.” Read more “Always out Front”  The Bradley Story. 

In April the Eighth lost 512 aircraft-fighters and bombers. Of that number, 361 were heavy bombers carrying nearly 3600 airmen MIA.  By comparison the Allied forces on D Day lost around the same number of fatalities.

   

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“We were at the IP and on the bomb run at about 24,000 to 25,000 feet altitude. I was in the nose turret and released the bomb load from that position. The German defenders were throwing a lot of flak at us-a carpet of black flak burst all around us! I only recall holding on and praying for a fast ride away from that place. Courage, or lack of it, didn’t matter then—it was just ‘make it or not make it’ Recollections of Herbert A. Bradley, Jr.

Old Buckenham is a working airfield which holds a range of heritage events. http://www.oldbuck.com/en/home/

http://oldbuckenham.blogspot.co.uk/2013/11/moving-remembrace-at-old-buckenham.html

27 April 1650 – Battle of Carbisdale

Village of Clurain. The Royalists were in the field to the left of the village, and fled up the hill in the top-left of this photo
Village of Clurain. The Royalists were in the field to the left of the village, and fled up the hill in the top-left of this photo

The Battle of Carbisdale (also known as Invercarron) took place close to the Village of Culrain on 27 April 1650 and was part of the Wars of the Three Kingdoms. It was fought by the Royalist leader James Graham, 1st Marquess of Montrose, against the Scottish Government of the time, dominated by Archibald Campbell, 1st Marquess of Argyll and a grouping of radical Covenanters, known as the Kirk Party. The battlefield has been inventoried and protected by Historic Scotland under the Scottish Historical Environment Policy of 2009.

John Graham 1st Marquess of Motrose. (1612-1650)
James Graham 1st Marquess of Motrose. (1612-1650)

For visits to places associated with the Civil War in Scotland, the Marquis of Montrose and other battles in Scotland contact British Battlefields.

 

 

26 April 1646 – Surrender of Woodstock Palace

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Woodstock Palace – Blenheim Palace was build close to the site of Woodstock Palace

On 4 April Colonel Henry Ireton was given orders by Fairfax to join those forces assembling for the ‘straitening’ of Oxford.  On 10 April the House of Commons referred to the Committee to “take some course for the stricter Blocking up of Oxon, and guarding the Passes between Oxon and the Cities of London and Westminster”,   the Committee was directed to draw up a general summons to ask the King’s garrisons to surrender under a penalty for refusal.  On 15 April the sound of cannon firing against Woodstock Manor House could be heard in Oxford, and at about 6 p.m. Rainsborough’s troops attacked but were beaten back, losing 100 men, their scaling ladders were taken and many others wounded. On 26 April the Manor House was surrendered, its Governor and his soldiers, without their weapons,  returned to Oxford in the evening.

17th Century Oxford - Wencenslas Hollar
17th Century Oxford – Wencenslas Hollar

25 April 1643 – Surrender of Reading

  reading_siege

On 25th April 1643 the Royalist attempt to relieve their garrison besieged in Reading  failed with an element of farce.

n late October 1642, King Charles returned to Oxford from the indecisive Battle of Edgehill (23 October). On 4 November, he entered Reading from Oxford and later that month retired leaving a Royalist garrison, of 2,000 foot soldiers and a cavalry regiment, under Sir Arthur Aston.

The town and townspeople suffered many privations due to the demands of the garrison for money and lodging.

On 13 April 1643, the Earl of Essex at the head of a Parliamentary army of 16,000 men left Windsor and laid siege to Reading using cannon.  Despite attempts by the King and Prince Rupert to lift the siege, the Royalist garrison  surrendered on 26 and 27 April 1643.

The relief force arrived after the Royalist garrison had lost heart and agreed a truce.  Messengers sent to warn the defenders of the relief were captured.  Attempts by the relief force, unaware fo the truce, were to break through were met by apparent indifference by the besieged who made no attempt to break out . More here http://www.berkshirehistory.com/articles/reading_siege.html

http://sbcox.history-redlands.tripod.com/siege-of-reading.html

www.readingmuseum.org.uk/GetAsset.aspx?id.

25 April 1464 Battle of Hedgeley Moor

Hedgely Moor 25 April 1464Today, 25 April 2014 is the 550th anniversary of the Battle of Hedgeley Moor, 25 April 1464, was a battle of the Wars of the Roses. It was fought at Hedgeley Moor, north of the village of Glanton in Northumberland, between a Yorkist army led by John Neville, 1st Marquess of Montagu and a Lancastrian army led by the Duke of Somerset. The Lancastrians tried to intercepot a Yoprkist force escorting a Scots delegation.  The ambush failed and the  battle ended in a Yorkist victory.  The site is  marked by a stone allegedly marking the point where a member of the Percy family made a leap on horseback to escape pursuit.

More here;

and here:

and here:

If you would like to visit the site of the Battle of Hedgley Moor or other sites of the Wars of the Roses in the North East, such as the battle of Hexham 1464 and the sieges of Alnwick and Bamburgh Castles  Contact British Battlefields or are interested in promoting the military heritage of these battles please contact   info@british battlefields.com

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24 April 1944 Two B24 aircraft from the 392 BG did not return to RAF Wendling

 

Control Tower Wendling 1944
Control Tower Wendling 1944

 

On 24 April 1944 RAF Wendling, near East Derham, Norfolk  was the home to the 392 Bombardment Group (Heavy) of the 8th US Air Force.    It had been opened in 1942.

Wendling Airfield 30 March 1946
Wendling Airfield 30 March 1946

On that day twenty five  B 24 Bomber aircraft took off on Mission  # 71 Target: Leipheim in Germany.  Two aircraft did not return.

#44-40105 (NO NICKNAME) “B-Bar” flying its  first mission: Pilot  2Lt Carl F Ellinger.  

Eye-witness reports from returning crewmen of other planes (Lts. Ambrose, Kamenitsa, and Weinheimer) stated that the Ellinger ship (received a direct hit from AA guns at position 50-50 N; 03-20E at 1558 hours on route back from the target and this flak had struck the aircraft just behind the wing section with the plane starting down and disintegrating before striking the ground and, no chutes were seen.

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B24s of the 392nd Bombardment Group

The tail gunner, Sgt Hasenfratz later recalled that after flak hit his aircraft, the front section exploded into flames and the tail section spun out of control toward the ground. He and two other crewmembers were in the tail section as it plunged 18,000 feet to the ground. Hasenfratz was the sole survivor.

04362 AIRCRAFT: #41-28688 (NO NICKNAME) “Q-Bar” 18th Mission: Pilot : 2Lt Travis W Griffin

Returning crew members (Lts. Sabourin, Filkel, and Weinheimer) gave the following eye-witness account of this aircrew loss: At approximately 1330 hours, the Griffin plane left the formation before reaching the target with 2 engines out, reported to be due to mechanical failure. The plane was under control but losing altitude gradually and was headed in the general direction of Switzerland escorted by 3 x P-47’s. German Report #KU1603, 25 April 1944, Airbase Command A7NII, Freiburg, reported the crash of this Liberator at 1347 hours, (12) kilometers southwest of Freudenstadt near Schappach, Schwarzwald (Black Forest) with 8 crew members being captured in same vicinity and 2 others found dead.392bg-b24-2

Later after repatriation from POW status, Sgt. Kelly was interrogated by the Intelligence Section at Selfridge Field, Michigan (a l/Lt. Roeder) and the crewmember gave this account of their mission mishap: That due to mechanical failures of three engines, #2, #1 and #3 in that order, their plane was unable to hold bomber formation position or altitude which resulted in all members abandoning ship over Freiburg, Germany. All crewmen successfully bailed out including the two deceased members. Sgt. Bryant’s chute was observed as open, but Sgt Gallup was not seen after he left the aircraft. This report was the only one available from any crewmember made after war’s end. The German on-scene report noted that the captured members were sent on to Dulag-Luft, Oberursel on 26 April 1944 for interrogation processing. (Note: No indication further was given on the possibility of the engine failures being caused possibly by enemy actions, or perhaps, contributing fuel management problems)  For more information on the mission check this page on b24.net

_MG_0334wendling

Wendling is now a Turkey farm, but the buildings and traces of the 392nd Bombardment Group remain.  More information on the http://www.airfieldinformationexchange.org/

A RATING SYSTEM FOR BRITISH BATTLEFIELDS AND MILITARY HERITAGE SITES

Hastings _2006
Hastings 1066 Battlefield. English Heritage property, good walking routes inside and outside the battlefield. Good access by public transport and car.

One of the first things that British Battlefields would like to do is to provide visitors with the information to plan a visit to a battlefield or other military heritage site. We would like to establish a standardised rating system for battlefields that make it easy for the visitor to plan a visit. This isn’t about the significance of the battles themselves, but what is there to see and do there. This information isn’t widely recorded and we would like the help from those who know the area to help to build up this information and keep it up to date.

Battlefields

Very few British Battlefields have an interpretation centre or are marked with information boards or a walking or driving trail. Unlike the exhibits in a museum, the exhibits are scattered over many acres, usually of private property.

edgehill_monument
This view over the registered battlefield of Edeghill shows mrolling countryside, if a little more enclosed than in the C17th. The viewpoint is next to the Castle inn, which until a burglary, held a collection of weapons, pictures and artifacts.

A visitor needs to know what is there to see. Is the battlefield landscape unchanged? Or is it only possible to see the historic landscape, from a single viewpoint with blinkers to hide modern development? Or is there just an information panel on an urban development which once was open country?

This monument, Also at Edgehill is on MOD land and can only be accessed by the public on rare occasions and with prior permission
This monument, Also at Edgehill is on MOD land and can only be accessed by the public on rare occasions and with prior permission

How easy is it to drive around the battlefield? Martin Marix Evans told me that the design of the viewing points at Naseby was inspired by the desire to avoid the difficulties experienced by his aged parent walking to the existing monument. It would be useful to know whether someone limited mobility could make a visit to a viewing and interpretation point close to a car park. Is there car parking on site or close by?

Barnet Battlefield 1471 - Kitts Ends alternative site. Open rural landscape. Privately owned with no public access. No facilities. No interpretation and limited parking in a few viewing points. Public transport access by tube to High Barnet (45 min walk or 10 mins bus ride) or rail to Hadley Wood and 30 mins walk. Best access via bicycle.
Barnet Battlefield 1471 – Kitts Ends alternative site. Open rural landscape. Privately owned with no public access. No facilities. No interpretation and limited parking in a few viewing points. Public transport access by tube to High Barnet (45 min walk or 10 mins bus ride) or rail to Hadley Wood and 30 mins walk. Best access via bicycle.

Is it easy to visit the battlefield by public transport? How far away is the nearest public transport stop?

How easy is it to walk around the battlefield? Is easy walking over foot paths? Or will the visitor expect to want through muddy tracks or over rough ground.

What interpretation exists? Is there a visitor, information panels or a leaflet? Or does the visitor need to read up before the visit or hire a guide to make sense of the ground?

What other facilities exist? Are there any lavatories nearby? Is there somewhere to buy a drink – or shelter from inclement weather?

Museums

turnham3
This information boar at Turnham Green is part of a walking trail around the London borough of Acton and Houndslow. At this point it is possible to look across what was common land one army’s battle-line to the other. Easy access by public transport. Less easy to park in the working week!

The same is also true of much of the other military heritage. Britain has dozens of Regimental museums partially funded by the MOD. There are also corners of municipal museums as well as private and local museums and heritage sites. Their opening hours vary as do the charges. It also helps to know if there are exhibits relating to specific campaigns units and personalities. They vary in their ease of access and their accessibility by car and public transport.

It helps to know who owns the site. Is this somewhere where an English Heritage or CADW membership helps? How expensive is it? Does a visitor need to make a prior appointment?

EXAMPLE RATING

We think it would be a good idea if people interested in military heritage could have a guide to the gems which exist in the countryside and in our many military heritage sites. British Battlefields is recording the information about tourist access for each battlefield. There is a draft scheme on the  page called “rating system,” This uses the tourist attraction map symbols from the 1:25,000 OS maps.

WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP

Rating battlefields is quite a large task, and we would like to enlist the help of people with local knowledge.

  • Tell us what you think about the rating system.
  • Send in your rating of your local battlefield or museum.