A RESTORATION

Among the research for a history book I am currently writing, I happened upon an online news article from November 2011,  which outlined a campaign to raise funds to restore the neglected last resting place of a Great War pilot, and Military Cross and Légion d’Honneur recipient from Wrexham.

‘EX-POLICEMAN Wayne Cronin-Woyday is man on a mission. [sic].

He wants to secure the funds to restore the gravestone of a Wrexham war hero, a pioneer fighter pilot killed in the first world war in a tragic accident. Captain Arthur Henry Leslie Soames, 27, who won the Military Cross and the French Légion d’Honneur, died in 1915.

He was carrying out a ground test experiment at the Central Flying School and although behind a tree 90 yards away, a bomb he was working with exploded and he was hit by debris.

He was among the first pilots in raids on the Western Front in 1914 and it was stated that the impact of his death was such that the King wrote to his commanding officer asking about the circumstances of the incident.

Capt Soames’ gravestone is in the graveyard at All Saints’ Church, Gresford but the 93-year-old stone is laying down and is almost covered with grass.

“It is a pity really. he was a very brave man and being local his grave should, if possible, be restored, ” said Mr Cronin-Woydat.

“I’m not blaming anyone for the condition of the grave. Councils do get a small amount of money for the upkeep of official war graves, but Capt Soames was buried in a private family grave which does not qualify.

“Like so many families of that time, members have passed away and there is no one to see to them so I am looking for help in raising the money needed for the restoration.”

Capt Soames served as a 2nd Lieutenant with the Royal Welch Fusiliers and then the 3rd Kings Own Hussars before being transferred to 4 Squadron Royal Flying Corp which was posted to France before being posted to the Central Flying School.

The Soames family lived at Bryn Estyn Hall in Rhosnesni and Capt Soames’ father, Frederic, ran the Brewery in Wrexham, which eventually became Border Breweries, which was later taken over by Marstons,

The Soames family has links to lord Baden Powell, founder of the Scouting movement, and distant links to Winston Churchill.

The links to the Baden Powell family led to it paying for the original Scout hut in Rhosnesni.

Mr Cronin-Woydat lives with his wife, Joannah, in Gresford.

His grandparents were from Poland and Ukraine and both were taken by the Nazis during the Second World War and ended up in Italy. Due to Stalin’s purges, it was unsafe to return to their homelands so they came to this country.

Mr Cronin-Woydat joined North Wales Police in 1994, and before his retirement, served in Wrexham, Gresford and Gwersyllt.’

This article was of interest to me for two reasons; the first being that the Great War pilot was Captain Arthur Henry Leslie Soames, the eldest son of Frederic W. Soames, the Wrexham Brewer and businessman, and the man who built Bryn Estyn Hall in 1904, and secondly, the restored grave may have been able to offer additional information for the book.

A few days ago, I went to Gresford to view the grave, and as the following photographs show, the restoration appeal had either not been a great success, or Mr Cronin-Woyday, had lost interest, or was in some way, unable to undertake the task.

The grave itself was fairly easy to locate, but was badly neglected, the whole area was choked with ivy, weeds, grass and layers of accumulated dirt and rubbish, which quite obviously had not had any attention for what appeared to be decades.

As I was there anyway, I found the head groundsman, who was working on the other side of the churchyard, and sought permission to tidy it up a bit, as it was a shame to see the last resting place of not only a highly decorated war hero, but also a pioneer airman, who was one of the very first pilots to fly over occupied France at the start of the Great War, in such a state of neglect.

Something of a local historian himself, the groundsman was aware of the significance of the Soames name in Wrexham, but knew little about the grave other than it hadn’t, like so many others in the churchyard, been tended for many years, and nobody to his knowledge had shown any interest in it’s upkeep.

As it was a nice day, blazingly hot in fact, I spent the next few hours removing as much of the overgrowth as possible, with the intention of returning the next day with some tools, to clear away everything on and around the grave, and reveal the final resting place of Captain Arthur H.L. Soames MC, in it’s entirety.

After only a few minutes work, it soon became obvious, as I began to reveal more and more of the plot, that Captain Arthur H.L. Soames, had been buried alongside his Grandparents, Arthur and Anna Amelia Soames [Nee; Gilstrap].

After almost an hours work, and bearing in mind that I was only using my hands the clear the plot, from beneath a particularly dense accumulation of well established ivy and grass, another marble slab began to appear, this time on the left hand side of the main grave, which was in a far better state of preservation, due to it being completely buried under about four inches of earth and plant debris.

IN LOVING MEMORY OF

FREDERICK WILLIAM SOAMES

OF BRYN ESTYN, WREXHAM

BORN JUNE 2nd 1857

DIED MARCH 8th 1926

AND

JULIA MARY, HIS WIFE

BORN APRIL 13th 1858

DIED MARCH 24th 1940

ALSO THEIR BELOVED

GRANDSON

WILLIAM BERESFORD

NAIRN KINGTON

1909-1982

Capt R.W.F. T.D.

So what had first appeared to be, and was reported in the Wrexham Leader as being the grave of Captain Arthur Soames, following only a couple of hours work on my part, turned out to be not only the family burial plot of one of the most influential (and wealthy) industrialists in Wrexham’s history, but had been hidden from public view for the last 36 years!

I returned the next day as planned, and despite it pouring with rain most of the afternoon, managed to clear the remainder of the plot, revealing every aspect and detail, and to estimate what would be required to complete the restoration.

Rather surprisingly, despite the grave now being 126 years old, and being badly neglected for over three decades – very little work is now required to restore it to it’s former condition.

Which I hope to complete over the next few days.

One side of the decorative edging needs realigning and resetting on a new brick foundation, a weed discouraging membrane will be laid under a layer of ornamental stone chips, a small amount of tidying up to finish, and it should hopefully, with regular maintenance, assume its rightful status as a site of historical interest and remembrance for the town and people of Wrexham.

 

FIND A BURIAL

IN MEMORY OF ARTHUR HENRY LESLIE SOAMES

WREXHAM-HISTORY

 

*All Images © 2018 www.outlawjimmy.com*

32 Responses to A RESTORATION

  1. Phil Atterley says:

    Jimmy
    Good job.
    Kudos to you.
    History is important.

  2. Will says:

    Great work Jimmy, a very worthy cause. Captain Soames should never be forgotten.

    • ADMIN says:

      Thanks Will. And hopefully, now the grave has been partly restored, it will be a lot easier to find and record, thus helping in a small way, preserve this part of the country’s rapidly-disappearing history for future generations.

      • Paul Hathaway says:

        I am really looking forward to the book’s release. There are not many authors who have put so much physical graft into their work I think. Will you be incorporating this part into the story? You should IMO. I also cant help wondering what happened to Mr Cronin-Woyday and if he is still around gets to see it? I think he would be pleased.

  3. Sheva Burton says:

    That’s brough a few tears…. beautiful, Jimmy. Act of true giving, expecting nothing in return…. I honour you and respect very much, that you walk your talk, true grit.

    Restoration is a theme for another guy I know, and I’ll be posting about that soon. I know that you’ve heard from Dave Sharp, and I’m going to put up a post soon, to show the strong people who are standing together in to expose or oppose, the FSF shandangos and put a stop to their plans, break up their sticky web, and free up the flow of better information, more real, like you too are. Also I’ll mention another guy who is going to Wales tomorrow, to watch his abuser go down for the rest of his life.
    You really have put a big smile on my face and my eyes are still wet, but in a good way, thankyou.

  4. Terence Blockley says:

    What a really nice thing to do, good on you. There are not many people who would be willing to do anything like this off their own bat and for free too. Most couldn’t be arsed to help an old lady across the street these days, which is a sad reflection on today’s society. This has restored my faith a bit and there are still some decent folk like yourself out there. You are one of nature’s true gentleman Jimmy, and this former Wrexamite thanks you sincerely. Very well done sir. Well done. Terry

  5. Jane says:

    That beautiful memorial probably thanks you too, it was clearly never meant to be hidden away. Very well done, not only for finding it & already making a good start in restoring it, but for all your hard work researching & writing your very 1st bewk!

    Another of the 5 sons of Frederic William Soames.

    As hard as nails, as some might say.

    “Julian Soames, of the 5th Dragoon Guards, survived being shot three times. One bullet passed clean through his skull. After a brief spell of hospital treatment, he returned to the fray, telling a comrade that he was fine apart from occasional headaches!”

    • ADMIN says:

      ‘Julian Soames after returning to active duty, and during a fierce battle on the Western Front – was seriously injured losing his right leg above the knee.

      However, following the war he travelled to Chicago, Illinois in 1919, where in 1921 – he married Marion Sturges Scott.

      The couple returned home to Wrexham for a few years, before finally settling in Dinard, France, where Julian in 1930, passed away from natural causes’

      Investiture Hill – The forgotten history of the Bryn Estyn Estate

      • Phil Atterley says:

        One tough chap.
        I reckon Monty Python’s Black Night was based on Julian Soames.
        Shot through the head? “‘Tis nothing but a scratch!”
        Seriously wounded (as if being shot through the head wasn’t!), lying in the mud and gore, yelling “Running away, eh? You yellow bastards! Come back here and take what’s coming to ya! I’ll bite your legs off!”…

  6. Scott Murphy says:

    Hi Jimmy,

    This is a really positive news story and I was wondering if you would be interested in me featuring it in the Leader next week? I’m a reporter for the paper and I think our readers would like to learn about your work.

    Kind regards,

    Scott

  7. Faith says:

    I should be surprised that you would do something like this Jimmy. But I’m not at all surprised.

  8. Jase Williams says:

    WOW! What a brilliant gesture. Respect to you Jimmy Jones

  9. babs lewis says:

    what a kind & considerate person you are, to tidy somebody else grave, when you are not even related.On everybody’s behalf i thank you.A pity there aren’t more people around like you.

  10. Nicky says:

    I just saw this on Facebook. What a lovely gesture there are not many people around who would do something like this these days. Well done Jimmy Jones

  11. Sam Gough says:

    Good man

  12. Paul Simkins says:

    We need more people like you. Well done

  13. Erasmus Mustang says:

    What are your thoughts on John Wedger?

    • ADMIN says:

      Endorsed by Bill Baloney no less.

      Seriously though, I try not to think about people like Wedger these days as I have seen far too many of them.

  14. Erasmus Mustang says:

    I guess that’s all I needed to know.

  15. Erasmus Mustang says:

    The endorser shouldn’t invalidate the speaker. Neither should the speaker invalidate the endorser.
    If that were the case, you would’ve lost all credibility long ago for the simple fact you once endorsed Chris Spivey.
    I cannot comment on Bill Maloney as I am without sufficient info.
    John Wedgers’ testimony and personal sufferings as a police whistle blower are however, somewhat compelling.

    • ADMIN says:

      We all make mistakes, it’s a human failing unfortunately.

      It’s how we learn from those mistakes is what is important, and when people still choose to support those who even the most basic of research will show their real intent, then I’m afraid that is way beyond stupidly.

      As for my endorsement of Spivey a few years ago?

      Wasn’t that around the same time he was putting out some decent stuff, and had a platform from which he could have actually done some real good?

      Thanks for the reminder though, it’s good to look back and see how far I have come since then.

      • Phil Atterley says:

        Spivey: How are the mighty fallen.
        It’s beyond bonkers – it’s not even amusing now.

  16. Erasmus Mustang says:

    I am not looking to court controversy here or rock the boat. Of Spivey’s long descent into madness, I have no doubt. But I am curious to know what basic research of John Wedger you are referring to. Or what you believe his real intent is. Ignoring Malone and Gerrish who have chosen to run with his story, what is your issue with the credibility of Mr Wedger?

    • ADMIN says:

      I have no issue with Mr. Wedger per say, nor have I formed any definitive opinion of him (at least one which I would like to publicaly share) …. because as I stated earlier, I tend not to think about, or worry about, or waste any of my time, on these types who emerge periodically, promise to ‘blow the lid off everything;’ scooping up the desperate and aimless along the way, and then slither back to wherever they came from.

      Never to be heard from again.

      You can try and push me on this for as long and hard as you like, and I shall continue to offer no comment until after the true picture emerges.

    • tdf says:

      The fact that he is still associating with Mr Maloney, who has repeatedly gotten it wrong, would raise questions about his judgement, in my view. Note, that is just my personal view and not necessarily that of the owner of this blog or anyone else who posts on it.

      • Jane says:

        The fact that Wedger is now giving interviews with the ITNJ, a very iffy self appointed Tribunal, that links to a bent lawyer (recently banned from practising?), and Steven Seagal no less, Segal to Trump & Putin.

        If he was any kind of decent Policeman, would he not have instantly sussed Baloney and co for the con artists they are?
        Anyone who fails to see the obvious with Baloney and co, can’t have been much cop at their job. (Pardon the pun). And maybe that;s the real reason they are no longer ding it?

        Especially when it’s common knowledge about how Baloney ripped off CSA survivors and the fact these people form a large gang, targetting CSA survivors for 5 years and include child abusers & they have some very influential links.

        I imagine for that reason alone, people would find him more than a little suspicious.

        There’s plenty of the gang spinning yarns, conning people for attention, money and trawling for info. As if lying isn’t 2nd nature to most of them if not all? .

        If his skills at spotting toe rags was as bad as it clearly is now, then maybe he left for force different reasons?

        We will never know, because obviously, the data Protection act prevents his former Police employers from having a right of reply.

        There are quite a few ex coppers involved in all this. None I would trust. Unfortunately that includes Wedger.

        Or are we supposed to believe coppers/ex coppers never lie and are never involved in crime and scamming people? Some have even turned out to be paedophiles.
        Dodgy Coppers/Ex Coppers are probably some of the most accomplished liars out there I should imagine.

        • Phil Atterley says:

          Hi Jane.
          Just had a look at the ITNJ website. All very professional in looks but loaded with BS! “Ratified”. “signed into law” and “the halls of Westminster” create an impression of Parliamentary blessing when it was, in reality, just a group of people hiring Westminster Hall to announce the formation and rules of their ‘club’! A bit like Kevin Annett’s bullshit – just with a few more actual people…
          I especially liked this bit from the FAQs.
          “Where will enforcement come from? Who will enforce decisions of the ITNJ?
          Enforcement is the first question most people ask, and the answer is The People. Just as The People of the World are the authority behind this Tribunal, The People of the World are the authority behind enforcing the decisions of this Tribunal. The signatures on the ITNJ Treaty constitute the authority and jurisdiction for enforcement under International Law. The more people that sign the treaty, the more force it will have in law. From there, enforcement is an effort of momentum…building a body of willing individuals unified for the benefit of all.”
          As in “Erm, dunno mate”.
          However, they will be happy to take your “donations” (No Shit, Sherlock) while you stand in front of a real court spouting “natural law” and getting an additional sentence for Contempt!

          • Jane says:

            It’s amazing how all these toe rags link Phil.

            Dr John Walsh was also the Lawyer for a bloke called Brendan O’Connell, who claims he had to leave Australia after his trial.

            Brendan’s currently ranting about Putin and co – yet his Lawyer mate is hand in glove with Seagal, who is hand in glove with Trump and Putin. Here he is waxing lyrical about the wonders of his Lawyer mate.

            ARCHIVE

            There is tons about Dr John Walsh on the www.

            A complete con man, much like his mates.

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