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Putting Poppies on War Graves

Putting Poppies on War Graves
I decided to do this not on one of the usual days such as Remembrance Sunday just a day.
The poppy was also a little different, it was a wild natural one.
A stirring day . . .

It was whilst out walking locally early one morning that I noticed the appearance of the odd red poppy here and there in a field full of crops.
As I headed back I rounded off my walk by going to the churchyard at St Michael’s church in Little Coates where, regulars may remember, I find inner peace and harmony by just sitting there a while.

Whilst sat there looking at a war grave my mind went to the poppies and I went once more to look at the gravestones
W. Caster lost his life aged 19 years in 1919, I thought it unlikely he’d had children and wondered whether any other close relatives still survived, it was then I thought it would be an appropriate gesture to walk back to Aylesby, collect a wild Lincolnshire poppy for each gravestone in the churchyard . . .

Flight Lieutenant N Taylor DFM grave RAF Lincolnshire Grimsby

Flight Lieutenant N Taylor DFM
Pilot Royal Air Force
14th October 1944 Age 29

Lest We Forget
That’s something we’re all familiar with but I’d humbly suggest that perhaps some of us may think of it a little more often than one Sunday a year.
There’s always a generational fear that the further we get away from the events of World War I and World War II then the easier it is to forget.
Harry Patch is sadly no longer with us and one day there will be nobody here who went through WWII either.
Encouragingly I broached my plan to a member of the next generation who agreed with me it was a ‘right and proper’ gesture and one he’d like to take part in - being 1 year younger than W. Caster !

Private JHH Rowley war grave

Private J.H.H. Rowley
Lincolnshire Regiment
6th August 1918 Age 28

Seeing a real poppy laid by each grave had a sobering effect, though I suspect much of the feeling was engendered simply by taking a moment or two to stop and think rather than just walking by.
I would hate to preach but perhaps more people out there may just take the time to visit your local churchyard, look for any wargraves and perhaps spare a moment of thought for the sacrifices made in our name.

T.A. Snell headstone

T.A. Snell LDG Aircratfman
Royal Air Force
27th October 1940 Age ?

It’s very important to remember all those without markers in our local graveyards. These stones represent those whose lives were lost whilst they were actually in this country - the number who fell abroad is quite simply unimaginable.

W. Caster headstone WW1

W. Caster
Trimmer RNR 6708/TS
H.M.P.M.S. Aiglon
18th February 1919 Age 19

I intend to repeat this elsewhere, in fact today seems appropriate, St Nicolas at Great Coates this time.

Private A. Fawcett Lincolnshire Regiment Grimsby Cleethorpes

Private A. Fawcett
The Lincolnshire Regiment
19th March 1942 Age 23
“Egypt Lincolnshire”

I shall also be adding to this in comment form with new additions as and when possible.
If you’ve any thoughts and opinions on the laying of real poppies on military graves, or indeed doing anything at any time of the year in order to show we haven’t forgotten then please do feel free to share them below.

Respectfully yours,


  1. History Hunter said,

    July 5, 2011 @ 11:42 am

    As you already know Rod, I regularly tend the grave of an individual buried in Scartho Road Cemetery, having stumbled across it a couple of years back. Its in an area where there are only two or three military graves and they seem to have been forgotten by the CWGC.

    I have cut the grass a few times, trimmed the edging and even washed the stone down when moss and bird muck was on it.

    The surname on the headstone is a good old Grimsby surname so it is very sad to see it totally forgotten by living relatives.

    If you still have the photo i sent you Rod, it would be nice to see it on here.

    [site owner edit] - of course HH, nothing could be more appropriate and added below:

    Frith Grimsby war grave

    E. Frith
    17176 Boy
    Lincolnshire Regiment
    19th April 1916 Age 15

  2. History Hunter said,

    July 5, 2011 @ 11:45 am

    The problem for me putting poppies on all the military graves that i see, is that i would be done for mass theft of poppies, as there are 555 military graves in Scartho Road Cemetery!!!!

    Anyone got a wheelbarrow?

  3. Jon S said,

    July 5, 2011 @ 12:59 pm

    Coincidentally, my 9 year old son decided, unprompted, to do exactly the same thing the other day at the memorial in Kirmington after stroll through the fields. He was concerned that one of the petals had fallen off, but I assured him that nobody would mind!

  4. Rod said,

    July 5, 2011 @ 1:15 pm

    you do some sterling work in this area, as others here will realise as well.
    I feel sure it is appreciated and also by more poeple than you may imagine.
    I’ve added the picture you took, Age 15 !!!! deadful

  5. Rod said,

    July 5, 2011 @ 1:17 pm

    that’s truly fabulous - what a fantastic thing to hear and thank you for sharing it.
    It’s a testament to your son and, if you’ll allow me to say, I suspect his upbringing as well.
    That really does give one hope for the future - marvellous Jon
    Regards to you and your son

  6. Peter Mullins said,

    July 5, 2011 @ 2:49 pm

    There are certainly Casters still around locally, and I met some of them again at a Funeral in St Michael’s last year. The two close neighbouring War Graves are part of this larger family - Caster’s sister was Snell’s mother (so the same woman lost a brother as a result of the First World War and a son in the Second). Caster was actually killed in mine clearing operations - note the ‘HMPMS’ on the grave stone (’His Majesty’s Paddle Mine Sweeper’) and the year of his death (1919).

  7. Little Brother said,

    July 5, 2011 @ 6:56 pm

    Very thought prevoking. Good work.


  8. Rod said,

    July 5, 2011 @ 7:15 pm

    Poppy laid today at St Nicolas church Great Coates, we’ve featured Collan Brett on the site before,
    more information here and in the comments

    Sergeant C.M.A.B. Brett

    Sergeant C.M.A.B. Brett - 1168185
    Pilot Royal Air Force 142 Squadron
    25th November 1941 Age19

  9. Rod said,

    July 5, 2011 @ 7:18 pm

    thanks you for that, really is appreciated, as always.

    Caster’s sister was Snell’s mother (so the same woman lost a brother as a result of the First World War and a son in the Second).

    This is impossible for most to comprehend Peter and also a very important reminder that the suffering went far beyond the armed forces themselves.

  10. Rod said,

    July 5, 2011 @ 7:19 pm

    many thanks, I also know you feel the same

  11. Donald (South Australia) said,

    July 6, 2011 @ 10:25 am


    I think your idea is worthy of wide practice. It is a small but powerful way of communicating remembrance in a society. Just one flower can say so much.

    While on the topic of lonely places, I have often wondered why vicars or their parish councils don’t leave a light on inside their churches. There must be few places that look more deserted, cold and empty than a black church, perhaps with moonlight or stars as the only illumination.
    In these days of cheap running, long life, compact fluorescent lamps, it would cost perhaps 5 quid to run an 8W lamp for many months with a (cheap) time switch to control the night hours.

    The Light of the World is strangely missing.


  12. Nicola Pike said,

    July 6, 2011 @ 4:25 pm

    HH photo is of Edwin Frith son of Fred Hayes & Fanny nee WEST.

    Edwin actually died in Grimsby

    His mother died in 1923
    He had a brother Fred 5 years older who must have fought & survived
    he also had a sister Helena who married a Thomas CREEK

    Fred Junior married a Marjorie FORD

    His father remarried a Florence INGMIRE & had another daughter Iris who married a BURNETT in 1950 in Grimsby

    Just in case anyone reads the above posts & wonders if they are related

  13. Rod said,

    July 6, 2011 @ 5:30 pm

    pleased you like the idea, it’s something I’m keen on and more importantly I hope it would remind people that Remembrance is not just one day a year.

    It would be nice to see churches light inside at night, I would imagine the stained glass would look wonderful.

  14. History Hunter said,

    July 6, 2011 @ 7:39 pm

    Thanks Nicola. That certainly adds some flesh to the bones, literally!!!!!

    All I knew was the names of his parents, but was under the impression that his parents were both dead before he joined up. Obviously not!

  15. Rod said,

    July 6, 2011 @ 7:43 pm

    thanks for leaving a comment and welcome to the site - hope you’ll return
    All the best

  16. minnie said,

    July 7, 2011 @ 12:39 am

    Do I see a fellow Fulstow resident ;)

  17. Jordan said,

    July 7, 2011 @ 1:57 pm

    Lovely Rod


  18. Rod said,

    July 7, 2011 @ 2:03 pm

    many thanks indeed, the support is always appreciated.

  19. graham h said,

    July 9, 2011 @ 12:23 pm


    One of my hobbies is ships research and I have looked up the Naval reserve ship Aiglon that is mentioned on one of the above photo’s. She was a paddle driven minesweeper and it also states that William Caster died through illness.

    You may also be interested to know that in October 1916 Aiglon was involved in the salvage of SS Mantola.


  20. Rod said,

    July 9, 2011 @ 6:33 pm

    this is fabulous stuff, thanks for taking the time and trouble to both research it and pput it here on record - really is appreciated.

  21. amiducour said,

    February 4, 2012 @ 4:19 pm

    Regarding E Frith’s grave, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission site lists him as follows:

    FRITH, E
    Rank: Boy
    Service No:17176
    Date of Death:19/04/1916
    Regiment/Service: 3rd Bn Lincolnshire Regiment .
    Grave Reference 56. N. 15.
    Additional Information: Son of the late Fred and Fanny Frith.

    Great site Rod, I found it by accident but it’s now in my favourites for sure

  22. Rod said,

    February 4, 2012 @ 5:22 pm

    thanks for taking the time to comment and a warm welcome to the site, really appreciate the input - as will others I’m sure.
    Kind regards,

  23. amiducour said,

    February 4, 2012 @ 5:34 pm

    A little more on E Frith.
    The 3rd Battalion Lincolnshire Regiment was initially a militia battalion based in Lincoln. In August of 1914 it became the regiment’s reserve battalion and moved to Grimsby where it was used for training.
    It was confined to England throughout the war.
    Very little is known about its activities as the battalion did not keep a War Diary.
    Sometime between 1916 and 1920 it was moved to Ireland due to the unrest there at that time.
    I have been unable to find E Frith’s war record but that is hardly surprising as most were destroyed by bombing in the Second World War but he was clearly not a combatant casualty so may have died due to an accident or disease.
    Either way, 15 is too young, to be either in the Army or to die.
    RIP E Frith

  24. Rod said,

    February 4, 2012 @ 5:46 pm

    wonderful stuff, just the sort of thing I love to get on the site.
    I couldn’t agree more with the last two lines Amiducour,
    Thanks and regards,

  25. Andrew Caster said,

    May 11, 2015 @ 7:20 am

    Thanks for this,
    Stumbled across this site by accident,
    William Caster, Born 1899 Cardiff was my grandad Iva’s older brother.
    William’s father also William moved to Grimsby to work on Immingham dock construction after working on Haysham docks.

  26. Rod said,

    May 11, 2015 @ 7:21 am

    Thanks for the comment, much appreciated and pleased you found this.

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