On a sunny Saturday morning on the way to the sand dunes at Southport I called at Ormskirk Parish Church. It was splat in the centre of town - a pretty church in a pretty town. I’d never visited Ormskirk before and I’m 27 years old.
I parked where the vicar probably parks and guessed I’d be 15 minutes. I walked down to the graveyard at the rear of the church (avoiding the open door - there’s usually coffee mornings on the go on Saturday mornings with the obligatory begging bowl and white-haired widows.) Mmmm...medium sized cemetery. All I had was a photo of a priest stood by the headstone of William Heaton and I soon spotted it even though it was bare of the usual red wreath.
On 23rd August 1900 25-year-old William and his troops were fighting in Africa in the Second Boer War. They were advancing ahead of the general line of troops. Suddenly they were surrounded by gunfire and many were killed on the spot. Blood mixed with dust. When the bloody onslaught worsened the Commanding Officer requested someone volunteer to get a message back to the main hub of troops. William volunteered to what would be a probably death but numerous bullets. With slim chance of surviving William somehow got the message back and help was summoned. Many men were saved rather than dead in the dirt.
Two women were chatting nearby when I took these photos of me saluting and gently rubbing the “VC”. I had waited for them to go but they seemed to be talking their mouths dry. Their mouths got a little dryer as they remained open while they watched me do some salutes over the headstone. William had completed a circle. He’d been baptised in this church, went across the world to fight (he rose to sergeant when fighting in World War One) and is now under the church’s soil.
Not much is known about this brave dude’s life after the wars but he died at his home in Southport aged 66. He’s buried here with his wife. Wonder who leaves the flowers? The neighbouring grave bore more vivid bunches.
Found it….pointing ta the photo I had…
Blimey…didn’t know John Craven had died…