Remembering The Fallen of WW1 was an important reason for our weekend away for many historical sites and memorials. We visited Ypres, Belgium and Albert, France as well as in search of a fallen WW1 soldier who fought and laid to rest in Northern France. A soldier who fought as a calvary within the Lord Strathcona’s Horse Unit. This Canadian officer was honoured the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award of the British honours system. For which he received for his actions at the Battle of Moreuil Wood.
Now what makes me, a travel blogger, want to write about this specific soldier from WW1. Before our weekend away I had been in contact with my Grandparents. They have been looking into the family history for quite some time now and had learnt that this Canadian officer is part of the family. Related to my gran’s side of the family, he was born in Billingford, Norfolk before emigrating to British Columbia when he was 18. She is still looking into the connection exactly, but for me its likely my great great Granddads second cousin.
Remembering The Fallen of WW1
The Story of Gordon Flowerdew
Gordon Flowerdews military life started when he enlisted as a private in Lord Strathcona’s Horse unit in 1914. From this unit he rose through the ranks and became an officer within 2 years of enlisting. As part of the Canadian Cavalry Brigade, he did not see much of the direct fighting until much later on in 1918. Fighting by calvary became more important with a Spring attack of the Germans close to Amiens, France. Positioned to defend at Moreuil, this was the the last natural barrier before the city of Amiens.
While the Germans began attacking in Moreuil Wood from the eastern side, Lieutenant Gordon Flowerdew’s squadron flanked from the northern side. The calvary charge had them faced against five infantry companies and an artillery battery, causing more than half of his men to be killed. Lieutenant Flowerdew was one of these men to be fatally wounded by the calvary charge. He died of thigh wounds the next day at No. 41 Casualty Clearing Station. However this flanking move was not expected by the Germans. Causing the calvary charge to weaken the German attackers. This resulted in Germans to be unsuccessful with capturing Moreuil Wood, who ultimately retreated from this area.
His actions in what is called “The Last Great Cavalry Charge” led to the post humorous award of the Victoria Cross to be given to Lieutenant Gordon Flowerdew. This is the the highest and most prestigious award of the British honours system.
The battle took place in Moreuil Wood on March 30th 1918. The Canadian Cavalry Brigade attacked and forced the German 23rd Saxon Division to withdraw from Moreuil Wood. The battle resulted in 250,000 German men wounded or missing, in comparison to the 240,000 Allies wounded or missing. For more history on the battle, please see this Battle of Moreuil Wood page.
These days, Moreuil Wood is private property and no access is allowed to walk within the woods. We took a little walk around the woods, which we had read online that others had done too. There wasn’t much to see these days but to imagine that calvary would be charing across the farm fields was an interesting thought.
We found an reenactment video which was created in 2018 by Canadian Armed Forces, for the 100 Anniversary of the battle of Moreuil Wood. Check it out here!
Memorials to Gordon Flowerdew and his Squadron
During our search of the area we found the memorial of the calvary squadron of Gordon Flowerdew. It wasn’t too far away from the Moreuil Woods. Remembering the fallen of WW1 was clear through the memorials we visited, honouring those who fought.
The photo below shows Moreuil Woods in the distance of the memorial.
This cemetery is where Lieutenant Gordon Flowerdew’s grave can be found, as well as many of those within his squadron and unit. The cemetery is 36km west of Moreuil Wood, so a little 30min drive was needed for us to visit.
The photo below you can see what is written within the cemetery book.
We found it very interesting to learn from my Grandparents the relationship and history of Gordon Flowerdew. I believe my Gran is researching more and has also made connection with some family members in Canada, which is fun to hear! I hope the family history research continues well and can’t wait to learn more.
We wish that we had known about the reenactment by Canadian Armed Forces in March 2018 as we would have joined to watch, since our visit was only 4 months later in July.
Remembering the fallen of WW1 is and should be important for us all, whether you have family who have died or are still missing. Or whether you are unknown of any connections, honouring those who died should be respected by all.
Have you ever visited a location for remembering the fallen of WW1? We would love to here where you when and if you were also in search of a family member.
Carole Elliott10th November 2018 at 7:28 pm
Good to read your blog and see the photos. I had visited his grave but not the memorial. Will certainly try and contact some more of his descendants if I can trace some of them.