Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Blackmore: Walter Ovel

Received: 11 February 2011

To whoever it may concern, Blackmore Area Local History

I have recently been researching my wife's family history and among her ancestors is WALTER OVEL, born and baptised in Blackmore in 1884. He was wounded in the Gallipoli campaign of the First World War in 1915 and died later that year. His gravestone is in Egypt's Alexandria (Chatby) Military and War Memorial Cemetery and he was posthumously awarded three war medals.

I have noted that his name appears on your website among those Blackmore men who died in the Great War - yet for some reason his name is missing from the village war memorial. Are you able to provide any information on why his sacrifice is not recognised?

Walter Ovel is my wife's great uncle - the brother of her grandfather David Knight Ovel.

I look forward to hearing from you. Many thanks,

Colin Newman

Replied: 12 February 2011

Hello Colin

Thank you for your E mail. No doubt you have seen the tribute page to Walter Ovel on the website : . I will add the fact of the posthumous issue of medals to the page.

This suggests that Walter, although born in Blackmore, was not a resident of the parish by the conclusion of the First World War. Our research suggests that he could have moved away as early as three years old. I have not followed up to see whether he is on the village memorial at South Weald, his suggested place of residence.



Received: 12 February 2011

Hi Andrew,

Many thanks for your prompt reply. First I have to say what an amazing website you have created, devoted to the history and people of Blackmore. Its range and depth of information is incredible and impressive, and I found it fascinating to browse and read.

Yes, I have certainly seen - and printed out - your tribute page on Walter Ovel. I learned some new facts from that, especially that he had served and been wounded in Gallipoli, and that his death was caused by disease four months later. It has also come to light that his mother died in the last quarter of 1915, and I am told there is a strong possibility her untimely death at the age of 63 would have been caused or hastened by the shock of her soldier son's death.

Re Walter's war medals: I know little of military etiquette so I have assumed because he died in 1915 and his record shows he was awarded three medals - the Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal - that these would have been awarded posthumously rather than during his service. (see attachment). The medals are already listed on your tribute page, by the way, under Service Details.

From my research the 1891 census shows Walter, then an eight-year-old scholar, and his family living in King Street, in the Bobbingworth district of High Ongar, about two miles from Blackmore. Certainly his next-born brother David - my wife's grandfather - came into the world in 1886 in High Ongar. [I wonder whether the fact they were a farming family was the reason for their relocations in this area]. By 1901 Walter and his brother Frederick were "servants" employed as cowmen on Passlow Hall farm, High Ongar. Three years later he had enlisted in the Army.

Obviously Walter was not a "resident" of Blackmore by the end of WW1 because he had died in 1915, which leads me to ask what are the requirements for a name to be engraved on the village memorial? Should he have lived in Blackmore for a specific period of time, or perhaps he should have lived in the village when WW1 began?

I have been unable to find Walter's name on either the High Ongar war memorial or Bobbingworth's memorial.



Replied: 13 February 2011


Thank you for your kind comments about the website and blog. I will add your findings to the tribute page in due course.

Paslow Hall Farm is actually in King Street, High Ongar. It seems that Walter moved away from the area in 1904. (I think that Bobbingworth was a registration district in the 1901 census).

I suspect that your family moved from farm to farm. My notes suggest that William Ovell, Walter’s elder brother, was baptised at Blackmore on 5th September 1875; Abraham John Ovel was baptised at High Ongar on 5th March 1882, and Walter himself, at Blackmore on 14th September 1884. His date of birth is recorded as 2nd April 1884.

The placing of war memorials on village greens and in churches was not coordinated nationally but locally, and the names therefore inscribed must have been agreed locally. These were a place’s outpouring of grief and recognition of sacrifice. During our Great War research we found names duplicated on memorials of neighbouring parishes. There must also be a number of omissions. Is Walter remembered at his place of residence – allegedly South Weald? At Blackmore we find those engraved have clear residential links with the village at the conclusion of the war. People who have moved away have not been included on the final list.

There is something I could add about war memorials. The Blackmore example includes the names of those who served and survived the war. It includes three Ovels who must be more distant relations to Walter. The Parish Council are custodians of the memorial. Recently I came across an item in the Chelmsford Diocesan Chronicle in which the Bishop of Chelmsford was giving a reasonably clear instruction to clergy that memorials inside churches should contain only the names of those who died.

If you find him please let me know.



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