Charles Wooden VC, and Nearby Graves in St James Cemetery, Dover, Kent, UK

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John Latter on July 8, 2011

This view of St James Cemetery, sometimes called Dover Cemetery, and located on the south-eastern side of Old Charlton Road, Dover, England, was taken at 5.06 pm on Tuesday, 15th of June, 2011.

St James Cemetery is a Victorian burial ground that opened on the 29th of January, 1855, and ought not to be confused with that of Old St James on St James Street, next to the White Horse Inn.

From left to right, the gravestones are those of:

Sergeant W Hill, Green Howards; Lieutenant (QM) Charles Wooden VC, 104th Regiment of Foot (Bengal Fusiliers); Harry Percy Smith, Royal Artillery; The Morrison Children (the book-shaped memorial), including Private Albert Henry Morrison of the Buffs; Private George Radford, Royal Horse Guards.

At top-left:

Sergeant W Hill

This appears to be a standard Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) rounded-top rectangular Portland Stone headstone. The inscription reads:

In Memory of Sergt W. Hill.

2nd Bt the Green Howards

Died 8th June 1924. Aged 24

No further information for Sgt W Hill, 2nd Battalion the Green Howards available at present.

Charles Wooden

This is the headstone of Lieutenant (Quartermaster) Charles Wooden, a German in the British Army who rode in the Charge of the Light Brigade on the 25th October, 1854, during the Crimean War. He won the Victoria Cross the next day for saving the life of a wounded officer "after the Light Cavalry had retreated."

The inscription reads:


Memory Of


Charles Wooden VC

104th Bengal Fusiliers

Born March 1829

Died 26th April 1876

Deeply Regretted

- bar -

Who Served in the

Inniskilling Dragoons

5th and 17th Lancers

With Which Latter Regiment

He was Present

in the Celebrated

Balaklava Charge

- bar -

This Stone is Erected by his

Brother Officers

Charles Wooden was stationed at the Grand Shaft Barracks (1) on the Western Heights at the time of his death. An account of his history was first appended to The Grand Shaft and the Charge of the Light Brigade, Dover. Once his grave had been found, the commentary was then added to the Grave of Charles Wooden, VC photo.

In 1989, Charles Wooden's headstone was restored by Ivor Spencer of Cleverley and Spencer (Est. 1869), Monumental Masons, 5 Frith Road, Dover.

Harry Percy Smith

Harry's rank doesn't appear in the inscription:


To the Memory of

Harry Percy Smith.

Royal Artillery.

Died 12th of April 1900.

Aged 28 years.


Calm let him slumber in sweet repose,

Till the last morn its orient beams disclose

No further information for Harry Percy Smith, Royal Artillery (RA), available at present.

"Harry" could be the familiar form of either Harold or Henry. Percy is both a given name in its own right, and a short form of the given name Percival or Perseus.

The quotation is based upon a poem written in 1739 by Elizabeth Carter (2):

Calm let me slumber in that dark repose, Till the last morn its orient beam disclose.

Historical note: Harry Smith died on the 12th of April, 1900, while the Second Boer War (11 October 1899 until 31 May 1902) was still being fought between the British Empire and the Afrikaans-speaking inhabitants of two independent Boer republics, the South African Republic (Transvaal Republic) and the Orange Free State.

The Morrison Children

The inscription across the top of both pages reads:

In Loving Memory of

My Beloved Children

On the left-hand (verso) page:

Albert Henry




April 15th 1916.

Aged 19 years.

On the right-hand (recto) page:

Also of

Ethel May



Who fell asleep

May 15th 1919.

Across the bottom of both pages:

Also Little Billie Aged 5 years.

Such a sequence of losses hardly bears thinking about.

Albert Henry Morrison, T/3435, was a Private in the 5th battalion of the Buffs (Royal East Kent Regiment),who enlisted and lived in Dover. He drowned in the Tigris on 15th April, 1916. He is commemorated on the Basra Memorial, Iraq. (3)

No further information for Ethel May Morrison or Billie Morrison available at present.

Historical note: The 1918 flu pandemic (the Spanish Flu) was an influenza pandemic where most victims were healthy young adults, in contrast to most influenza outbreaks which predominantly affect juvenile, elderly, or weakened patients. The pandemic lasted from June 1918 to December 1920, spreading even to the Arctic and remote Pacific islands. Between 50 and 100 million people died, making it one of the deadliest natural disasters in human history.

George Radford

The inscription reads:

George Radford

Private in the Royal Horse Guards

Died at Dover Feb (Feby?) 22nd 1878

Aged 42 of Typhus Fever

Contracted during the retreat

Of Suleiman Pashas army across

The Balkans in Turkey.

George Radford was a brave soldier,

A faithful servant

And as true as steel.


This stone is erected to his memory

By the man he served so well

The man who wrote the above was Frederick Gustavus Burnaby, also of the Royal Horse Guards: "In an age filled with romantic legends, Captain (later Colonel) Frederick Burnaby literally towered above his countrymen in terms of physical size as well as literary fame." (4)

Frederick Burnaby was the author of, "On Horseback Through Asia Minor", which has been described as follows (5):

First published in 1878, this is the story of Frederick Burnaby's harrowing thousand-mile winter journey from Constantinople (Istanbul) to eastern Turkey. War between Turkey and Russia threatened, and Burnaby was on a mission to discover whether the Turks could resist a potential thrust toward Constantinople by the Russian Empire.

George Radford accompanied Burnaby on this journey and died on the 22nd of February, 1878, within 48 hours of their return to England.

In addition to providing the headstone, Frederick Burnaby wrote an "In Memoriam" chapter about George Radford that he added to later editions of his book. The chapter ends with:

George Radford lies in Dover Cemetery. Can more be said about him than is contained within the lines engraven on his tomb, - He was a brave soldier, a faithful servant, and as true as steel"?

Yes, there might have been added, - "In him I have lost a sincere friend." There are not many men who would give their lives for their friends. Radford would have readily given his life for his master.

Commonwealth War Graves Commission entry for St James Cemetery (6)


Country: United Kingdom

Locality: Kent

Historical Information: During the First World War,Dover was a port of embarkation for troops bound for the Western Front and between August 1914 and August 1919 some 1,300,000 Commonwealth sick and wounded were landed there.

The port was bombed in 1915 and again in August 1916. There are 373 identified burials of the 1914-1918 war here. In addition there are 19 unidentified burials, 9 of whom can be named as victims of the Zeebrugge Raid (see the Zeebrugge Bell photo), and these 9 are inscribed on a Special Memorial on the Cross of Sacrifice in the Zeebrugge Plot.

In 1940, Dover was the headquarters for the evacuation of the British Expeditionary Force from Dunkirk and nearly 200,000 of the 366,000 British and Allied troops brought back during the operation were landed there. Throughout the war Dover was a particular target for the long range guns on the French coast and between September 1939 and May 1945 there were no less than 742 attacks by air raid and shelling.

Most of the 356 Second World War burials are contained in a special war graves plot at the far end of the cemetery. The plot, known as the Dunkirk plot, contains many graves from the Dunkirk operation. 22 of these burials are unidentified. There are also 8 Foreign National war burials and 3 non war service burials in the cemetery.

Number of Identified Casualties: 731 (this figure includes Foreign and Non-World War graves in CWGC care).

About the CWGC: Established by Royal Charter in 1917, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission pays tribute to the 1,700,000 men and women of the Commonwealth forces who died in the two world wars. It is a non-profit-making organisation that was founded by Sir Fabian Ware.

(1) See all Grand Shaft photos

(2) The poem was written in 1739 and titled, "A Night Piece" when it appeared in the 1791 anthology of poetry, "Extracts, elegant, instructive, and entertaining, in poetry"(edited by Vicesimus Knox) and, "Thoughts at Midnight" in the 1807 book, "Memoirs of the life of Mrs. Elizabeth Carter" (by Montagu Pennington, Elizabeth Carter's nephew).

(3) The Dover War Memorial Project - Surnames M to Mcn (Abridged)

(4) Classic Travel Books: Frederick Burnaby

(5) On Horseback Through Asia Minor

(6) CWGC details for St James Cemetery

Genealogy: I would feel very pleased indeed if anyone researching an obscure branch of their family tree, or just their family history in general, found the above notes to be of use!

Click to see all St James Cemetery and other Dover Cemetery photos (Dover Churches,too, if you're interested!).

John Latter / Jorolat

Dover Blog: The Psychology of a Small Town

This is the Images of Dover website: click on any red or blue "John Latter" link to access the Entry Page.

John Latter on July 13, 2011

Another view that Charles Wooden was familiar with:

Looking into the Depths of The Grand Shaft, Western Heights, Dover

John Latter on December 31, 2012

Related to the "Commonwealth War Graves Commission entry for St James Cemetery":

We Will Remember Them..., Dunkirk War Memorial, Dover Seafront

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Photo details

  • Uploaded on July 8, 2011
  • © All Rights Reserved
    by John Latter
    • Camera: PENTAX Corporation PENTAX K100D
    • Taken on 2011/06/14 17:06:43
    • Exposure: 0.004s (1/250)
    • Focal Length: 31.00mm
    • F/Stop: f/10.000
    • ISO Speed: ISO200
    • Exposure Bias: 0.00 EV
    • No flash