The Friends of Southampton Old Cemetery: Remembrance

16 August 2018 | Bethany Reynard

Friends of Southampton Old Cemetery looks after the care of 125 Commonwealth War Graves, in the Old Cemetery, from both the First World War and Second World War

Friends of Southampton Old Cemetery (FoSOC) was formed in 2003. Its members help Southampton City Council with conservation work at the cemetery, first opened on Southampton Common in 1846, and also take public guided walks there.

The Old Cemetery contains burials and commemorations from the First World War and the Second World War, has a CWGC Cross of Sacrifice and a memorial to Belgian soldiers who died in, and around, Southampton during 1914‐1918. Some of the Belgians whose names are on the memorial are buried close to it. Some of the bodies were exhumed and repatriated after the war.

On Remembrance Sunday each year, FoSOC holds an afternoon commemoration in the cemetery, part of which is at the Cross and part at the Belgian memorial. This year, this will be on 11 November at 3pm, will be attended by the Mayor and Mayoress of Southampton and will include the unveiling of a new memorial plaque, donated by FoSOC, in memory of those buried or commemorated in the Old Cemetery who lost their lives during the Great War. The Committee and Friends are pleased to extend an invitation to anyone who would like to join the members of FoSOC for the occasion.

The plaque is one of three initiatives by FoSOC to remember the end of the First World War. Commemorated on a family tomb, close to the main entrance to the cemetery and near to all three former cemetery chapels, is the Page family grave and memorial. The passing years have not been kind to the memorial that bears the names of three brothers, Arthur, Cyril and Ernest, who died, respectively in 1916, 1917 and 1918, but all parts of it are there and all inscriptions survive. FoSOC has been given permission, by the family, to have the grave and memorial repaired and restored as part of its tribute this year and the work is currently in progress. The aim is for it to have been completely finished by 11 November.

FoSOC’s third contribution to the commemorations of the end of the First World War is a walk: ‘Memories of The Great War’, in the cemetery at 2pm on Sunday 19 August 2018. This will look at stories from 1914 to 1918, and beyond. Because paths in the cemetery are narrow, numbers on the walk have to be restricted. FoSOC asks, please, for places on the walk to be reserved by telephoning 07538 888 655 (Monday to Friday 10am to 4pm).

FoSOC is happy to look at organising the walk for an alternative date and time, by arrangement, for groups who may be interested in taking it. Please contact, initially, on the telephone number given, or e‐mail us using the Contact Form on the ‘Contact Us’ section of our website: www.fosoc.org.