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Oak Tree Planted Alongside Waterway In Memory Of A First World War Soldier

Published on: 14 Nov, 2015
Updated on: 17 Nov, 2015

An oak tree has been planted beside the Wey Navigation at Papercouret Lock near Send in memory of a First World War soldier whose family had close ties with the waterway.

Family members of one of the past residents of Papercourt Lock Cottage planting a memorial tree in remembrance of a soldier who died in France in June 1918.

Family members of past residents of Papercourt Lock Cottage, plant a memorial tree to a First World War soldier who had lived in the cottage.

The planting took place on Remembrance Sunday (November 8) at 11am, by descendants of Alfred Wye who was killed in June 1918.

The Walsham lengthsman for the River Wey Navigations, Emma Goodwin, takes up the story. She said: “The Wye family had a long connection with the river, with at least four generations having links that lasted over 100 years.

“Alfred’s father and grandfather were lock keepers at Papercourt (some who have the good fortune of sufficient age and wisdom will remember it as as Wye’s Lock). While Alfred’s great grandmother lived and worked for a time at Worsfold Gates in Send.

“Alfred is buried in a military cemetery in Haute-Normandie, France, having never made it back home.

“While I don’t underestimate the culture shock to all teenagers like Alfred (and grown men for that matter ) arriving in the trenches, I can’t help but look at the idyllic place he grew up and try to imagine if wartime France could have even been more alien as if it was another planet.

“Papercourt Lock is quite remote even now, mains electricity only arrived in 2000, and it is likely he’d never strayed very far.

“It seemed appropriate to plant an oak tree opposite the lock cottage where he grew up.

“The cottage is not quite the same as he would have known it, it was built four years after his death, but the tree has taken its place in a view he would have known intimately.”

Representatives of the lengthsman team, maintenance team and general manager John Gibson from the National Trust’s River Wey Navigations helped family members Sandy, Martin, Di and Steve Wye plant the tree in Alfred’s honour.

Poppy seeds were scattered by the family around the tree to remember Alfred and all those lost in the First World War.

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Responses to Oak Tree Planted Alongside Waterway In Memory Of A First World War Soldier

  1. Paul Robinson Reply

    November 15, 2015 at 12:49 pm

    Perhaps there should be some sort of commemoration for LAC Lawrence Reynolds (20) of Onslow Village. He was killed in action in May 1940 when his 3-man Fairey Battle was shot down whilst attacking two bridges over the Albert Canal, Belgium.

    His pilot, Flying Officer Donald Garland (21), and navigator, Sgt Thomas Grey (25), were both awarded VC’s. Because LAC Reynolds (gunner) wasn’t part of the decision making team he got nothing.

    The Royal Air Force VC10 ZA150, that now resides at Dunsfold under the care of Brooklands Museum, was named after Garland and Grey.

    • Paul Robinson Reply

      November 16, 2015 at 2:57 pm

      As a footnote to this story: One of the survivors of the attack was berated by a German officer after being pulled from the wreckage of his plane—”You British are mad! We captured the bridge early Friday morning, you give us all Friday and Saturday to get our flak guns in place around the bridge. Then on Sunday, when all is ready, you come along with three aircraft and try to blow the thing up!”

  2. David Rose Reply

    November 16, 2015 at 11:59 am

    I know the story of LAC Lawrence and how he missed out on a VC and I agree about a memorial to him.

    A tree planted in his honour at the Onslow Village Arboretum would be ideal.

    There are many others who could and should be remembered.

    The success of the siting of the Lilly Bell II memorial at Jacobs Well in 2010 has proved this.

    Another airman who should be commemorated is Sergeant Donald Newsham Law who died when his Spitfire crashed at Slyfield in 1941 – about where the weighbridge is today at the recycling depot.

    A suggestion that the current un-named road nearby that leads from Moorfield Road to the sewage treatment plant be named something like Sgt Law Lane has been turned down.

    Guildford Borough Council has indicated that if and when a new road is created within the Slyfield industrial park it could be named after the airman, who, in fact, came from New Zealand.

    Should the Clay Lane link road be built, perhaps it should be named Sergeant Donald Newsham Law Way.

  3. Denise Hieke Reply

    November 25, 2018 at 10:57 pm

    Fascinated to read an article in the National Trust Magazine Autumn 2018 about ‘A tree for Alfred Wye’ River Wey Navigations, Surrey. I am a descendant of the ‘Wye’ family.

    My Grandmother was ‘Ada Christanna Wye’ born on November 5th 1900. Her parents (Father) was a Lock keeper at St. Catherines Lock on the River Wey. My Mother Sylvia Christine Fry (Nee Reffold) was born in the lock keepers cottage on November 6th 1926 just by St, Catherines lock.

    I have heard many fascinating stories from her about how my great grandparents had a little shed on the river bank and sold ices, teas etc and the banks of the river were swamped with people picnicking in the summer, swimming and boating in the river there.

    I am sure these Wyes were all related, as it appears they worked the rivers for many years. Could you please give me any information you may have, I understand the Lengthsman Emma Goodwin may well be the person to speak too. Would love to hear from anyone that could help.

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