Registered Charity

The FOBLC is recognised by HMRC as a charity, ref. XT38745, and is a member of the National Federation of Cemetery Friends

For all enquiries please contact our Chairman geoffrey@foblc.org.uk


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Private Joseph Byrne (1897-1915) the first soldier to die at Lewisham Military Hospital remembered at Brockley Max Festival

A moving tribute song was performed by the group 1965, a Folk and Roots duo, joined by friends as part of the 2017 Brockley Max festival . The song was written by a band member whose relative fought in the Dublin Fusiliers in the First World War and who was inspired to perform it in the cemetery after finding the name of Private Joseph Byrne on the wall of remembrance located in Ladywell cemetery. In the evocative setting of the Ladywell Chapel packed audiences listened to a wonderful rendition of songs from the group. The song can be listened to via this link :
https://soundcloud.com/mark-wallis-4/dublin-fusileer

Located at the intersection of pathways that lead towards Brockley cemetery and Ivy road lies the Commonwealth War Graves Commission wall of remembrance. Joseph’s name is inscribed at the southern section of the memorial (which has recently been re-laid and relettered)
Ladywell Cemetery Commonwealth War Graves Commission Plot-‘Heroes Corner’.
Private 9058 JOSEPH BYRNE of 4th battalion Royal Dublin Fusiliers died of wounds in Lewisham on 16 May 1915, aged 18.

Joseph who was born in Dublin is buried in Ladywell cemetery where his name is recorded on the wall of CWGC plot in Lady well cemetery listing those whose graves have no headstone. He was the first soldier to be buried from Lewisham Military Hospital 19 May in the Roman Catholic section.
The Kentish Mercury 28 May 1915


He is also remembered on the Lewisham Military Hospital memorial outside University Hospital Lewisham.


The local community welcomed the arrival of the first patients to the Military Hospital and within less than a month of their arrival the residents of Lewisham had organised an outing for the patients.

Local people loaned the use of their cars to transport the wounded from the hospital to Greenwich Park where an afternoon tea had been prepared for the patients. Along the route from the hospital to the park flag waving crowds gathered to cheer the wounded and distribute gifts of cigarettes and fruit. In the Kentish Mercury (4th June 1915) one soldier is reported to have said “Well it would be worth getting wounded again for this.” Throughout the war the people of Lewisham supported the hospital either through volunteering, fundraising, providing entertainment for the convalescents and supporting the newly formed local branch of the British Red Cross Society.


The first soldier to die at Lewisham Military Hospital was Private Joseph Byrne of the Dublin Fusiliers. Private Byrne died on the 15th May 1915 from the shrapnel wounds he received whilst serving at the front and his funeral was held in the Roman Catholic section of Ladywell Cemetery. He was only 18 years old. The occasion was of such significance locally that photographs from the military funeral featured in the local press.

Wildflower and Nature Walk Sunday 23rd April


The Friends are hosting a wildflower and nature walk around the cemeteries on Sunday 23rd April, meet at the Ladywell Gate at 2pm. The walk will be led by Tom Moulton (see Lewisham Nature Walks) and Peter Robinson whose survey of flowers in the cemeteries can be found here.


Bluebells, primroses, lesser celandine and cow parsley are all in flower now, as is the Cuckoo Flower (aka Lady's Smock) which is relatively rare in Lewisham and probably dates back to when the cemeteries were meadow land prior to their opening in 1858.

The cemeteries are classified as a Borough Grade 1 Site for Nature Conservation and the walk will also cover trees, birds and any butterflies that may be around.

Grave of actor and comedian EDWARD LEWIS (1864-1922) restored

The FOBLC are pleased that The Music Hall Guild of Great Britain and America have been able to restore the final resting place of actor and comedian EDWARD LEWIS (1864-1922) who rests in Brockley Cemetery.

Edward Lewis (inset) and his restored grave at Brockley Cemetery.
 

Edward Lewis was born into a theatrical family and made his debut at the age of 2, being carried onto the stage by actor James Elphinstone.   As a child, it is reported that he performed ninety nine times within a three day period, such was his determination to establish himself as a working actor and keep up the family tradition.

Edward went on to appear in many straight plays and musical comedies and toured Australia.   However it was performing in Pantomime where Edward became exceedingly popular and for years he delighted audiences all around the United Kingdom.   His popularity never waned and it was ill-health that forced him to resign from his final comedy role in Sinbad the Sailor at Sheffield in 1922. He died of cancer, aged 58.

The Music Hall Guild are considering organising a more formal restoration ceremony in due course..Edward's grave lies close to that of another famous (but largely forgotten Music Hall star) William Zaccheus  Putner ( stage name Sydney Bray) both graves are located close to the Brockley Grove boundary and will be included in future guided walks.