AFTER we published the photograph of Bill Mayo with his pet badger in last week’s Looking Back, we were contacted by two of his sons, James and Charles.
They passed on lots of information about Bill, the badger – called Bugle – and his time at the Crown Hotel in Blandford and we will be running a longer story about this colourful and well-known character when James has sent in further information and photographs.
Bill was married to Mary Ellen Mayo and for many years they ran a café in Victoria Square on Portland which became a meeting place for teenagers in the 1950s and 60s. There will be more on this another time too.
James also had a query regarding the First World War and the crosses used to mark the graves of fallen British soldiers.
He said: “As this is 100th anniversary the outbreak of the First World War, I wonder if any of your readers have the original grave markers of family members who fell in the Great War?
“On a visit to Arras last year I met a Commonwealth War Graves Commission supervisor erecting new Headstones – 1,000,000 are to be replaced, sadly not with the original Portland stone but Italian Marble ready for this year’s commemorations.
“He told me that the families were offered the original wooden crosses which bore the name of the casualty and apparently many parish priests went over to the Western Front and collected the crosses of their parishioners.”
He added: “There are many photographs showing these crosses prior to being replaced by headstones. I am sure hundreds of families have one of the crosses, possibly tidied away in an attic or tucked in a drawer. Maybe they don’t know what they are, but it would be a fitting tribute to find out more about them.”
The Dorset Echo will be running special commemorative publications to mark the centenary of the start of the First World War and if anyone has one of these wooden crosses at home, we would be very interested in finding out more. Please contact us.