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In 1918, at the end of the Great War, 'The War To End All Wars', the villagers of Fulstow, near Louth, Lincolnshire, held a meeting to discuss having a memorial to their war-dead. At the meeting, a villager said that one name should not appear on the Roll of Honour because he was a deserter. The relatives of the others who had been killed said "They played together, went to school together, and died together....if they are not all remembered together then none shall be".

Private Charles Kirman of Fulstow had been a regular soldier for nine years before he was recalled to the Lincolnshire Regiment's 7th Battalion at the outbreak of war in 1914. A veteran of Mons, Bois Grenier and The Somme, Pte. Kirman was shot at dawn at Arras in September, 1917, aged 32, for cowardice and desertion after going absent without leave. At his court-martial it was stated that he had been wounded in battle and was suffering from shell-shock.

Following the fateful 1918 meeting of the villagers the decision was taken not to have a war memorial, indeed the issue became so sensitive that the parish church has never even held an Armistice Service.

However, in 2004, a campaign was launched by Nicola Pike, a mother-of-four, who became concerned about the absence of a war memorial in the village after the subject came up during a conversation in the local pub and, in 2005, a memorial inscribed with the names of fifteen soldiers (including two women) who died in the two World Wars was unveiled at the Village Hall, along with plaques at St. Lawrence's Parish Church and the Methodist Chapel.

Listed amongst those names was that of Pte. Charles Kirman.

I was approached in the Spring of 2006 by Mark Addison, of Boston, who had been moved by the story to write the lyrics to a song - 'The Fallen of Fulstow' - which he hoped to enter in the 'Write A Folk Song For Lincolnshire' competition in the Autumn. I was so inspired by Mark's words that it took me less than an hour to compose a tune, arrange it for guitar and voice, and record a demo. Not only did it make the final list of ten entries to be performed 'live' on the Finals Night at Spilsby Little Theatre, but the panel of judges awarded first place.

I'm very proud indeed to be associated with what I regard as a fine piece of songwriting by Mark Addison. And proud, too, to help in bringing to public awareness a sad incident from long ago and, more especially, the fine people of a small Lincolnshire village who stood shoulder-to-shoulder in solidarity against injustice, even though it brought them years of pain.

John Blanks
October, 2006.

John performing 'The Fallen of Fulstow'
at the Finals Night of the 'Write a Folk Song
for Lincolnshire' Competition, Spilsby Little Theatre,
Spilsby, Lincolnshire, 12th September, 2006.

And performing it once again at the
Gainsborough Folk Festival 2006,
on the Main Stage at The Trinity Arts Centre,
Gainsborough, Lincolnshire, 21st October, 2006

Mark Addison and John at the Fulstow War Memorial,
on Remembrance Sunday, 12th November, 2006

The Memorial Plaque at Fulstow Village Hall

Words - Mark Addison, Music - John Blanks
Copyright - Mark Addison & John Blanks, 2006

In the village of Fulstow the village hall stands
To the memory of those who've gone before,
To the sons and the daughters, the Fallen of Fulstow
Who died in the Second World War.

But where's Pennell and Taylor, Wattam and Sherriff
Harrison, West, Green, Marshall and Hyde?
Gave their all in The Great War, the 'War To End All Wars',
You won't find their names inscribed.

Ten young men played in the fields of Fulstow,
Ten young men played in the fields of green,
And though nine of them died on the field of battle
There's no memorial to be seen.

Charles Kirman, a soldier before 1914
Recalled to the field, to Mons and The Somme,
Twice wounded in battle, and with honours awarded,
He knew that he could not go on.

So Charlie went AWOL, but he turned himself in
And he told them of the pains in his head.
"My nerves are shot to ribbons, I don't know what I'm doing",
Still the General sentenced him to death.

Then in 1918, the village was told
"You may honour your dead, God rest their souls,
"With a stone to your nine sons, The Fallen of Fulstow,
"But Kirman's not to be on the Roll".

They said, "Ten young men played in our fields of Fulstow,
"Ten young men played in our fields of green,
"And though nine of them died on the field of battle,
"All ten have the right to be seen".

It's eighty-odd years now, and the General's gone,
There's a statue of him somewhere, I daresay,
The 11th of November, 2005
Saw Fulstow's first Armistice Day.

Ten young men played in our fields of Fulstow,
Ten young men played in our fields of green,
All ten of them died as Brothers-In-Arms,
And ten names are there to be seen.

All ten of them died as Brothers-In-Arms,
And ten names are there to be seen.

Click on the links below to hear John perform 'The Fallen of Fulstow' or to view MARK ADDISON's website

  • The Fallen of Fulstow

    Mark Addison

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