Tribute to Othello and Todmorden troops at Passchendaele commemoration

Othello Howarth's grave at Tyne Cot
Othello Howarth's grave at Tyne Cot

Attending the Passchendaele commemoration service at Tyne Cot in Belgium last month to honour his grandfather, Chris Jones also paid tribute to the Todmorden men he found buried there, placing a poppy on their graves.

Chris Jones’s grandfather Reg Francis hailed from the Welsh borders, and the Shropshire Light Infantryman survived the battle, one of the biggest of the first world war.

Chris, of Cornholme, applied for and received tickets for the Tyne Cot event as his grandfather fought there and before going out researched the names of Todmorden soldiers buried there - and noting those whose names were included on the cemetery’s memorial wall.

One of the graves he placed a poppy on was that of Cornholme man Lance Corporal Othello Howarth, interested in his unusual first name.

He added: “I used to live next to Mount Zion church graveyard at Cornholme and there is a memorial there and a guy I was interested in was Othello Howarth, who came from just down the road in Cornholme on Burnley Road.

“There are not many stones at Tyne Cot - their bodies were nver found but there are a lot of names around the walls, including Lancashire Fusiliers.

“The ceremony was very moving and very well organised.

“It was fantastic to find Othello’s grave. I looked him up in an ancestry website and his dad was called Othello too. He was a Lancsashire Fusilier, aged 21.”

Chris, who is very interested in military history, also saw a Son-et-Lumiere show at Ypres during the visit.

His own grandfather was gassed in the battle and was not expected to live, so Chris’s great-grandmother, who had never been far from their rural borders home, travelled to France to see her son, who thankfully rallied and recovered.