Yearly Archive 20th November 2017

Killed on the First Day - The Abingdon Collection

Killed on the First Day

KILLED ON THE FIRST DAY OF THE BATTLE OF THE SOMME 1ST JULY 1916

On the 11th November 2017 I bought a World War 1 Shell at auction which had been converted into a dinner gong. This was a common practice at the time. What prompted me to buy this artefact was the inscription on the shell case which reads:

SENT

FROM THE SOMME

BY

CAPT. R.WILSON CASSELLS

KILLED IN ACTION

1ST JULY 1916.

Commissioned as a Lieutenant on 10th September 1914, he was appointed to ‘D’ Company on the formation of the 17th Highland Light Infantry [Glasgow Chamber of Commerce Battalion]. ‘C’ and ‘D’ Companies were recruited from the business houses of the City. The 17th HLI trained for a year before crossing to France in 1915 and in that year he was promoted to Captain.

On the 22nd of November 1915 the Battalion, part of the 32nd Division, sailed from Southampton for Le Havre and proceeded to the Amiens area. Much of the following months were spent gaining experience of trench warfare and from May 1916 the Battalion was engaged in preparations for the Battle of the Somme which began on the 1st July 1916. Captain Robert Wilson Cassells died in the slaughter of the first day. He was 31 when he died.

He was born in Glasgow in 1885, the son of Robert and Marion Cassells of Huntley Lodge, Moffat, Drumfriesshire. His father, a Company Director, had died in 1913 but his mother lived on until 1940 and died at the age of 87.

Captain Cassells was unmarried and was a successful Chartered accountant with M’Clelland, Ker & Co until he enlisted. He had a younger brother, William, and sister Gladys. While there is no record of the nature of his death in the Battalion War Diary he is buried at Lonsdale Cemetery, Authuille, 11.F.20. in France and is also listed on the Scottish National War memorial.

It is the inscription that really needs further investigation, in that the way it is inscribed is rather unusual.

The first part simply says ‘Sent home from the Somme by Capt. R. Wilson Cassells’ and then an engraving is added in slightly different script reads:

‘KILLED IN ACTION 1ST JULY 1916’

This second engraving was obviously added after his death but the first part suggests that the shell came from bombardments early in 1916 as the troops were preparing for the offensive in the line.

‘SENT FROM THE SOMME’ is also a strange introduction to the text and it seems an unusual item to have been posted back to his relatives in Scotland and notice that it does not say ‘brought home’, perhaps while on leave.

Anyway, he died in the slaughter of the Somme and somewhere, hopefully with the family, lies the 1914-15 Star, the British War Medal, the Victory Medal and possibly the Death Penny with his name inscribed.

Robert Wilson Cassells is remembered here, perhaps for the first time in many years. Please spare a thought for one of many who paid the ultimate sacrifice and whose name is all but forgotten in the mists of time and the thunder of the guns on the first day as they went over the top.

Any further information on this brave man would be appreciated and I thank the research carried out by Morag Fyfe, a Historical and Genealogical Researcher for the Friends of Glasgow Necropolis for her work in supplying this information online.

Visit The Abingdon Collection to see this historically important item.

Harley's Beagle Blog - The Abingdon Collection

Harley’s Beagle Blog October 2017

More thoughts from The Abingdon Collection

Hello Harley Beagle fans and welcome to the next gripping instalment based on my true life adventures. I have had a very busy month with hundreds visiting the collection, giving me plenty of hugs and kisses and leaving extremely generous contributions for Cancer Research.

Now while I am a very sociable animal my best mate Dusty will never be in line for a Nobel Peace Prize. If she does not like you, then you had better hold on to your ‘crown jewels’ as she will attack faster than any Police trained Alsatian. Dusty is only ten kilos of fat and muscle but if anyone ventures into her domain without her permission, my best advice would be to book yourself in for a two week break at the local hospital.

Dusty is very good at letting you into the property but not so good at letting you out, and unless you can jump over the large gate with ten kilos clamped to your lower leg, unsupervised entry is not recommended. If you have ever tried to run with a fat Jack Russell stapled to your lower thigh then entry is really not a good idea.

The only good thing about Dusty is that because she is overweight, [FAT] she cannot jump very high and therefore has trouble targeting anything above the knee cap. Don’t get me wrong, Dusty is a loving, caring little dog but has a strong dislike of uninvited guests especially at 3.00am in the morning.

I am five times the size and weight of Dusty but believe you me I am no match for this little bundle of fun. A new postman arrived today and not knowing any better actually made it to the letter box to deliver the post.

Dusty waits patiently for the postman - The Abingdon Collection
Dusty waits patiently for the postman

Dusty was inside sleeping on her chair and saw the Postman late. Like a coiled spring she jumped off the chair and hurled herself straight against the window and bounced off on to the floor. Getting into first gear, with tyres screaming, she thundered across the very slippy floor, burning rubber, took the turn and again launched herself at the glass door, barking her head off.

The Postman is now receiving counselling for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and reconsidering his new chosen career. I should hire Dusty out to the Post Office to be used as part of the practical test for new job applicants.

Dusty takes over security duties - The Abingdon Collection
Dusty takes over security duties

Anyway, my mate is better than any burglar alarm system and although she may not be able to run fast or jump higher than four inches, she makes a great deterrent to any unsuspecting unwanted visitor to the property. If Dusty grabs you by the ankle at 3.00am in the morning you will need a crowbar, chisel and pliers just to get her jaws open and a large bandage and tetanus shot just to get you home.

Also keep practicing high jumping over a five foot gate, in the dark with a Jack Russell clamped to your right leg, I promise you… it is not easy.

Harley's Beagle Blog - The Abingdon Collection

Harley’s Beagle Blog August 2017

More thoughts from The Abingdon Collection

Well hello fans and welcome to the August edition of my blog. Things have changed again at ‘Abingdon Towers’ with the addition of another feline friend. Now I am a dog and maybe I am old fashioned but surely dogs and cats are not supposed to get on.

In the good old days dogs chased cats up trees, cats knew their place, hissed back at you and all was fine with the world. Equality has just gone too far and this cat now thinks that it is on the same social level as Dusty and me.

Trudie, the cat, has had a very chequered life. She started life as a kitten at number 12, moved in with us at number 16 some years ago and then after a short time made the decision to move next door to number 18 where she set up her permanent home with our lovely, elderly next door neighbour. So much for loyalty.

She loved and was loved by her long term owner, but this year after a very difficult and sad time, Trudie moved back in with us. Now cats just do not immediately pack up their Whiskas and make the decision to move. They gradually increase the pressure to ensure that gullible humans will feel sorry for them.

First you see them beneath the car and eventually they take the next step and brush against the nearest human in a show of false affection. Having made their presence felt they will sit for hours looking hungry until someone takes pity on them and gives them a tin of ‘my’ food.

Now cats don’t even like dog food but they are clever enough to eat it and then throw it up just around the corner and out of sight. This goes on for a week or so until, by complete accident, the cat runs in while the human is unloading the groceries.

To sounds of ‘ahhhh’, the cat again ingratiates herself with pitiful noises and starts rolling on her back in a false display of affection. The first die has been cast and the cat is in. Attempts to put it out are in vain as she hides behind the sofa and meows and purrs.

Dusty and I watch this pantomime from a distance and cannot believe humans are so gullible. One hour sitting on the carpet becomes two hours on the chair and then four hours on my sofa. The next milestone after about two weeks is the question of where the damned cat will sit permanently.

Now if you have two humans in the house it does not take a mathematician to work out that two dogs and one cat cannot sit beside or on the said two humans at the one time. If we move she moves in a game of musical chairs without the music. She watches our every move like a battlefield general just about to gain a bit of ground. I go for a drink of water or light snack and ‘bam’ when I come back… no chair.

Dusty and Trudie - The Abingdon Collection
Dusty feels distant from Trudie, The Abingdon Collection’s new cat

Now I am almost fifty kilos of Beagle Harrier muscle, but I do not mess with claws. You see when the humans are about she acts like butter would not melt in her mouth, but if the humans leave the room all hell breaks loose. Remember the strapline for the film ‘JAWS’, ‘just when you thought it was safe to go back into the water’.

Well this is like ‘just when you thought it was save to turn your backside to the cat’, it is like ‘The Excorcist meets the Cat from Hell’. Anyway, after traumatising Dusty for a while, back comes the human to purrs and cuddles. The Only good thing about having this cat about is the food. We get crap and she gets ‘Gourmet Gold Chicken Pate’.

She gets feed about five times a day and we get fed our miserable rations of flavoured sawdust twice a day. I lick her bowl until my tongue hurts but only get a slight flavour of the culinary delights she is enjoying. I was caught eating a discarded tin of her food last week and would not give it up.

It is probably not good for a dog eating a tin can but I did it as a protest to make a point about the discrimination in this house at the minute. I even stole a full unopened can from the larder but was caught before I could do much damage… pretty smart ‘Eh’ for a dog that cannot read very well. Eating a tin can of cat food can be painful, and is not recommended, but trying to discharge it out the other end requires super canine ability and an awful lot of luck.

So we are resigned to having another cat in the house but Dusty is definitely planning something to put this cat back in her box. I can see her working out plans of peeing on the carpet and blaming the cat or scratching the furniture just below where the cat is sleeping.

When the revolution comes dogs will prevail. All food parcels still being gratefully accepted although I do think that Dusty is putting on a few pounds, either that or she is having pups again… I suppose I will get the blame for that too.

Went the Day Well - The Abingdon Collection

Went The Day Well

Those of us who like old black and white films may remember a well known British World War 2 propaganda film from 1942 called ‘Went The Day Well’. This is an excellent film and I would strongly recommend looking it up.

Anyway, a few weeks ago Sam Carruthers from MG Owners’ Club NI phoned me to see if I would provide a couple of MGs from The Abingdon Collection in Omagh to assist with the launch of a new MG franchise in Victoria Bridge, near Strabane, owned by Greg Mitchell Motors Ltd.

Now I do not normally provide cars for display in dealerships but because I know the owners family very well I jumped at the chance and agreed to provide the cars for two days. Anyone who drives an old MG will know that the best laid plans sometimes get scuppered by the famous mechanical curse.

I had originally intended taking down the 1953 MGTD and the 1968 MGC and had even booked the MGC in for it’s annual MOT the night before. Everything was fine until I drove the MGC to the petrol station, filled her up and drove home.

It started to sound like we were being attacked by machine gun fire as the MGC jolted and backfired up the road before grinding to a halt. Bad petrol I assumed, and after much cursing and deliberation I limped the car home, frightening rabbits, cows and small children as the car played out a concerto that any punk rock band would have been proud of.

Typical, a back firing MG which now refuses to start at all and lies resting in the garage. MOT cancelled, new coil, plugs, points, condenser and rotor arm fitted and the car runs perfect. The defective coil had caused the problem and just happened by chance after filling with petrol.

Anyway, too late to join the MGTD at the MG open day, so the trusty 1957 MGA Fixed head coupe’ was pulled into service and we eventually had the two MG’s positioned on the stand.

On the first night Rory Best, the Ireland rugby Captain and British and Irish Lion was the guest of honour and I have to say that he was excellent in the giving of his time to his many fans.

I provided a bit of the background on the history of MG and what the marque means to the true enthusiast. I also talked about the joys of club membership, the options of owning every conceivable piece of clothing with the MG logo on it, and the joys of sitting for hours in a wet field talking about, you guessed it, MGs.

‘Went the day well’. The new MG’s looked excellent, the club got great publicity and Rory had some fantastic shots taken in the MGTD.

On the unfortunately wet Saturday, hundreds visited and many asked for photographs in the classic MG cars which I duly obliged. The new logo and advertising for MG was stunning and I will definitely try to ‘borrow’ some for the Collection.

If you are in the West give Greg Mitchell Motors Ltd a call and try to link it to a visit to The Abingdon Collection.

Thanks Sam for the invitation, I enjoyed the experience and the hosts were excellent. Rory Best is well named as a gentleman who is willing to share his gifts with a wider audience and, as a very good personal friend of Greg Mitchell, did him proud over the two days.

Went the day well? It certainly did.

Philip Faithfull, The Abingdon Collection

Harley's Beagle Blog - The Abingdon Collection

Harley’s Beagle Blog May 2017

More thoughts from The Abingdon Collection

Welcome all Harley fans to the next instalment of life at THE ABINGDON COLLECTION. First of all some sad news, as my good feline friend ‘Midge’ passed away on Easter Monday at the grand old age of twenty-two. I will miss the extra food as I always carried out raids on her supply of Whiskas and I will even miss the near misses to my nose and back side from a strategically aimed paw.

Even in her last days, she was prepared to defend her food to the last and now I have to find other ways to supplement my meagre rations. I am already losing weight and it is not easy sneaking up on Dusty to steal her food as she would snap the bollocks off you.

Midge - The Abingdon Collection
Midge, The Abingdon Collection cat

On the collection front we have now taken delivery of a very well restored 1945 Ford made GPW Jeep which is fully loaded with everything you need to invade the French coast. It carries a 30 Cal Browning, Thompson Sub Machine gun, M1 Carbine, a full radio set and period equipment.

It is already proving a great hit in the exhibition for visitor photographs and carries the logo,’Ole 30 Cal Gal’. So why not pay us a visit in 2017.

Between 1941 and 1945 Ford a total of 277,896 GPW Jeeps with production taking place at five separate plants throughout the USA. Willys built a total of 361,349 Jeeps at their Toledo plant. This Jeep in the collection is chassis number 271,698 which suggests that it is within the last 6,200 jeeps produced for War time service.

There is very little space now available for any other additions to the collection but if you are looking for a day out with a difference then give us a call on 028 8224 3373.

We are now taking bookings from clubs and individuals and we think that you will not be disappointed.

Must go and look hungry again and I may get another scrap of food from the table. All food parcels still gratefully received.

Signing off.

Harley's Beagle Blog - The Abingdon Collection

Harley’s Beagle Blog March 2017

More thoughts from The Abingdon Collection

Hello fans and apologies for the long wait in receiving this latest instalment of my life in the ‘fast lane’. The last four months have been difficult for me as my usual long country walks have been curtailed somewhat, to a quick saunter down a public road.

I, of course, have been getting the blame for this change in walking policy but I regard this as totally unfair and a breach of my own conditions of use.

The facts are that the guy I own has bad knees and arthritis and has without fail walked me for five years three miles a day over some pretty rough ground and I have been blamed for wearing down the cartilage on his knees. Now I have to admit that I am no doctor and my medical expertise only comes from a quick visit to the Vet’s but I always thought exercise would be good for his knees.

Anyway, in November 2016 the female of the house decided to travel 300 miles and go shopping with a crowd of her golfing friends… a big mistake. I was left to take the ‘guy I own’ out for a walk leaving poor Dusty behind as she had only had sixteen hours sleep and was not really up for the challenge.

So off we set in the car to visit my favourite mountain retreat in the Glens and all went well for the first 200 yards. I then decided, as usual to take my morning dump and quietly stopped and produced a half kilo of prime steaming and good quality poo.

My jailer, being a very conscientious individual stopped to fill up a poo bag and I wandered on tied to five metres of lead. As he bent down to pick up the steaming pile my attention was drawn to a small rodent passing in front of me, so as any good hound would do I bounded forward at full pelt to check out this new found furry friend.

As I bolted forward my companion was squatting down and had just picked up a steaming handful of good quality manure which had only recently been resting in my rectum. It was like a ski jumper going off the end of the jump. I raced forward, the lead tighten with a twang and 100 kilos of human being and a full bag of poo were projected forward by 48 kilos of Harley Beagle in full flight.

He did try to stop but at that point his Achilles tendons decided to pop and he gave out an almighty howl and shouted a load of expletives. So picture the scene, one large hound bounding forward and one weakened human with burning legs, tears running down his cheeks and still attached to yours truly. ‘STOP, STOP, FOR GOD’S SAKE STOP’ echoed around the forest but fell on deaf ears..

I had only walked 200 metres and we still had four miles to walk and this was my traditional route and nothing was going to stop me going in only one direction…. Forward and upwards. Well we spent the next two hours with the wind blowing in my fur and the odd words like ‘BAST…’ and ‘BUGG…’ getting lost in the swirling air.

It was a bit like the film ‘The Revenant’ except he did not have a big bear skin coat on and no stick. only me to help up the mountain and down again. I guess that makes me some kind of rescue dog and hero but I don’t like any public out pouring of appreciation.

So two hours later and after a very slow walk, I managed to pull him to safety and get back to the car… did I hear any thanks from him… No. He cursed me, he cursed his wife and then he cursed me again… Some appreciation, Ehh?

Anyway, after four months of short walks I now have a very nice dog walker called Mitch from Tyrone Pet Services who takes me out on long walks twice a week and is a lot better looking than the guy I own. He is getting out of shape and I am still the boss.

I have lulled Mitch into a sense of security and she now thinks that I am putty in her hands… Just wait, I am biding my time for the revolution when Dusty and I will strike back and make the big bolt for freedom.

Signing off now as Dusty has to turn over and I am thinking of raiding the cat’s food again.