THE 'face' of a wood remembering everyone from Somerset who died in the First World War has been faceless - until now.

A total of 11,281 trees are being planted in the Somerset Wood, one for each of the county's Fallen killed in the 1914-18 conflict.

The wood in their honour is springing up at Nerrols Farm in an initiative between Cheddon Fitzpaine and West Monkton Parish and Somerset County Councils.

Somerset County Gazette:

The Somerset Wood being planted at Nerrols Farm.

Last year it was decided William Palliser Bruford, who died aged 37 at Ypres on October 24, 1917, should, as the only person from the parish killed in the war, be the face of the Somerset Wood.

The problem was little was known about him and efforts to track down a picture of him proved fruitless.

From little information Cllr Mike Batsch, of Cheddon Fitzpaine Parish Council, had we learned William was born in 1880 and his parents, Robert and Elizabeth lived in Kilkenny Villas, Taunton. Robert also owned Nerrols Farm.

William was educated at Queen's College, Taunton, and Blundell's School, Tiverton, before emigrating to Canada with his wife Hilda and three daughters.

When he enlisted with the 21st Battery, 4th Brigade of the Canadian Field Artillery as Gunner 339462 and went off to fight, his wife and children returned to Nerrols Farm.

Cllr Batsch said: "We wished to adopt William as the official face of the Somerset Wood.

"The problem was we didn’t actually have an image of his face or, indeed, much information about him at all.

"Well, that’s pretty much how things remained until a very recent and unexpected breakthrough.

"One of our amateur local historians told me he’d discovered completely by chance that William’s war medals and other wartime memorabilia had been put up for sale by an online supplier of ‘militaria’.

"My wife and I decided without hesitation to buy the collection and bring it back home to Nerrols, where it belongs.

"Even after completing the purchase transaction, I still couldn’t believe that such an unexpected turn of event was taking place until a box containing the collection was duly delivered."

Somerset County Gazette:

William Palliser Bruford in his uniform.

The items were safely delivered just in time for a Remembrance Service at the Somerset Wood at 2pm on Thursday, November 11.

Among those attending will be Douglas Kerr, of West Hatch, who believes William is his great, great uncle.

READ MORE: Search for information about William Palliser Bruford.


(A poem written by Mike Batsch).

Now that I am dead

no thoughts left in my head

I rest in peace for ever

and poppies share my bed.


No more thoughts of suffering

or loved ones left behind

of children I will never see

or doubt in human-kind.


No pain, no stench,

no hellish trench,

no hunger and no thirst,

no dread, no blinding panic,

or deafening shell-burst.


To murder or show mercy

to conquer or to yield

to play the hero or the coward

called on a coin tossed in some foreign field.


Slain in this fearful no-man’s land

twixt peace and chaos, love and hate

far from the Nerrols orchards of my home

and the swans that sail upon the River Tone.


If only I could one last time

after a hearty Blackdowns climb

have gazed down on the Levels

or heard the Cheddon church-bells chime.


But there’s no need to grieve for me

held tight in Death’s embrace

the ‘coup de grace’ He gifted me

delivered with a kindly face.


I gave my life that you should live

Be steadfast, strong and true

and hold on to my memory long –

Remember… I was just like you!