Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Unveiling Chailey's war memorial

These images of the unveiling of Chailey's war memorial all date to the 2nd October 1920.

Thomas Deadman is clearly identifiable in some of the photographs but who are the other participants?

Even before the war was over, work began in Chailey to commemorate the dead of the parish.  A temporary war memorial, paid for parishioners, was unveiled in the summer of 1918.  The teak triptych made of wood from HMS Britannia can still be seen in St Peter’s Church, Chailey and is now situated above a memorial book. The triptych was unveiled on June 4th but a further eleven men from the village would die in action before the year was out.

News reached the village about mid day on the 11th November that the Armistice had been signed and the same evening, “a large and reverend congregation” filled the parish church to give thanks for the victory.  Services of thanksgiving were also held the following Sunday.

In June 1919, The Chailey Parish Magazine reported that at an adjourned public meeting held at The Reading Room, it was unanimously resolved to erect a granite war memorial designed by Mr Cotesworth, on which were to be recorded the names of those connected with the Parish who fell in the war. It was decided by a narrow majority of two votes that the location for the memorial should be opposite the Reading Room. (Photograph below courtesy of Mike Anton).

At peace celebrations held in the village on July 19th 1919 a Special Eucharist and service of thanksgiving was held, 114 soldiers and sailors attending a ‘sumptuous dinner’ in the Parish Room.  Children were presented with medals by Robert Blencowe to commemorate the end of the Great War and each child had his or her medal pinned to shirts and blouses.

The concluding toast paid tribute to the work of the Red Cross and especially mentioned Beechland House which had done such good work with Miss Cotesworth as Commandant.  Frances Blencowe was also singled out for praise.

The following year, on October 2nd 1920, Chailey's war memorial was unveiled.

Forty nine names of servicemen who were killed in action or died as a result of wounds or sickness attributable to the Great War appear on the war memorial on Chailey village green.  According to my research, the names of a further seven men should also appear.  In alphabetical order, they are:

Charles Buckwell (born and lived in Chailey), Charles Hodges (born in Chailey), Robert Charles Jessop (born in Chailey), William Alfred Lansdowne (resident in Chailey), Richard Roffe (resident in Chailey), Edward Wells (resident in Chailey) and Charles Jarrett Willey (born in Chailey).

In addition, Harold Macculloch certainly had connections with the parish (his father John died at home in Chailey in 1915) and his name appears on the wooden triptych inside the church and in the British Legion Roll of Honour but not on the war memorial.

Frederick James Smith and George Spencer Smith are both noted on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s Debt of Honour as being the sons of James and Margaret Emma Smith of Yew Tree Cottage, Cornwell's Bank, Chailey, Lewes, Sussex when in fact Colonel’s Bank is in Newick.  Their names appear on the war memorial in Newick along with those of two other brothers also killed during the First World War.

Finally, William Henry Spice is recorded on Soldiers in Died in The Great War as having been born in “Chailey, Kent”.  As I indicate on his page, this is certainly an error and it seems likely that he had no connection with the parish.

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