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Ahead of Armistice Day (Wednesday 11 November 2020), the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, on the advice of Historic England, has listed 60 First World War memorials in the East of England.
Built in the aftermath of the First World War (1914-1918), the recently listed memorials are among tens of thousands that were erected across England in memory of the many people who lost their lives in the conflict. In place of graves, these memorials became focal points for local communities to mourn and honour their dead. Nationally, the Cenotaph in Whitehall is seen as the country’s main memorial and this year marks the centenary of its erection.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the public have been asked to mark Remembrance Sunday and Armistice Day at home, making the listings an important part of national commemorations.
This year, as we remember the men and women who gave their lives in war and conflict, most of us will be commemorating Remembrance Sunday and Armistice Day at home. Lockdown has meant we are appreciating our local places and communities more than ever before. Discovering the stories behind the names on listed war memorials and adding new information through Enriching the List ensures that the sacrifices of those individuals are never forgotten. These poignant war memorials tell the stories of local communities and must be protected for future generations.
Westleton War Memorial was erected in 1920 by Fred Barber of Halesworth in memory of 17 local servicemen who lost their lives during the First World War. The losses of three local men killed in the Second World War were later added.
The memorial also records the name of parishioner John Gissing, a munitions worker who was killed when eight tons of TNT exploded at National Filing Factory No 6, Chilwell, Nottinghamshire, on 1 July 1918. In total 134 people were killed at the factory, of whom only 32 could be positively identified, and a further 250 were injured. This was the biggest loss of life from a single accidental explosion during the First World War. Most of the workers at the factory were women but a number of men, who had been passed as unfit for military service, were conscripted to the factory.
The Culford Estate War Memorial was raised in memory of the 23 men from the parishes of Culford, Ingham, West Stow and Wordwell who worked on the Culford Estate and lost their lives in the First World War. It was designed by architect Sidney Naish of Bury St Edmunds and constructed by stonemasons Hanchets and F H Goddard. The memorial was unveiled on 11 November 1921 by Earl Cadogan of Culford Hall with the Reverend Mahomed, Rector of Ingham, officiating at the service.
Following the Second World War a further plaque was added to commemorate nine men from the four parishes who died during this conflict.
Theberton War Memorial was erected by Mr Fred Barber who built war memorials in several other nearby parishes, including Westleton War Memorial. Theberton War Memorial was unveiled on Sunday 31 July 1921. The names of two parishioners who fell during the Second World War were subsequently added to the memorial.
Amongst the fallen of the First World War honoured on the memorial is Lieutenant-Colonel Charles Hotham Montagu Doughty-Wylie of the Royal Welch (Welsh) Fusiliers who was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross.
The London Gazette of 23 June 1915 states that on 26 April 1915, after landing on a beach at the Gallipoli peninsular, “Lieutenant-Colonel Doughty-Wylie and Captain Walford organised and led an attack through and on both sides of the village of Sedd el Bahr on the Old Castle at the top of the hill inland. The enemy’s position was very strongly held and entrenched and defended with concealed machine guns and pom-poms. It was mainly due to the initiative, skill and great gallantry of these two officers that the attack was a complete success. Both were killed in the moment of victory.” (Information courtesy of Roll of Honour).
Leighton Buzzard War Memorial was unveiled on 11 November 1920, by Lord Ampthill, in a dedication service undertaken by the Reverend Frederick Hills, Vicar of the Parish Church of All Saints. It commemorated 171 men who fell in the First World War. The monument is understood to have been formed from the largest single undressed granite block ever quarried in the United Kingdom at that time, and weighed over 22 tons.
After the Second World War, 51 further names were added and later the name of one soldier who died in the Korean War (1950-1953).
The Luton Hoo War Memorial stands in the grounds of the former Luton Hoo Estate and Manor which was purchased by Sir Julius Wernher in 1903. On his death in 1912 the estate passed to his wife Lady Ludlow. She presented the park and the memorial to the people of Luton on 12 June 1920 in memory of her youngest son Alexander Picott Wernher who was killed in action in 1916, aged 19.
Alexander was at Eton when war broke out and in March 1915 he enlisted in the Royal Bucks Hussars. In April 1916 he transferred to the Welsh Guards. He saw action at the Battle of Loos and the Battle of Delville Wood and it was during this battle, east of Longueval on the Somme, that he was shot and killed.
On 10 December 1922, Lady Ludlow unveiled the war memorial dedicated to her son, which is located in a central position in the park, and the site was officially named the Luton Hoo Memorial Park in memory of the men of Luton who gave their lives in the First World War.
The Flempton-cum-Hengrave War Memorial sits between the villages of Flempton and Hengrave in memory of members of both communities who lost their lives during the First World War. The memorial was sponsored by local landowners, Sir John and Lady Wood, and was unveiled on 24 October 1920 by the Right Honourable Earl of Stradbroke.
The memorial was designed by Sir Walter Tapper (1861-1935), who later served as President of the Royal Institute of British Architects and was knighted in 1935. He also designed the Lady Chapel in Westminster Abbey and supervised the alterations to the Abbey library.
The memorial at Thelnetham was raised within the churchyard of the Grade I listed Church of St Nicholas as a permanent tribute to the sacrifice made by the members of the local community who lost their lives in the First World War.
It was unveiled on Sunday 24 April 1921 by Prince Frederick Duleep Singh, the younger son of Sir Duleep Singh, the last Maharaja of the Sikh Empire. Prince Frederick served with the Suffolk Imperial Yeomanry from 1893 to 1898, transferring to the Norfolk Yeomanry in 1901 and resigning his commission in 1909. He rejoined the Norfolk Yeomanry in 1914 at the outbreak of the First World War and was on active service in France for two years.
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