MEMORIAL UNVEILING CEREMONY 3rd May 1924.

IMPRESSIVE MEMORIAL UNVEILING CEREMONY AT IPSWICH.

The Suffolk Chronicle And Mercury newspaper article dated 6th May 1924, on the unveiling held on the 3rd May 1924.

img_7740

A solemn and impressive ceremony marked for unveiling on Saturday by distinguished representatives of the Navy and the Army of the war memorial at Christchurch Park, Ipswich and several moving incidents marked the occasion of the ceremony when hundreds of relatives filed past the base of the cenotaph and deposited floral tributes to their dead.

img_7735

General regret was expressed that the illness of Lord Derby prevented him from fulfilling his engagement to perform the formal unveiling and there was further disappointment when it became known that the sudden indisposition of the Mayor of the Borough (Dr. J. Staddon) made it impossible for the civic head to attend. Despite the eleventh-hour alterations to the programme, however, the proceedings were carried through with smoothness, grace and dignity, in the presence of a vast concourse of townspeople.

img_7742

Although the memorial has previously been described in the East Anglian Daily Times, it should briefly be stated the cenotaph and the panels containing the names of the fallen constitute only one phase of the tribute which Ipswich is paying to its sons who fell in the war. What must be considered as the practical part of the Borough War Memorial is the new wing to the East Suffolk and Ipswich Hospital, which combined with the East Suffolk War Memorial, provides a valuable and much needed addition to that worthy institution. Work is steadily proceeding in connection with the Hospital scheme, and it is hoped that the memorial wing will be formally opened in the early Autumn. While, for purely financial reasons, the new buildings are hardly on the scale which was originally visualised by the Secretary to the Hospital (Mr. Arthur Griffiths). The amended plans nevertheless retain the essentials of the original scheme, and the extension will, in every sense, be a worthy commemoration of the valour and self-sacrifice of the men of Ipswich during the war.

other-memorials                img_7736

The Christchurch Park Memorial takes the rear of a cenotaph backed by a screen wall, bearing bronze panels, on which are cast in block projecting letters the 1,481 names of the fallen, together with their units and branches of the Forces in which they served. The decoration of the screen is in a laurel wreath design, and in the centre of the wall is a symbolic bronze casting of a Greek lamp. The cenotaph is, in a sense, separated from the area devoted to the tablets, for these may be approached from separate flights of stone steps. The plinth of the cenotaph, which is inscribed to “Our Glorious Dead” is approached by five steps, and the observed can not but be impressed by the fine conception of the bronze trophy of arms in the foreground, the symbolising the accoutrements of the war laid astride. It is built up of equipment, including regimental standards, bundles of lances, machine-guns and a Stokes trench gun, with tripod and shells. Incidentally, it may be observed that the inclusion of the Stokes gun (invented by the distinguished Ipswich engineer, whose name it bears) is especially appropriate, reflecting, as it does, another side of the many contributions of the town towards the herculean national effort which ultimately secured the victory for our arms. The trophy is bound together with representations of cords, and draped with the Union Jack and St. George’s Banner. In its centre is depicted the familiar personal equipment of the soldier – a haversack, trenching tool, water bottle and gas mask, interwoven with stems of oak and laurel leaves, and surmounted by a rifle and helmet. On the rear side of the memorial is the dedication tablet, surmounted by the Borough Arms, and bearing the words, “In grateful memory of the men of Ipswich who gave their lives for their country, this memorial and the Hospital war memorial wing were erected by their fellow citizens.”

img_7741

Mr Edward Adams, A.R.I.B.A., of Manchester was responsible for the design of the memorial, which was thrown open to competition by all British architects, over 200 of whom submitted drawings. The underlying principle of Mr. Adams’s conception is repose, obtained by the horizontal distribution of the masses of the screen, broken and contrasted by the vertical mass of the cenotaph, the general effect being rather severe. The memorial stands on rising ground, in a sheltered and quiet corner of the park, and it has as its setting a group of magnificent poplars in the rear. Constructed in Portland stone of particularly fine quality, it does infinite credit to the contractors, Messrs. Collins and Curtis, of Ipswich, a firm in which both partners are ex-servicemen. The bronze work was executed with great care by Messrs. Earp, Hobbs and Miller, sculptors, of Manchester, and the ensemble adds richly to the beauties of the park. The foreground, the path leading to the cenotaph, and the “surround” were executed by the Borough Surveyor (Mr. S. Little) and his department.

img_7419-001

The suitability of the site of the memorial for the commemoration services which will undoubtedly be held in its vicinity in years to come was amply demonstrated on Saturday, when the large congregation in close proximity to the cenotaph was able to take its full share in the memorable service.  Obviously, it was impossible to provide special accommodation for all the many thousands who attended but reserved enclosures were provided for the relatives of the fallen, for soldiers in uniform but not on parade and ex-servicemen wearing medals, and for those who are closely associated with the civil life of Ipswich. It was a graceful act on the part of several large subscribers to the memorial fund to stand aside on Saturday in order that those who were intimately concerned with these valiant men of Ipswich might have the facilities which were their just due, and the ladies and gentleman who were mingled with the throng on the outskirts of the enclosures are to be commended for the kindly consideration that they showed. Through the distribution of many hundreds of copies of the order of service, however, all were enabled to follow the proceedings intelligently and reverently, and it was, indeed, with a striking reverence that the throng took up the opening lines of  Kipling’s “Recessional,” sung to the time-mellowed tune, Melita.

img_7738

A guard of honour, composed of 34 officers and 542 other ranks, and representing the 2nd Battalion Suffolk Regiment, the 4th Battalion Suffolk Regiment, the Royal Navy, the R.A.F., Coast Artillery, 58th Medium Artillery, 103rd R.F.A., the R.A.V.C., the F.A., and Ipswich School, flanked either side of the wide path leading to the steps of the memorial, and during the assembly of the congregation the band of the 2nd Suffolk’s played the first movement of Schubert’s Dramatic Symphony in B minor, and Sir Arthur Sullivan’s overture, “In Memoriam” in C major. The Deputy Mayor (Mr. A. Sizer), who officiated in place of the Mayor, and who wore his Worship’s scarlet robe and chain walked in state from the Town Hall to Christchurch Park, preceded by the sword and mace bearers, and accompanied by Lieut. General Sir Ayhmer Hunter-Weston, M.P., Rear-Admiral Sir Richard Webb, the Mayoress (Mrs. Staddon), the officers commanding the various military and naval units which took part in the proceedings. Col. Garrett, Canon A.L.Woodard (who carried the Bishop’s pastoral staff, and made a last public appearance as Rural Dean of Ipswich), Canon H.A. Douglas-Hamilton (St. Mary-le-Tower Church, the Rev. J.A Patten, M.C. (representing Free Churchmen), the High Steward of Ipswich (Sir Edward Packard), the Borough Member (Mr. Robert F. Jackson, the ex-Chairmen of the War Memorial Committee (Messrs. E.C. Ransome, F.E. Rands, Frank Mason and Wm. Pipe), members of the Town Council Magistrates, members of the War Memorial Committee, various guests and the town officials. Assembled on the ground between the memorial and the Mansion were members of the Girl Guides, Boys Brigade, and Boy Scouts, who paraded as companies, troops or units.

img_7744

The unveiling of both the cenotaph and the name panels was performed simultaneously, Sir Richard Webb releasing the Union Jack which enshrouded the cenotaph, and Sir Ayhner Hunter-Western removing the flags which covered the screen wall. As the bunting fluttered in the ground, the distinguished representatives of the sister services and the Guard of Honour came to the salute, and addresses were subsequently given.

img_7746

The second portion of the ceremony was of a religious character, and Canon Douglas Hamilton stepped forward to read a short Lesson from Revelations. Dedication prayers by the Bishop of St. Edmundsbury and Ipswich were followed by a two minutes’ silence, broken only by the birds in the trees and the faint chatter of little children, borne on the breeze from across the park, where the tots were at play, unmindful of incapable of understanding the emotions of their elders. “Stand at ease” came a clear, crisp command to the guard, and the period of tension was broken. The Rev. John A. Patten, M.C., who wore khaki,  afterwards uttered prayers for all who suffered in the war and for the peace of the people, and the “Last Post” was sounded by buglers of the 2nd Battalion Suffolk Regiment.

img_7745

Before the formal procedure of handing over the memorial to the custody of the Mayor and burgesses of Ipswich for all time, the Ipswich Male Voice Choir, conducted by the Borough Organist (Mr. J. Job) gave a sweet, unaccompanied rendering of “The Reveille” (Edgar.) At its conclusion, Mr. E.C. Ransome requested the Deputy Mayor to accept the memorial on behalf of the town, and he took the opportunity to return thanks to the subscribers to the memorial funds. He said that the bulk of the money was to be devoted to the building of the new memorial wing at the Hospital, but it was also felt that the names of the fallen should be recorded in some public place, and the cenotaph and screen unveiled that day were the results of that desire. The money subscribed, together with accumulated interest and the appreciation in the value of some of the investments, amounted to £50,000 in round figures. In the course of various acknowledgements, the speaker referred with gratitude to the work of Major G.R.C. Stuart in collecting and arranging the names which appeared on the memorial, and, turning to the Deputy Mayor, he said: “In the absence of the Mayor through illness, I have pleasure in asking you to accept this memorial, and to take it into your permanent care.”

“I accept, on behalf of the Mayor and the citizens of Ipswich, this beautiful memorial, which has been erected to the memory of those who have gone before and have left honour behind them,” replied Mr. Sizer.” I will take care, as far as I am able, that this cenotaph shall be carefully guarded, and that it shall receive the necessary attention to keep it the lasting memorial that it shall be for all time in honour of these men.”

A handsome wreath was placed on the memorial on behalf of the borough, and numerous officers carried to the base of the cenotaph floral tributes offered by the military, naval, and Air Force units. The memorable service concluded with the singing of “O God, our Help in ages past,” a bugle reveille the Blessing by the Bishop, and the singing of the National Anthem.

img_7739

The Mayoral procession having left the cenotaph, a poignant scene followed as the relatives filed to the cenotaph to place their floral tributes at its foot. Many hundreds of wreaths were borne to the memorial, and in numerous cases, mothers and widows were overcome by grief and fainted. Skilled assistance was gently administered by members of the Ipswich Corps of the St. John Ambulance organisation, who had quite a busy time during the comparatively brief period that the service lasted. Under Corps Supt. I. Pawsey, there were 68 officers and men, and under Lady Corps Supt. Haggar 32 nurses, with temporary headquarters at the Mansion. In all 56 cases were dealt with chiefly fainting. Four of the cases, however, were of a more serious nature and had to be moved in the motor ambulance, three to their homes in Ipswich, and one, a naval lad to the sick bay at Shotley. During the major part of the ceremony the sun was very powerful and the heat was very noticeable. At the conclusion of the ceremony Sir Ayhmer Hunter-Weston, who is a Knight Justice of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem to England, paid a special visit to the Ambulance Station to congratulate both men and women of the brigade on their smart turnout and efficient work.

After the unveiling, guards were posted at the memorial by the 4th Battalion Suffolk Regiment, and sentries kept a vigil until dusk. At the conclusion of the service the Territorial bandsmen, under the conductorship of Mr. Lewin Taylor, played a two-hours’ programme of music, including “Pomp and Circumstance No. 4” (Elgar), “Le Chevalier Breton,” (Herman), “Humming” (L. Brean), “Up from Somerset” (Sanderson), “Sally” (Jerome Kern), “Bells of Ousley” (bell soloist, Bandsman Aldous), a new Sullivan selection arranged by Dan Godfrey, and a regimental march. Facilities were given to the Boys’ Brigades, Scouts, and Girl Guides to march past the cenotaph, and subsequently, the general public were given opportunities to make a closer inspection of it. Large numbers of people again visited the memorial on Sunday, when sentries were once more posted by the 4th Battalion Suffolk Regiment.

Picture postcards taken after the ceremony in 1924 – courtesy of Mr. Paul Horne


THE IPSWICH (CHRISTCHURCH PARK) WAR MEMORIAL.

Suffolk Chronicle And Mercury 19th January 1923.

The erection of the Christchurch Park memorial is being rapidly proceeded with by Messrs. Collins and Curtis Ltd., the local builders, who tendered successfully for the work. With the exception of the bronze castings, the whole of the work will be done in Ipswich. The public may be reminded that with regard to the site for the memorial, the difficulty was to provide anywhere but in the Park a memorial of such size and appropriateness as would take the long list of names which was desired to record. Various positions in the town was considered, and with some reluctance rejected, as it was generally felt desirable to erect the memorial in as public a place as possible. The Park site is the best obtainable, and it has the merit of being quite near the town, but in a part of the Park which may be described as quiet and is therefore suitable for the holding of annual memorial services and for the visits of relatives. The design was the subject of a competition under the auspices of the Royal Institute of British Architects, whose President supported the assessor Mr. H.B. Ashley, a well-known architect.

The memorial is expected to be completed early in June and will then be unveiled by the Right Hon. Earl Derby, K.G. Minister of War.

The site of the Memorial where the work is now being pushed forward

A drawing showing how the Memorial will look when completed.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

error: Content is protected !!
Scroll to Top