Two years’ work came to fruition when the six wooden panels commemorating 842 men of the 6th Battalion, Gloucestershire Regiment were rededicated in an 11am service led by The Venerable Neil Warwick, Archdeacon of Bristol.
Along with regulars from our Western Front Footsteps battlefield tours and many well-known faces from Bristol’s history scene we were joined by Norman Routledge and Michèle Jetzer from The Mount Without, without whom the rehanging of the panels would not have been possible.
The military were represented by Rifleman Daniel Kemp, a bugler from The Rifles and we were joined by relatives of six men listed on the memorial panels as well as relatives of two more men who served in the 6th Battalion and survived the war.
After a welcome and introduction from Neil Warwick, Clive offered some thanks to those who made the rededication possible and spoke about the memorial’s history from its inception after the war, through its survival of a 1941 bombing raid on Bristol that destroyed the Battalion Headquarters and its subsequent move to the church in 1949. He also told those gathered about the 2016 fire in the church and our subsequent rescue work to ensure the memorial was removed and conserved by Cliveden Conservation and rehung earlier this month.
Next, Jeremy discussed the 1/6th and 2/6th Battalions and their actions at Fromelles, the Somme, Third Ypres and Cambrai, focusing on the losses sustained. He also provided biographical information on a number of the men commemorated on the panels. Some of these stories are displayed on interpretative information boards that we have had installed around the wooden memorial panels.
After the rededication by Neil Warwick the Last Post was sounded by Rifleman Daniel Kemp. This was followed by one minute’s silence, Reveille and the laying of a wreath by two pupils of the next-door Willow Park C of E Primary School.
Other crosses were left by relatives of men who had been killed or served. Dean Marks gave Laurence Binyon’s Exhortation and the service was brought to an end by a final blessing and prayer from Neil Warwick.
In the crypt we had an eight-minute film running on a loop showing the 4th and 6th Territorial Battalions of the Gloucestershire Regiment returning to Bristol Temple Meads from their summer camp at Minehead on 3 August 1914, the day before Britain declared war on Germany. Poignantly, a sizeable number of the 6th Battalion men on the film are commemorated on the panels.
Following the rededication most attendees had a look around the recently restored church, taking in the 6th Battalion memorial stained glass window.
Our thanks to all who attended and made the event possible. Special thanks to Chris Larke-Phillips and the six schoolchildren from Willow Park C of E Primary School, all of whom behaved impeccably. The information boards were designed by Paul Hewitt at Battlefield Design and the printing undertaken by Bristol Printhouse Limited.
Having received nearly £2,000 of generous donations to cover costs for the initial rescue and recovery of the panels Clive and Jeremy have paid for the second stage of the project themselves. This sum (around £2000) includes the rehanging of the panels by Cliveden Conservation, lighting, design work for the information boards and a hefty £830 to have them printed and laminated. If you would like to make a donation to help covering these costs then our dedicated fundraising page is here: https://gofund.me/0a23edf4
We would like to thank everyone who has helped with this project and the attendees today who made it so special.
Bristol 24/7 covered the story here: MEMORIAL PANELS REDISCOVERED, RESTORED AND REDEDICATED
Below is a selection of photos from the day:
Clive and Jeremy with Malcolm Linham, relative of Pte Cecil Linham killed on the Somme in November 1916 Dean Marks points to his relative, Private Albert John Marks’ name on the memorial panels Jeremy and Clive with The Venerable Neil Warwick, Archdeacon of Bristol Pauline Luscombe from Barton Hill History Group with a cross for her relative, Private George Young Pauline Luscombe leaves a cross for her relative, Private George Young Photo left by the great grandson of Pte Sam Dufty, 2/6th Battalion. Sam is seated bottom right. Vera Seaman holds a cross next to the name of her late husband’s relative, Pte Ernest Seaman Under the 6th Battalion brass plaque rests the wreath surrounded by memorial crosses from relatives The crypt after today’s service