Unveiling of Hadleigh War Memorial 1922
Unfortunately, this first picture is a poor image of a very important moment in the history of Hadleigh, so if you have a better photo that we can use, please e-mail the archive on email@example.com.
The second image (from The Illustrated London News) is slightly better and was suggested to us by our friends at the Benfleet Community Archive.
The memorial was unveiled on a Sunday afternoon and dedicated by John Burrows and the Rural Dean, Canon Gowing, in honour of the 48 men of the parish who fell in the First World War.
A public procession walked from St James-the-Less, led by parish councillors and the Public War Memorial Committee, chaired by A Hawkes. They were followed by the Salvation Army band, ex-Servicemen, Salvation Army Girl Guards, the 1st Hadleigh Company of the Boys’ and Girls’ Life Brigade and members of the public.
Several hundred people lined the field in “glorious weather” for the unveiling.
On 15th January 1919, the parish council had called for a public meeting before starting to raise funds. At that meeting, it was decided that the recreation ground was a suitable space and, by 1922, the parish had became owners of that land “for all time” and the overall cost of £260 could be raised by subscription.
The band played and those assembled sang, “O God Our Help in Ages Past” and the memorial was unveiled.
Mr Burrows gave a speech, as did Canon Gowing, the full text of which can be read in the Southend Standard of the following week (probably available at Southend Library).
Canon Gowing said, “standing as it did in the place where those who had gone and would not return learned to play the game on that recreation field and standing as it did in sight of the great highway, men would ponder and say, ‘What does this mean? There would also come a day when children growing up would ask, “What do you mean by this?”
Mr A Mundy then read out the names of the fallen inscribed on the panels. An official wreath and many tributes were laid at the base of the monument.
The ceremony ended with another hymn, a prayer and Lieut. Hart and Corpl. Hockey of the 1st Westcliff Boys’ Life Brigade sounding the “Last Post” and “Reveille”.
Today, the memorial stands in its own quiet area, with modern bench furniture. In 2015, I went there at 11am on the 11th November expecting sadness, but was delighted to find only the smiling faces of local nursery children. Too young to know yet what it fully means, but maybe one day they will ask the question.