Wendy Austin and Ian Petticrew
Britain the searing grief experienced by millions following the
horrors of World War One left many people numb and in a state of
shock. Gradually, all seemed to agree that the sacrifice
of the serving men should be commemorated in some way, but the
length of time it took to decide on the style, siting, and fund
raising method for a war memorial varied greatly from community
to community. (The war memorial in Tring was most unusual
in that it was erected and dedicated shortly before the
Armistice of November 1918 – in fact Tring was written up as
setting a splendid example to the nation as a whole.)
the villages north of Tring, it took three years from the time
that the subject was first broached until the erection of the
completed memorial. The historic day for Long Marston and
Marsworth fell on Sunday afternoon 7th August 1921 when the
second Lord Rothschild performed both unveiling ceremonies,
dressed in the uniform of his regiment, the Bucks Yeomanry.
Long Marston selected as its design a Celtic cross carved from a
single slab of silver-grey granite set upon three high steps,
and sited in the centre of the village near the school (which
no-one then dreamed would be totally destroyed by bombing twenty
later during the next world conflict). It was estimated
that the cost would be £400 after allowing for carving the names
and inscription, supplying a rail fence, laying turf, and
planting ornamental trees. It is recorded that the
foundations were set by James Chandler & Son of Long Marston,
and the erection carried out by Newman & Harper of Aylesbury.
Before the ceremony the villagers assembled to the music of the
Long Marston Band, and ex-servicemen under the charge of
Sergeant Proctor formed a guard of honour for Lord Rothschild.
As it happened, a London troop of Boy Scouts were camped in
nearby fields, and two of their officers acted as standard
bearers. The short service was conducted by the Rev. R. H.
Rowden, assisted by Mr. Bates of Aylesbury representing the
village’s Wesleyan Methodist Church, following which a speech
given by Lord Rothschild in which he laid great stress on “the
call of duty”. Whether or not the fine words held any
shreds of comfort for the bereaved wives, mothers, fathers,
fiancées, and others, we cannot know.
Marston War Memorial.
The village school at the rear was destroyed
by bombing during WWII.
of the Long Marston war memorial,
Wilstone War Memorial.
Marsworth War Memorial.
party then progressed to Marsworth to perform a similar
ceremony. Marsworth architect A. J. Gurney charged no fee
for his design of a Gothic cross, which was sited in a prominent
position in the churchyard on rising ground fronting the road.
Constructed of Portland stone gifted by William Mead, owner of
Tring Flour Mill, the cost of carving and erection amounted to
£140, which was raised by public subscription. Of the 55
men of Marsworth who served in the Great War, 11 did not return
and their names are inscribed on the base of the cross. A
similar speech by Lord Rothschild was followed by the sounding
of the Last Post by trumpeters from the Wendover Boys’ Brigade,
and their band led the singing of the National Anthem.
months later on 3rd October 1921, the village folk of Wilstone
experienced the same sad occasion as their neighbours.
Again, the design chosen was a Celtic cross made of Cornish
granite, but it did have one notable difference, for the base
was of stone that originally formed part of the swing bridge
over the Wendover Arm of the Grand Junction Canal. This,
and the generous donation of railings by local farmer Percy
Mead, helped to keep costs down to £140. After a service
on the village green led by the Rev. R. H. Rowden, Percy Mead
read out the nine names of the fallen and Capt. G. M. Brown MC
of Tring unveiled the memorial and addressed the crowd.
Following a minute’s silence, a prayer was said by Arthur
Bagnall representing Wilstone Baptist Church and the Long
Marston Band, under the baton of Mr Prothero, played the Last
Post followed by the Reveille sounded by a troop of RAF
Wilstone War Memorial, 3rd October 1921.
The scenes enacted in these villages no doubt followed a similar
pattern and were accompanied by the same emotions as those
experienced by every community across the land. But it is good
to remember that in Puttenham things turned out differently.
This tiny hamlet can be called a ‘Thankful Village’, that is,
one that lost no men in the carnage of the Great War. The term
was first used by historian Arthur Mee, who estimated that at
most there were 32 such villages and hamlets in the whole of
Britain, although he could only positively identify 24.
Puttenham was certainly the only one in Hertfordshire, and the
relief and joy that greeted the 15 returning servicemen can only
be imagined, although how much physical and mental scarring they
carried home with them is impossible to say. At the Harvest
Thanksgiving service of 1925, a tablet was unveiled in the south
aisle of St. Mary’s Church. Its simple inscription speaks for
the Puttenham Memorial.
Buckland. The village
of Buckland is situated between Marsworth and Aston Clinton,
east of Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire. In contrast to
the experience of the nearby ‘happy village’ of Puttenham, where all
who served in the Great War survived, 11 of the serving
villagers of Buckland fell in the conflict.
There being no village green, the Buckland War Memorial - a
white cross of Bath stone - was erected to the left of the
lychgate in the churchyard of All Saints church. It was
dedicated on the 23rd May,1920, by the Suffragan Bishop of
Buckingham together with the Rectors of Buckland, Aston Clinton,
and Drayton Beauchamp.
The Buckland War Memorial.
Little Gaddesden, Hudnall and Ringshall.
Twenty-three of the inhabitants of the hamlets of Little Gaddesden, Hudnall
and Ringshall who served in the armed forces
during the Great War did not return. Their names are
listed on Little Gaddesden’s unusual war memorial, a wall fountain brought from
Italy. It was unveiled by Baron Brownlow in September 1921.
“The Memorial opposite the Little
Gaddesden entrance to Ashridge Drive, and at the end of
the Green outside John O’Gaddesden’s House was erected
in 1920-21. The design is Italian, and Mrs Wheatley,
wife of Lord Brownlow’s agent and cousin of Lady
Brownlow, brought back from Italy both the concept and
some of the material. Harry Temple made the oak truss
which carries the roof. At each end a bottle is built
into the ridge containing information placed there when
the Memorial was erected. The small cameo-type ornaments
are Italian. The names of the 29 men from Little
Gaddesden who died in the two World Wars are inscribed
on the Memorial.
Each Remembrance Sunday a ceremony takes place here,
before which, 29 poppies are placed at the foot of the
memorial by the Royal British Legion. A wreath from the
Legion and one from the Women’s Institute are placed
beside them. Two minutes silence is observed during the
ceremony and the Berkhamsted Brass Band plays the hymn
‘O Valiant Hearts’, and ‘Last Post’ and ‘Reveille’.
The Royal British Legion takes care of the Memorial and
restored it in 1974-76.”
Little Gaddesden and Ashridge
by Howard Senar, pub.1983.
Cheddington. A garden
fete and other functions held during 1922 raised the £120
necessary to erect an obelisk of grey granite on the village
green, the names of the fallen being inscribed on its base.
The unveiling ceremony took place on Sunday 24th December 1922,
a large crowd being present. Mr. E. Archer, Secretary of
the War Memorial Committee, accepted an invitation as the father
of one of the men commemorated, to perform the ceremony and the
memorial was subsequently dedicated by the Rector, the Rev. W.
Elliott. The parish council then accepted custody of the
memorial for all time and responsibility for its maintenance.
Ivinghoe. On Sunday the 26th September 1920, in the
presence of a large crowd Lord Brownlow unveiled the cross erected
in front of the parish church in memory of the men of Ivinghoe who
fell in the war. Following the unveiling his lordship read out
the fifteen names inscribed on the memorial. He then went on
to say that they had met on a very sad occasion. They could
not help deploring the death of those gallant men who had given
their lives and all felt the deepest sympathy with those friends and
relations who lost their dear ones in the Great War, but they
rejoiced that the cause for which they gave their lives had
triumphed. An address was then made by Mr. A. Dollimore on
behalf of the local Wesleyans following which a quartet of buglers
from RAF Halton sounded the ‘Last Post’.
Practically the whole village was present at the unveiling and
dedication of the village war memorial on Sunday the 2nd
January, 1921. They assembled in spite of the rain to
honour the memory of the 23 men of Wigginton who had given their
lives during the conflict. The Bishop of Litchfield said
that he thought the people of Wigginton had done well in
choosing a cross as their memorial to the fallen, for a cross meant
everything to Christians. The unveiling ceremony was
performed by Earl Kitchener of Khartoum, dressed in uniform,
following which the Bishop of Litchfield dedicated the memorial.
Many wreaths, crosses and other tributes to the memory of the
fallen were placed at the foot of the cross, both before and
after the ceremony.
Aldbury. The Aldbury Peace Memorial Institute
(not to be confused with the much older Memorial Hall opposite
the village green) was built by public subscription in honour of
those returning from the front after the First World War.
Their first action was to create their own tribute to the fallen
by raising their names on a slate that still hangs inside the
hall. Outside the hall is another later plaque that bears
Founded in memory of all 26
village men who served and fell in the 1914-18 War.
Aldbury Peace Memorial
The memorial plaque shown above is on the nave wall of the
church of St John the Baptist, Aldbury.