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Lest We Forget
by Wendy Austin and Ian Petticrew

In 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.)

In 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 War Memorial.
  The village school at the rear was destroyed
by bombing during WWII.

Long Marston.  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.

Unveiling of the Long Marston war memorial, 7th August 1921.

Wilstone War Memorial.

Marsworth War Memorial.

Marsworth.  The 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.

Wilstone.  Three 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 trumpeters.

Unveiling the Wilstone War Memorial, 3rd October 1921.

Puttenham.  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 itself:

A Thankful Village: 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’.

Wigginton.  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.

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 the inscription:
Founded in memory of all 26 village men who served and fell in the 1914-18 War.

Aldbury Peace Memorial Institute.

The memorial plaque shown above is on the nave wall of the church of St John the Baptist, Aldbury.



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