"MILDENHALL WAR MEMORIAL"
To the eternal memory of the men and women of MILDENHALL who died in the service of their country
6 in the Boer War
86 in the Great War of 1914-1919 and 33 in 1939-1945
and also 3 ladies killed in 1939-1945
A serious impediment to research on this particular monument is the manner in which various local bodies have treated it in the past, adding names and seemingly removing them as the mood took, repairs incorrectly carried out and no attempt towards rectification. Some of those names that have so far defied identification may quite possibly be duplicates or typos. Anything seems possible. The search will go on, but without any real hope of 100% certainty.
The memorial stands on a small island at the junction of Kingsway (A1101) and King's Street. A Portland stone statue of a soldier with rifle, standing at ease tops a 16 feet high square stone pillar on a three stepped base on a paved area surrounded by 8 bollards linked by chain. On each face are polished granite panels, seemingly replacing the original inscribed panels. The dedication is on the front face (facing North), on the East and West faces are inscribed the names of the 86 fallen of the Great War and the South face bears the names of 33 from 1939-145 and also 3 ladies who died in that conflict.
The dedication reads:-TO/THE GLORY OF GOD/AND IN GRATEFUL MEMORY/OF THE MEN AND WOMEN/OF THIS PARISH/WHO GAVE THEIR LIVES/IN THE TWO WORLD WARS/1914-1918/1939 -1945/THEIR NAME LIVETH FOR EVERMORE.
The original dedication read
AND IN GRATEFUL MEMORY OF
105 OFFICER, NCOs AND MEN OF THIS
PARISH OF MILDENHALL
WHO FELL IN THE GREAT WAR 1914-1919
THESE, AT THE CALL OF KING AND
COUNTRY, LEFT ALL THAT WAS DEAR TO
THEM, ENDURED HARDNESS, FACED
DANGER AND FINALLY PASSED OUT
OF THE SIGHT OF MEN BY THE PATH
OF DUTY AND SELF-SACRIFICE,
GIVING UP THEIR OWN LIVES THAT
OTHERS MIGHT LIVE IN
LET THOSE WHO COME AFTER SEE TO IT
THAT THEY DID NOT DIE IN VAIN
Quite why the decision was made to change the wording and play fast and loose with the names is hard to understand, it is a most unusual occurrence thankfully
Unveiled 24 October 1920 by Major E.E. Pearson (Commanding Suffolk Depot, Bury St.Edmunds. The builders were Messrs. H. G. Neville & Son. The statue was carved from one block of Portland stone by Messrs Bradford Bros., of London and stands on a pedestal and steps of Leckampston stone. The event was recorded in the Bury Free Press on 30th October 1920.
In addition there is a plaque honouring and naming those who died in 1939-1945 inside St Mary's Church and a scroll with the names of all who served in the Great War. Also some men, not named on the memorial were commemorated on their family monuments in the Old Cemetery which has sadly become derelict.
The memorial suffered damage by vandals and in the process of repairing it, it seems by persons who had never served in the Armed Forces, the rifle was re-assembled such that the foresight is now on the underside and the bayonet lugs on the top of the weapon. Perhaps one day this may be corrected.
Originally there were 105 names inscribed, but six more were added at the end of 1921.
Then for some reason the number of names was reduced to only 86. It may be thought this was done to remove the Beck Row/West Row/Kenny Hill men as those villages had their own memorial, but there are still men from all these villages remaining on the Mildenhall memorial. This seems to have been carried out after 1945, by "shaving" the column and inscribing all new lettering, at the same time adding the WW2 names, but evidence has not yet been found. It seems likely that this was when the names on the east and west panels were reversed.
A photograph of high enough resolution has yet to be found that will enable us to read the original names, they are however recorded in the Bury Free Press at the time. It shows also that the front face had a much longer dedication. The Officers and N.C.O.s, headed the Privates on the east face, the entire west face being Privates. This was not uncommon, and not done by any reason of preferential treatment by rank, but to reduce considerably the amount of engraving and to give more space to the lettering. (it is actual the same system as on the Menin Gate within the regimental lists). It seems rather strange and disturbing that after so many years some people saw fit to change historical records by removing names. One wonders what the descendants of these men think. After all, at the time, these settlements were considered to be part of Mildenhall.
To add the the convoluted history of the monument, F.J. Halls was added some time after the names were removed, and then in 1954, W Jaggard was added When the new panels were stuck over the old inscriptions, it does appear that the only changes were to get the 86 names in the correct alphabetical order.
There always seems to be some sort of controversy about the memorial. Someone actually unofficially unveiled it nearly three weeks before the official unveiling, but as the Bury Free Press of 2nd October 1920 reported, no damage was done and the monument was veiled again. Seemingly it was a protest over the delay of the official ceremony. It doesn't end there, there seems to be a name on the memorial of a WW1 man who actually survived until the 1950's but this could be mis-identification.
In addition, in 1946 the British Legion had to make strong representation when it was proposed at the council that the statue of the soldier would be removed. There seems to be no rhyme or reason to this scheme and the British Legion eventually won the day.
THE rifle.....in 2015..............how it should be
from the left, the 2 original faces, the resolution of photos is barely enough to accurately read the inscriptions or names resolution but it has been just possible to read the names showing 10 officers and NCOs and 34 Privates on the east face and 53 Privates on the west face, and a much longer dedication than now. On 13th January 1922 the Bury and Norwich Post reported that a further 6 names were added:- A Jessup - A Leonard - J.Walker - O.E.Scott - P Rolfe ( or Rolph)- Capt.Ord R Ord. These six addition were completed by December 1921 and the total figure on the monument changed to 111.
It appears that 28 names were later removed:-
R.Aves - A Butcher - C Butcher MM - H Butcher - B-Fenn - A Gipp - R Halls - A J Hayes - G Ingle DCM - G Leonard - J Mizen - H W Morley - J Morley - R J Neal - J W Palmer - E J Payne - C Powell - C Powell - A Rumbelow - G Rutterford - S Rutterford - W Sparkes - A Stone - E Taylor - A W Webb - T Webb - R Wells and G Wicks
This was presumably when the entire monument was smoothed off and every inscription removed before adding the WW2 names. The dedication was then made much shorter and the above names had vanished, although some time before the granite panels were added, F J Balls and W Jaggard were put back on.
The J.Mizen was actually James FULLER who appears on no other memorial either as Mizen or Fuller. Also, on the original list there were two R.Wells, one a Corporal and the other a Lance Corporal. L/Cpl Robert Wells is still on the memorial, the search goes on for Cpl R. Wells
It may look as if the decision was made to remove the West Row, Beck Row and Kenny Hill names as they had their own memorials (all in place it seems before Mildenhall Parish anyway) but careful investigation shows there are still men from these villages named on the memorial today (2018) and currently some of the removed names have not yet been identified as I did not know they were there until January 2018. A comparison with the memorials in the church seems to be very necessary also.
The entry in the Bury Free Press of 30th October 1920
A 2007 ? photo showing the different dedication face (BEFORE the granite panels were added)
The left image shows the names just before the installation of the granite panels, F.J. Halls and W Jaggard have been added and the east and west faces reversed from the original and finally as it is today (2018).
A cannon was sited near the memorial a little later, but this was removed during World War Two during the campaign to gather scrap metal for the war effort. The men in the photo (late 1920's) are presumed to be, from the left, Charlie Young, Ted Hurrell, Hugh Youngs and Ted Sparrow
Memorial plaque in St.Mary's Church