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August 1921

Eaton Bray's Tribute - Unveiling of War Memorial

This article was published in August 1921. Please see Latest News for more recent information.

Thirty-three men from the parish of Eaton Bray gave their lives in the war, and on Sunday afternoon the memorial cross erected in the Churchyard to their memory was unveiled by Mr S Howard Whitbread, Lord Lieutenant of Bedfordshire, in the presence of a large gathering representatives of all denominations in the parish and the surrounding district, visitors being present from Dunstable, Totternhoe, Edlesborough, Northall and Leighton Buzzard. The cross is composed mainly of red and grey Scotch granite, and stands about 15 feet high. There is a base of Forest of Dean granite surmounted by a second base and a polished four panelled die. An inscription on the front panel reads - In grateful memory of the men from this parish who gave their lives for their country in the Great War 1914-1918. "Their name liveth for evermore". On the three other panels in raised lead letters are the 33 names. Much work has been done by the War Memorial Committee to beautify the surroundings since the memorial was erected some weeks ago. The approach is well laid out and there is also an iron rail enclosure. The total cost of the memorial was in the neighbourhood of £300.

Accompanying the Lord Lieutenant within the enclosure were the Vicar. The Rev. J. Carter who dedicated the memorial "to the glory of God and in memory of his servants the men of the village who laid down their lives." Mr W. J. Mallett, representing the Wesleyan community, Mr Alfred Thorne (Baptists) and Captain Allison, the Salvation Army. The last named read the first seven verses of Revelations xxi, and the prayers were said by the Vicar and Mr Mallett. The Salvation Army Band led the singing of the hymns. The service included the anthem "What are These" which was sung by the day school children under the direction of Mr Getliffe, and concluded by the sounding of the Last Post by Bandmaster Willis Cook of the Salvation Army. During the service a Bodyguard was formed by the local ex-service men and a contingent of the Dunstable Branch of the British Legion. The Rev. J. C. Williams, Vicar of Totternhoe was also present.

In the course of his address Mr S. H. Whitbread said there could not be other than thoughts of sadness occur to those who were there that day. There must be some who looked back to the past years and thought of brothers and sons whose bones lay in distant lands and in respect of whom there was no grave in the peaceful Churchyard which they could tend with loving care and lay flowers upon. To such as they he offered the belief as a Christian that Gods mercy and loving kindness was everywhere and if they believed this they surely must know that. His mercy was vouchsafed equally to those who died amidst the din and dust of war as to those whose bodies were in our quiet homes surrounded by friends and whose bones lay in our peaceful Churchyards. He saw that their tribute was described as a memorial. The word war was not mentioned : we needed no memorial of war. None of us who had lived in this peaceful country in the middle of a peaceful land would ever forget the war, but human memory was short and fleeting and as the years passed by poignant memory of those dark years was apt to recede somewhat into the past. It was therefore good of them to have placed in the immediate neighbourhood of their noble Church a memorial to remind them of the dark days of the war. We were proud to think that though we were a peaceful nation though we had been described by cynics as a nation of shopkeepers , that was in the British nature that dogged foundation which would not tolerate the unjust ambitions of others. Let us never forget that for some 4 years our sons and brothers went out and spent their lives for us and to preserve for this country the peaceful nature and aspect we so much cherished. Let us keep their names engraved upon stone that those who passed that memorial might look upon their names not with sorrow but with pride and gladness and see that the spirit which animated these men was still amongst us and that sons and grandsons as they grew up , followed in the footsteps of those who had gone before.

Relatives of the fallen laid wreaths around the memorial and there were other tributes from Mr W. E. Wallace , the officers, bandsman, soldiers and friends of the Eaton Bray Salvation Army Corps, the Dunstable Comrades of the Great War and "In proud and grateful memory of those who gave their lives for us" from the scholars of the Mixed and Infants Council School.

Source: Dunstable Gazette Wednesday 3rd August 1921