Friday, December 01, 2006

Behind the names

War memorials are a familiar sight in the landscape of the UK . According to the Oxford English Dictionary, a memorial, is “a sign of remembrance; preserving or intended to preserve the memory of a person or thing”. One can also say that it acts as an object “reuniting those who were separated by a conflict”. They also provide insight into not only the changing face of commemoration but also military, social and art history.

In 1919 Saltburn was a small town of about 3,000 people. Life was beginning to return to normal following the end of the 1914-18 war. Sixty-three local men had been killed in the conflict, and like many small towns across the country, Saltburn was struggling to raise the funds to pay for a suitable memorial in recognition of the sacrifice these men had made.
Lieutenant Wilfred Evelyn Littleboy, aged 21, killed in action at Ypres (now Ieper) on Tuesday 9th October 1917 was the youngest son of Charles William and Agnes Evelyn Littleboy, who lived at Woodlands, Victoria Road, Saltburn. Mr and Mrs Littleboy offered to commission and pay for a suitable memorial and present it to the town.
Sir WIlliam Reynolds-Stephens of the Royal Society of British Sculptors, was approached by the War Memorial committee to design the memorial and he visited the town to select the most suitable site specific position for the memorial. His design is one of a broad-armed cross with a short shaft of grey granite standing on top of a slightly tapering pedestal and base, also of granite. The relief sculpture on the cross depicts two angels praying at the head and foot of a recumbent Jesus Christ. Two relief laurel wreaths decorate each side of the pedestal. The wording on top of the Memorial is 'Sacrifice'. At the base we read ' We have no glory great enough for you.'
The unveiling and dedication of the memorial took place on 14th November 1920 by Major-General Sir Percy Wilkinson KCMG, CB. Archdeacon Lindsay repeated the Dedicatory Prayers and the Reverand A Antrobus led the congregational singing of 'Abide With Me'.
This Grade II listed structure stands today in its selected position on Camp Bank surrounded by a beautiful, well maintained garden. It bears the names of 63 soldiers who died in the first conflict and 20 names from the Second World War.

Walking past the cenotaph one morning in 2003 prompted Mr Ian Bedford into stopping and reading the names. Wondering about their lives and where in the town they had lived and worked he decided to research the names and find some answers to his questions. The result of this research is now available in a book which he has just published. Copies are available from Mr Bedford who can be contacted on 01287 623246 or by email

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