A contemporary report of
The Dedication of the WAR MEMORIAL CROSS BY

(The Ven. C. L. Dundas)
ON NOVEMBER 30th, 1919



In the quietude and peacefulness of a Sabbath afternoon, and in the presence of a large and reverent congregation, the Archdeacon of Dorset (the Ven. C. L. Dundas) on Sunday dedicated the memorial cross that had been erected near Stratton church by subscriptions from over 180 parishioners as a tribute to the fallen in the Great War, who gave their lives in the service of their country that others might live in freedom. The cross consists of an octagonal solid stone basement 9ft. in diameter and two stone steps with a socket stone 18in. deep, surmounted by an octagonal staff, 9ft 6in. high - a monolith cut from a solid block of fine grained Purbeck stone from the "Portland" bed. The arms of the cross are encircled with the wreath of Victory in laurel leaves, a Crusader's sword being carved on the front face of the cross, memorialising in a special sense the service and sacrifice of the dead. In the centre panel of the base stone is the following inscription: - "1919. This monument commemorates those from the parish who, at call of King and Country, left all that was dear to them, endured hardships, faced danger, and finally made the supreme sacrifice that others might live in freedom." On the side panels are the following names of those from the village who thus gave their lives for their country :- Lieutenant-Colonel E. Alexander Pope, D.S.O., the Welsh Regiment; Lieutenant-Colonel A. R. Haig-Brown, D.S.O., the Middlesex Regiment; Captain C. A. W. Pope, R.A.M. Corps; Second-Lieutenant Percy P. Pope, the Welsh Regiment; Lance-Corporal R. F. Gifford, 21st Battalion Canadian Infantry; Lance-Corporal Ernest Brett, Royal Irish Rifles; Gunner A. C. Bell, R.G.A.; Private Arthur Godden, the Dorset Regiment; Private H. G. Amor, Dorset Regiment; Driver S. O'Brien, R.F.A.

The monument was erected by the Purbeck Stone Companies from drawings prepared by Mr. F. T. Maltby, architect, Dorchester, somewhat on the lines of the fine memorial cross designed by Sir Reginald Blomfield as seen in the courtyard of Burlington House at the recent exhibition of war memorials of the Royal Academy, and is not only an ornament to the village, but stands as a reminder of the Great War to those who come after which no time can ever efface.

The note of solemnity that was apparent throughout the village was intensified by the hoisting of flags at half-mast on the church tower and in private residences, and by the tolling of the church bell. An invitation to attend the dedication service, which was fixed for half past two, had been sent to every subscriber, as well as to all service men of the parish and to the relatives of the glorious dead whose names are mentioned on the cross. Headed by the Rev. Ian Eliot (priest-in-charge, Stratton), there was an imposing parade of between 40 and 50 men who had served either in the Regular Forces or the Dorset Volunteer Regiment. Once again they donned the khaki uniforms in which they had so nobly upheld the honour of the old country, and by many of them war ribbons were worn on their tunics. Another khaki-clad contingent was also present in the Dorchester Company of the Church Lads' Brigade, who, to the number of 64, had marched over with their band from the county town under the command of Sergeant B. J. Barnes, and accompanied by their Chaplain (Rev. R. G. Bartelot, vicar of Fordington St. George and brother-in-law of the four gallant officers who names appear on the cross. The Dorchester branch of the Comrades of the Great War was represented by Messrs. G. Board, J. Pomeroy, H. R. Smyth, W. Seymour, F. Ormes, and T. Shave.

The service began in the church with the singing of the hymn, "Soldiers who are Christ's below." As the hymn proceeded the Archdeacon, Canon W. G. Barclay, R.D. (vicar of Charminster), surpliced choir, and congregation left the church and took up their position near the cross, and were joined by Rev. T. G. Phillips and the congregation from the Wesleyan Church. Here the scene was most impressive. The men and lads in khaki lined the roadway, with the general congregation behind them, and all hearts went out to the relatives of the deceased officers and soldiers as they stood by the monument. There were present Mr. and Mrs. Alfred Pope, who had three sons and a son-in-law commemorated on the cross; Mrs. E. Alexander Pope, Mrs. A. R. Haig-Brown, and Mrs. Charles Pope (widows), Mrs. and Miss Gifford (mother and sister), Mr. and Mrs. Godden (father and mother), Mrs. O'Brien (widow). The form of service used was taken from the Book of Occasional Offices authorised for use in the diocese of Salisbury. The opening sentences were recited impressively by the Archdeacon, and then Mrs. E. A. Pope, widow of the late Lieut.-Colonel E. A. Pope, D.S.O., performed the unveiling ceremony by removing the Union Jack that had been draped around the inscribed panels. An appropriate prayer was said, and the hymn, "When I survey the wondrous Cross," was sung with much tenderness and feeling. Other Prayers followed, and then all eyes were dimmed as the pathetic notes of the "Last Post" were sounded by three buglers - Private Valentine (Dorset Regiment), Sergeant B. J. Burden and Norris (Church Lads' Brigade). All present then returned in processional order to the church, the hymn, "There is a blessed home," being sung meanwhile.

The ARCHDEACON delivered an inspiring address from the Divine command. "Do this in remembrance of Me." This is a day of remembrance (he said) in this parish. We are to remember the dead in gratitude and in deepest thankfulness for all we owe to them. In honour bound we have to remember them - as patterns and models for us in our own lives. We have to remember them as something more than mere patterns and examples - we have to regard them as an inspiration, a power, and an energy flowing from them to us. And what is it we have to remember? It is noble deeds nobly done. It is those proofs of the possibilities of human nature which they gave us. We think better of human nature today than we did five years ago, and have the right to think better of it. They have shown us that human nature, with all its faults, is capable of great deeds, and that there is a nobility in it that we must admire and respect. Whence came these noble deeds and the capacity for self-sacrifice? We can only trace it back to the One Source - the Cross of Jesus Christ. And yet again they have given to us the basis for a better Britain. If, as we hope and pray, in the years to come our British life will be something higher and better, and something more Christian than it has appeared to be in the past, we shall owe it to the foundation which they laid by their example and life, yea, by their death. Thank God, we have much to remember. Those whose names are inscribed on the memorial cross outside the church gave up their lives, but there are others who gave up. There are mothers who gave up their sons, wives who gave up their husbands, and children who gave up their fathers. Cannot they be remembered too? And we need a reminder that we may remember them by our loving sympathy and kindly help, and by our reverent regard for those who made the great sacrifice. And so to remember and to be reminded you have provided a war memorial. A war memorial we call it, - not a memorial of the war, but a memorial to men, living or dead, who won the war; most of all, however, for the men who lost their lives. In losing their lives they saved them by taking up the Cross and following Christ in self-devoted service, self-consecration, and self-sacrifice. They gained a higher and a better life, not for themselves alone, but for us and the world. If this be indeed a true war memorial, and if we really remember them - and surely we will - we will today sign, as it were, the declaration "By God's help we will never forget." If we thus remember them, then our lives will not be allowed to sink down and fall back again into that sordid selfishness which they too often were before. When we look back, how we hate those selfish and often vicious lives, so unlike the lives of those who died, so unlike the lives of those who had fought after they had surrendered themselves to fight unto death. Whenever you pass that cross and look upon it, as you will, with reverence and respect, whenever you uncover your head in passing it as a token of thankfulness and reverence, it will speak to your hearts, and remind you of that self-forgetting devotion, that self-forgetting love and service, that sense of brotherhood and service to others which make and mark the true man.

When you want to see a man, read the inscription on the cross, read again and again those names written there in stone, but written deeper still in your own hearts and minds, and say "These are men; this is the way to live a man's life." We some of us thought in our foolish youth that to be a man we must not give any sign whatever of religious faith, and that to be a man we must - well, you know what. But to be a man you know what it is now - read it upon that cross. Yes, and as you pass that cross shall it not strengthen you in your resolve not to be unworthy of a glorious death, but to be worthy to be called his brother and worthy to be a member of the same village and one of the same family as he was. How beautifully that is suggested - at least it is, to my mind - by seeing as it were bracketted together the names of four members of the same family inscribed on the cross, for the family is a picture of the true society, and that idea is worth preserving - true brothers of the same family dying in the same way, fighting for the same cause; brothers by birth, brothers in life, and brothers in death. Isn't that just what we want to be, what we seek and strive and pray to be - true brothers? And those four bracketted together show us how the same beautiful family feeling and the same true brotherhood extend far beyond the limits of the earthly human family and live to the family of God. Ah, my brothers and sisters, you younger men and women who still have before you the expectation of life, what opportunities are given to you compared to us older ones, who merely get a glimpse of what might be, and of what we hope may be seen in our social and common life! I trust that you may live to make it a reality, to see it grow and develop and take your part in it as soldiers of the Cross; and willing to give liberally of all that you have, of body, soul, and spirit, to win for God and Christ, your village, your country, and the world, willing to lose your lives and strive so to follow in the steps of your brothers in God that your life - and they died that you might live - may be such that they need not, as they look down upon us from time to time, be ashamed to call you brothers, because you are worthy of the name.

The memorial service had an impressive finale. After the unveiling ceremony wreaths were placed by relatives and friends at the base of the cross. On one wreath was a dedicatory card inscribed "With deepest Sympathy and respect from the Dorchester branch, Comrades of the Great War -'Then steadily, shoulder to shoulder, Steadily, blade by blade, Ready and strong, marching along Like the boys of the Old Brigade.'"

As the congregation solemnly dispersed "O Rest in the Lord" was feelingly played on the organ and a muffled peal was rung in honour of our Glorious Dead.

A Roll of Honour of all those from the parish of Stratton who have served is being prepared and will be placed in the church.

Stratton War Memorial – Dedication Service 1919


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