Today, on the 100th anniversary of the dedication of QE’s World War I memorial, the 2021 School Captain laid a poppy wreath on behalf of current pupils to remember the sacrifice of their forebears more than a century ago.
Commissioned at a time when the horrors of the ‘war to end all wars’ were still fresh in the memory, the tablet records the names of 48 Elizabethans who died in the conflict. The memorial may be seen in the ‘crush hall’ of the Main Building, close to the main entrance and Reception.
Attached to the wreath laid by School Captain Siddhant Kansal was a note on Royal British Legion-headed paper on which he wrote: “On the centenary of this memorial, we remember those who gave their lives so that we may enjoy the opportunities we have today.”
Headmaster Neil Enright said: “It is right for us to remember the sacrifices that Elizabethans in previous generations have made to enable us to experience the freedoms and opportunities we do.
“That tradition of serving the greater good remains an essential element of the School’s mission today and it is, therefore, appropriate that a memorial to service takes pride of place at the heart of the Main Building, alongside our founding charter.”
The bronze tablet was originally installed at the School’s historic buildings in Wood Street and formally unveiled at 4pm on Saturday 8th October 1921. It was transported to the current site when the School moved to Queen Street in 1932, with a rededication service held on 21st September of that year. (The rededication service was also a commemoration of the life of Rev John Bond Lee, Headmaster 1875–1906.)
World War I hostilities ceased with the Armistice on 11th November 1918, but, in common with many war memorials, QE’s memorial bears the dates 1914–1919, reflecting the fact that the Treaty of Versailles which formally brought to an end the state of war between Germany and the Allied Powers was not signed until June 1919.
The list of names is surmounted by the traditional legend, ‘In Memoriam’, while underneath is written simply ‘Faithful unto Death’ – a Biblical quotation from the Revelation to St John.
According to the order of service published for the service of dedication, a copy of which may be viewed online in QE Collections, the ceremony was conducted by the Rev Dr H W P Stephens, Vicar of Tadlow in Cambridgeshire, an Old Elizabethan known to have been at the School in 1876. He returned again in 1932 to lead the rededication service.
The roll of honour was read by the Headmaster of the day, William Lattimer (1906–1929). The service featured a hymn still sung today on Founder’s Day – For all the saints, who from their labours rest – and included other hymns, as well as prayers and readings.
The memorial itself was unveiled by Lieutenant-Colonel C H Pank CMG DSO TD, of the Middlesex Regiment, who also gave the address. Buglers from the same regiment sounded the Last Post and Reveille.
The dedication written for the occasion was: “In the Faith of Jesus Christ we dedicate this Memorial to the Glory of God and in proud and loving memory of those Elizabethans who gave their lives in the Great War in the cause of Right and Liberty. In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.”
- The photo, above left, which is from QE Collections, is believed to have been taken on the day of the dedication in 1921.