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British Legion Leader and War Memorial

Rushden Echo and Argus, 24th December, 1943, transcribed by Gill Hollis

New War Memorial: It’s ‘Grim’spaces
Rushden Legion Tribute - Impressive Service

  Honour to 61 Rushden people, who have made the supreme sacrifice of the present war and whose names are the first on a new memorial, was paid at the British Legion Hall on Monday.  The memorial has been placed on the wall at the back of the platform of the British Legion Hall, and the scrolls allow for the addition of other names which are printed in old English.

  The memorial was dedicated on Monday by the Rev. Edwin Hirst, Vicar of St. Peter’s Church, and there were also present at the service the Rev. R. P. Jones (Park-road Baptist), Dr. D. G. Greenfield (president of the Rushden branch), Coun. A. F. Weale, J.P. (Chairman of the Rushden Urban Council), Coun. Mrs. A. U. Muxlow (Chairman of the Women’s section of the Legion), and Mr. R. Denton (Chairman of the men’s section).  Mrs. L. Clark was the piano accompanist for two hymns which were sung during the dedication service.

  Following the hymn “All people that on earth do dwell,” Mr. Jones offered prayers and then read a passage of Scripture.

  The unveiling of the memorial cabinet was carried out by Dr. Greenfield who said he had always been interested in the work of the British Legion.  He felt that they had done a vast amount of good after the last war, and now they were doing something to preserve the memory of those who had lost their lives in the present war.  The list was not quite complete, but would be added to as information came in.  That memorial showed that the people were not unmindful of those who had made the great sacrifice.  Fortunately the list was not so vast, so far, as was the list of casualties of Rushden people in the last war, though that might not mean so much to those who had lost their dear ones.  He prayed God that the casualties would not reach the number of last time.  The town would always hold in reverence the memory of those who had lost their lives.

  The Vicar dedicated the memorial, the audience standing, and he read out the 45 names of those who have been killed or have died on active service, and 16 of those who were killed by enemy action over this country.

Poignant Significance

  Mr. Hirst said they were names of those who had given their all in the struggle for freedom in which they were all engaged.  The blank spaces were a grim reminder that the town might yet be required to pay even more in terms of human suffering and human life before the struggle was ended.  Men had always sought by memorials to perpetuate the memory of great victories, great mercies and of great men and women.  That memorial also reminded them of their debts to humanity.  But it could not take the place of the memorial that was in their hearts.  The British Legion had rendered a signal service to Rushden in the provision of that memorial.  Each name on the memorial had a significance for them and a very poignant significance for those of the family circle to which they had belonged.  The names on the roll represented regions from the North Cape in the north of Europe to North Africa, from China to Australia. The seven seas had witnessed heroic sacrifices of sailors, and the sky had had its own toll of glory.  Some had worn the King’s uniform, and one had worn the uniform of the Salvation Army.  It was perhaps the most tragic that the names included little children who had wronged no one – but they also gave their all, and their memorial was like that of the Holy Innocents of Bethlehem who gave their lives for Christ.  The cause for which all those people died was now the responsibility of those who were living; it was a struggle for a Christian civilisation and all that phrase meant.  He would like to see added to the words “Lest we forget,” over the panel, the text, “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.”

  The ceremony ended with the singing of the National Anthem, and the blessing, pronounced by the Vicar.

  The memorial takes the form of a vertical case in oak with glass doors.  The lists of names are at present printed on cards which are fixed inside the case.  Across the top in gilt are the words “lest we forget.” Forty-five of the people whose names are on the lists died on active service and 16 were killed in air raids in Rushden or elsewhere.

Rushden Echo & Argus 22nd Dec 1944

Let Rushden Decide for Itself

Criticism of recent remarks that it had been a waste of money in the past to build war memorial monuments was made by Mr. Robt. Denton, chairman of the Rushden branch of the British Legion, at their annual meeting in the legion hall on Monday evening.

Mr. Denton said it might be a matter of sentiment, but the erection of monuments was not a waste of money. He did not like the idea of the town's own war memorial being a new wing of Northampton Hospital.

"If they leave the war memorial of the town to us, they will get both, he continued. "There is enough money in Rushden for a memorial and also to give aid to Northampton. Whether it is sentiment or not, our men's names should be engraved on some wall, whether on a cottage hospital or another memorial."

Service Recognised

Mr. Ernest Bennett, late secretary of the Branch, was presented with cheques from the members and the committee upon the occasion of his retirement. Mr Denton spoke for the members and Mr. F. Eyre for the committee.

In response Mr. Bennett said he had had a good committee and officials to work with, and the townspeople had been at the back of him. He wished success to the new secretary, Mr. J. T. W. Waplington, to whom he offered his help on any occasion.

A prize of one guinea had been, offered by Mr. F. Noble to the member who obtained the largest number of new members. This was shared by Mr. L. Clark and Mr. E. Bennett. A silver membership cup given by Mr Bennett will be held by Mr. Clark for six months.

Big Membership

In the annual report it was disclosed that the Branch is now 960 strong, and there are more than 1,400 hon. members among those now on war service. A certificate of merit was won again in the Haig Cup competition. The Branch Advice Bureau had had a successful year. Sixteen pensions totalling £22 18s. 6d. per week, five increases on previous pensions totalling £5 6s. per week, and 11 war service grants totalling £9 2s. per week had been obtained. In addition were dental and sickness grants from the Ministry of Pensions of £51 5s. and back pay of £255 for pension cases.

On the General Account balance sheet, subscriptions amounted to £131, expenditure was £213 and there was a balance of £136. Income for the Benevolent Fund included £155 from dances, £40 from the Holiday Fete, a £28 donation the American Forces, £349 from the February Fund and £25 from the sale of "Salute the Soldier" emblems. Cash grants of £103 had been paid out of this fund and there is a balance of £988.

Hall Surplus

A balance of £88 remained in the Prisoners of War Fund, which spent £14 on next-of-kin parcels. The Legion Hall maintenance account showed a profit of £516 income including £463 from dances and £305 from whist drives. Altogether the Legion Hall account shows a surplus of nearlv £3,000.

The following appointments were made: President. Dr. D. G. Greenfield; vice-presidents re-elected with the addition of Mr. W. Brown and Mr. Don Bugby: chairman, Mr. R. Denton; vice-chairman Mr. F. Eyre: treasurer. Mr. S. N. Brooks: secretary, Mr. J. T. W. Waplington: membership secretary, Mr. L. Clark: general committee, Messrs. L. Clark, F. Dickens. W. Parrott, J. Barker, W. J. Smith, J. Bailey, C. Minney, H Ball, W. Elliott, F. Cloyton, C. Adams, W. A. C. Layrum, F. Greaves, J. Allen. G. Giles, H. T. Gates, S. Parker, W. Jaques, W. G. Thake, A. Childs, Tom Bennett, H. Whiting, Stevenson, F. W. Noble, Dilley, Furniss, Fred Smith, F. Toby, Starmer, Matson and D. Neville: standard bearer, Mr. F. Dickens; Union Jack bearer, Mr. W. A. C. Layrum; auditor Mr. E. W. Pacey, A.L.A.A.

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