Times and Advertiser - Friday 03 June 1904, page 5:
South African War Memorial.
UNVEILING OF THE MONUMENT AT BEDFORD.
Thursday (yesterday) was a big day at Bedford, being the occasion
of the unveiling of the monument erected on the square in front
of the Swan Hotel in memory of the Bedfordshire men who lost their
lives in the South African War. In order that the day might partake
of the character a general holiday, aquatic sports and a procession
of decorated boats on the river were arranged, as also minstrel
entertainments from a raft in the river, while the pretty riverside
gardens of St. Mary's were illuminated in the evening. Being early
closing day, the townspeople turned out en masse in honour of the
occasion, and many visitors were attracted to the town by reason
of the visit of the Bedfordshire. Militia and Imperial Yeomanry, who were
joined by the local Volunteer Detachment, and a contingent of the
Bedfords from Colchester. The Elementary Schools by order of the
Board Education, were granted a holiday in the afternoon. A committee,
of which the Mayor is president, also organised a collection for
the National Lifeboat Fund throughout the day.
The procession of boats the river was very pretty, and was headed
by a steam launch, on which the Mayor and Corporation embarked.
The decorated craft included two boats manned by the Volunteer Fire
Brigade, two by the Bohemian Concert Party, and one each representing
the Town, Grammar, and Modern School Rowing Clubs, while a large
number of private owners put on some very tastefully decorated boats.
These assembled between the Shire Hall and the Britannia Ironworks.
The aquatic sports off the Embankment included a polo match and
a team race between Cambridge University and Bedford, the Volunteer
Band playing on a decorated raft. The Bohemian Minstrel Troupe gave
performances on a raft from 2.30 to 4 p.m., and the Embankment and
river was thronged during these proceedings.
THE UNVEILING CEREMONY.
On Thursday the streets presented an animated appearance, and crowds
thronged the thoroughfares; soldiers in brilliant uniforms and Yeomen
dressed in khaki mingled with the spectators until the hour of the
ceremony—three o'clock—drew near.
About 750 of the men the Bedfordshire Militia, now encamped at Ampthill,
were conveyed to Bedford by two special trains. Squads of the Bedfordshire.
Yeomanry, also in camp for their annual training, at Old Warden,
as well as contingents of the 1st and 2nd Bedfordshire. Regiment, and of
the Volunteers, were present. The members of the Beds County Police,
who had served in the South African war, were also on parade. Amongst
the many officers present were Lieut.-Colonel Shuttleworth, Lord
Alwyne Compton, Major Brooks, Captain C. P. Hall, Captain Graham,
and Lieut. S. J. Green.
The military and the police guarded the square front of the Swan
Hotel. Nearly every man wore a medal, testifying to his patriotism
and the service he had rendered his country.
It was a magnificent spectacle. The brilliant uniforms and plumes
of the officers, the prancing steeds and glittering lances of the
Yeomanry, and the large concourse of civilians thronged on the town
bridge crossing the river, made up a scene that will long be remembered.
Within the enclosure congregated some of the most distinguished
residents the county.
Punctual to the hour, the Countess Cowper (who came to unveil the
statue on behalf of Earl Cowper) drove up, closely followed by his
Grace the Duke Bedford (wearing the insignia of the Garter), and
the Duchess of Bedford, who had travelled their motor car. The High
Sheriff (Mr. W. H. Allen) had arrived earlier, also had the Mayor
of Bedford (wearing his robes), the Clerk of the Peace, and other
On the scarlet carpet at the foot of the statue stood the Countess
Cowper, the Duke of Bedford, Bishop Macrorie, and the High Sheriff.
THE DUKE BEDFORD, in opening the proceedings, and addressing the
military present, said they all regretted that the Lord Lieutenant
(Earl Cowper) was unfortunately prevented from being present that
afternoon. It was a circumstance which they all regretted. His Grace
said he had, however, as Chairman of the Bedfordshire. Soldiers' Memorial
Committee, requested Lady Cowper to represent the Lord Lieutenant
and unveil that memorial to 230 of their soldier comrades. Then,
turning to the Countess Cowper, the Duke begged her Ladyship that
she would order the ceremony proceed.
The Countess bowed, and at a signal from the Duke, the Band of the
2nd Bedfordshire. Regiment played Chopin's Funeral March. This was followed
by three rolls of the drum, after which Bishop Macrorie read appropriate
The bugles then sounded the “Last Post,” and the troops
presented arms to the memory of the dead.
THE COUNTESS COWPER having pulled the cord and unveiled the statue,
amid much cheering, then addressed the large gathering as follows:
Ladies and gentlemen, may I first claim your attention and explain
that Earl Cowper is unable to be present, and I am here only to
represent him on this occasion. It was a great and bitter disappointment
to him when he found he would not able be here to-day. For six weeks
he has been suffering from very serious attack of illness, and he
has not yet been able to put his foot to the ground. Therefore,
it is practically impossible for him to be here to-day. He begged
to be sure and tell you how much disappointed and how much he regretted
his inability to be here on this important occasion. What could
be nearer to our hearts than the unveiling of this statue? I personally
regret Earl Cowper’s absence, because it is impossible that
any words of mine can ever be worthy of such occasion. This statue,
I take it, ladies and gentlemen, is not a portrait of any one man;
it is rather a type of what all Englishmen and Englishwomen are
justly proud—the man who served his country and his Sovereign,
the British soldier, of whom we have a right, too, be so proud.
Moreover, it is a type of those who have not made that splendid
profession their own, but who on the occasion of stress and when
more help was needed, came forward and left their dear ones and
families to join those who had gone before, and who stood shoulder
to shoulder with their fellows in the fight. Ladies and gentlemen,
we all remember those dark days three years ago, when heard the
call to arms, and the extraordinary and astonishing rapidity with
which regiments were formed. We have every right to be proud of
our soldiers. Moreover, the statue is a type of those men who take
their lives in their hands and who go forth to the struggle and
fight and face death, which comes to all, it must sometimes of necessity
come in this way; they are men who, I say, bravely and willingly
die heroes' deaths. This statue will stand here for the ages, reminding
us of the heroes who were not behind their fellows in their willingness
to do and die. And those old words, written so many centuries ago
of heroes, will apply to these heroes also: Dulce et decorum
est pro patria mori." (Loud cheers).
THE HIGH SHERIFF then expressed the thanks the Memorial Committee
to Lady Cowper for representing the Lord Lieutenant, whose absence
they all deeply regretted, as it was Earl Cowper who had taken the
initiative in the movement. However, they could get no one more
appropriate to unveil the memorial than Lady Cowper. Her name was
a household word this county and the next, and they all knew something
of how she identified herself with the families of fallen soldiers;
she had associated herself with this noble and magnificent work.
That monument had not been inspired by the artist; it was an actual
fact that had taken place in the great struggle in South Africa.
The memorial would stand there for many years, bearing testimony
to the brave deeds done by some of their countrymen, and would warm
the hearts of men for generation after generation. (Applause).
The bands then played the National Anthem, after which the troops
marched past, and the ceremony concluded.
The bronze statue, which arrived by the Midland Railway, was delivered
at the Swan Square on Monday morning, consigned from Messrs. Farmer
and Brindley, of Westminster Bridge-road, London. It represents
the figure of an infantry soldier in khaki service dress, and in
heavy marching order, but standing easy and holding a magazine rifle
at rest in front. The figure bears on the back a valise, canteen,
and coat rolled, with water bottle, haversack, and bayonet at side,
two cartridge pouches on belt, and wears a helmet, putties, and
boots. It is larger than life size, and apparently stands over six
feet. The face represents a good-looking young man, with moustache,
and pleasing expression. The general effect is that of a soldierly
figure in a restful attitude, and as a work of art it stands a worthy
memorial of the part that the Bedfordshires played in the war.
are bronze panels, bearing in raised letters the names of 230 fallen
Bedfordshire heroes affixed to the four sides of the surbase of
the pedestal. On each side of the square base which the statue stands
appear the words, "South Africa, 1899 —1902."
Mercury - Friday 03 June 1904, page 10:
SOLDIERS' MEMORIAL UNVEILED
Whatever opinion one may have of War in general, and the late South
African campaign in particular, no one with a spark of English spirit
would wish to withhold honour from those who at the call of duty
laid down their lives for their country; and while things are as
they are we shall no doubt at intervals—long ones, we hope—have
the melancholy pleasure of showing in a practical manner the respect
and love we feel for those whose lives are the forfeit of often
petty squabbles or greed of gain amongst those above them. Bedford
citizens have always been prompt showing that they are Englishmen
to the backbone, and it was with the utmost pride that they particularly
followed the doings of those connected with the neighbourhood during
that campaign, as well those of the Army in general; and to those
whose good fortune it was to return they manifested in no stinted
manner the appreciation they felt as well as their delight at seeing
friends and comrades once again. But hundreds were left never to
return; it is the soldier’s duty to obey, and when the order
to charge is given, or the storming of heights undertaken, forth
they into the grim and deadly work, with hearts willing to do and
dare for good old England; and ere the bugles ring out to cease
firing many are laid low, either dead or dying, and England knows
them no more. Their memory, however, is ever green, and though it
is not necessary to keep it so by visible tokens of bronze or stone,
yet over and over again have such monuments been erected, and this
week in Bedford has been unveiled a representative effigy of a “Tommy,”
in honour of those who went forth and are now lying beneath the
veldt and Afric’s sunny skies.
Once the movement to provide memorial was started, it was quietly
but earnestly pushed forward and the necessary funds raised by public
subscription. The Committee who had the arrangements in hand were;
The Lord Lieutenant (Earl Cowper, K.G.); the High Sheriff (Mr W.
H. Allen); the Duke of Bedford, K. G.; Lord Alwyne Compton, M.P.;
Mr T. G. Ashton, M.P.; Guy Pym, M.P.; the Mayors of Bedford, Luton
and Dunstable; Col. Booth (Officer Commanding at Bedford Brigade
Depot); Col. Frank Shuttleworth, Col. E. R. Green, and Col. Josselyn
; with Mr W. Marks (hon. secretary).
Various meetings were held, and when the form of the monument had
been decided upon, the work of execution was placed in the hands
of Messrs Farmer and Brindley, of Westminster Bridge-road, Loudon,
and most satisfactorily have they carried out their work, the modelling
being well done by Mr Chevalier. While this was being done a site
had naturally to be provided, and a committee to select one visited
several spots. At last it was announced that the piece of land in
front of the Swan Hotel would be purchased Mr Hedley Baxter and
given to the town, but eventually this proved unnecessary, for,
meanwhile, the Swan was taken by Mr Benison, on the death of Mr.
Burr, and he generously refused to sell, but gave the land on condition
that all legal charges were paid; here again Mr Hedley Baxter stepped
in and took this upon himself, and so the site will cost the town
nothing but the pleasure of accepting it. We cannot pass on without
giving to these gentlemen the most hearty thanks behalf of the town
for their public spirit and generosity, and we are certain that
every man, woman and child capable of understanding it, will feel
also that they owe them a deep debt of gratitude which cannot be
paid, if it were wished, nor adequately described in words. This
spirit is one of England’s treasures, and wherever displayed
it is taken at its proper worth, Bedford never being behind in this
respect. But, to pass on; the site having been provided and the
monument ready, the day for giving it to the view of the public
had to be arranged, and Thursday was fixed on: not only that, however,
but “Lifeboat Day” was also arranged for that day, as
it was thought that the two events could be run together with advantage.
Thus it was settled, and what two better objects could be amalgamated—one
the honouring of those who had given their lives at the call of
duty, and the other the assisting of those who are always ready
to take their lives in their hands and brave the perils of the sea
to help and save their fellow beings. All honour to the brave!
The bronze monument rests on a pedesta of York stone. The figure
elevated upon the massive stone base represents an infantry soldier
in kharki service dress and full marching order, with helmet, valise,
canteen, rolled coat, water-bottle, haversack, bayonet, and two
cartridge - pouches, and the legs are covered with putties. The
posture is that of “stand easy,” his magazine rifle
resting butt end on the ground with the muzzle at about 45 degrees
clasped in the hand, and, apparently, the figure is larger than
life size. The expression on the face, which is that of a young
moustached man, is a pleasant one, and the general impression gained
is that the “rest” is appreciated. On the square of
bronze on which the feet rest, there is inscribed on each side,
“South Africa—1899—1902,” and on each side
of the stone pedestal there is a bronze panel bearing the names
of those in whose honour it is erected. Three steps lead up to this
to enable the public the more easily to read the names, which are
raised from the face of the bronze, and, on inspection, the following
inscriptions will be found:
Tablet I.—Facing the High-street.
To the Memory of the Officers, Non-Commissioned Officers and Men
of the Bedfordshire Regt., and of Bedfordshire Men serving in other
branches of the Imperial Forces who lost their lives the South African
Campaign, and whose names are here-under recorded, this monument
was erected by public subscription in the County.
War Declared, Oct. 8, 1899.
Peace Proclaimed, June 1, 1902.
names of the fallen are then documented from the tablets…
Much anxiety was felt as to whether Dame Nature would be kind and
give fine weather for the event and when the morning broke apprehension
was not dispelled, for the clouds were low and threatening, but
happily beyond a darkening of the sky and a few spots just at the
commencement, the rain held off and eventually cleared away. At
two o’clock some of the military assembled at Russell Park
and subsequently marched down to their respective positions by the
Embankment; about 2.15 a detachment from the Barracks, headed by
their band, marched in and were located by the George Hotel wall,
and shortly after the Imperial Yeomanry with Colonel Shuttleworth
at their head came in from Warden Park and were stationed at the
back of the 3rd Beds, and the Hunts, detachment previously placed
in position on the right of the monument. The troops represented
included the local volunteers and engineers, and there were also
12 of the County Police and one of the Borough force who had been
through the campaign in South Africa, and practically every man
on foot in the square wore medals, numbering from one to six. Exactly
at three o’clock, with a guard of honour from the Yeomanry,
Lady Cowper was driven into the centre near the monument, and directly
after the Duke and Duchess of Bedford, arrived their motor, he wearing
above his uniform the sash of the Order of the Garter with the Star.
He was also accompanied by the Right Rev. Bishop Macrorie, and amongst
the company that then drew near the memorial noticed Mr Allen (High
Sheriff) in his robes, Mr Guy Pym, M.P., in the uniform of a Deputy-Lieutenant,
Sir John Burgoyne and Lady Burgoyne, Major-General Wynne (Commanding
Eastern District), Colonel and Mrs Josselyn, Major Brooks, Mr and
Mrs Howard Whitbread, Col. E. R. and Mrs Green, Colonel and Mrs
Duberly and friends, the Mayor (Ald. Moulton), Aldermen Burridge,
Jarvis, Kilpin in their robe, and W. E. Taylor, Councillors Walker,
Shelton, Dunham, Valentine, Lindley, Halliley, J. W. Carter, C.
Carter, J. Miller, G. Haynes, A. G. Carruthers, A. R. Lindley, and
F. R. Hockliffe, with the Town Clerk (Mr Hedley Baxter); Mr Griffith
Jones, Mr Bull, Mr Evans, Mr Whyley. Mr Shepherd, &c. At 3.15
Bishop Macrorie appeared in full robes, and Lady Cowper took her
position between the Bishop and Duke on one side and the High Sheriff
on the other, onr crimson carpet in front of the memorial.
THE DUKE OF BEDFORD, then stepping to the front, said: My Lady,
we lament with deep regret that our Lord Lieutenant is pre¬vented
by illness from being present, and I have therefore the honour,
as Chairman, on behalf of the Soldiers' Memorial Committee, to request
your Ladyship, representing the Lord Lieutenant, to unveil the memorial
to 230 of our departed comrades. It remains only for me to request
your Ladyship's permission that the ceremony shall proceed.
The Band situated on the right then played Chopin's Funeral March,
after which three rolls were given on the drums, and then Bishop
Macrorie offered prayers, addressed to the “God of all consolation,"
and offering to Him “this memorial of our brethren who died
for their Queen and Country in South Africa, whose bodies rest in
peace and whose souls we thankfully commend to Thee." The Bishop
asked that the good example of the dead might inspire the living
"with the spirit of courage end patriotism, of self-sacrifice
and obedience to duty." Next for comfort and succour to the
hearts of all who mourn for the fallen, and for defence and provision
for the fatherless children and widows and for the blessed issue
of universal peace and brotherhood among the nation. The Bishop
also prayed that the King’s soldiers might think wisely, act
kindly, live purely, and be comforted in the time of death. The
Lord's Prayer concluded the devotions of the hour.
Lady Cowper then stepped to the foot of the memorial, pulled a string
and amid the cheers of the assembled multitude the sheeting fell
off and threw open to the gaze of all the statue in all its beauty.
During the sounding of the “Last Post" by buglers, the
troops presented arms, and as the last note ceased.
Lady COWPER said: When and Gentle¬men, please allow me first
to explain that I am only here to represent my husband on this occasion.
It was a very great and bitter disappointment to my husband when
he found he would not be able to be here to-day, but he has for
six weeks had a very severe attack of illness and is not yet able
to put his feet to the ground; therefore it was absolutely impossible
for him to come to-day. He told me not to forget to say how much
he regretted and was disappointed at not being able to come, and
I must say I regret it as deeply as any, because I feel that I cannot
give what is worthy such an occasion. What can be nearer to all
our hearts than the unveiling of this statue? The figure is not
the portrait of my one man, nor the production of an artist; it
is rather a type of our British soldier, of whom all Englishmen
are so justly proud is moreover, it is a type of those who, making
that splendid profession their own, when in the case of stress and
more help is needed, come forward, leaving their homes and families,
to join those gone before and stand shoulder to shoulder with their
fellows in the light. Surely, ladies and gentlemen, when we remember
those dark days of three years ago, the call to arms, and the extraor¬dinary
and astonishing rapidity with which regiments were formed, we have
every right to be proud of our soldiers; and it is also a type of
those men who, taking their lives in their hands, go forth to struggle
and fight and face death, and when that time comes, which must come
some to all, Iay them down and willingly die the hero's death. This
statue will stand here to all ages to remind us that Bedfordshire
men were not behind their fellows, in their willingness to do and
die, and those old words, which were written so many centuries ago,
and applied to heroes in olden days, may well be applied to them—Dulce
et decorum est pro patria mori (applause).
The HIGH SHERRIFF, on behalf of the County, thanked Lady Cowper
as representing the Lord Lieutenant; they all regretted his absence,
particularly because of the interest he had taken to that movement
from the first, but, in his absence, they could not have had anyone
more appropriate than Lady Cowper; her name was a household word
in this County and the next, and it would be in the recollection
of all how she had devoted herself to the soldiers' families left
behind, and long prior to that how she had associated herself with
the same cause, and was always doing much beneficent work. That
monument had not been inspired by any artist; it was a reproduction
in metal of an actual fact that took place in the late Boer War,
and he thought it was due to say that Lord Alwyne Compton suggested
the theme which had now been duly carried out.
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