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PORT SUNLIGHT WAR MEMORIAL

World War 1 & 2 - Detailed information
Compiled and copyright © Martin Edwards 2008

The memorial is to be found out side the Unilever Building, The Causeway, Port Sunlight, Merseyside. It takes the form of a Celtic cross with a chamfered shaft on an octagonal podium with eleven surrounding figures and twelve relief panels. There are steps to north, south, east and west. A sculpture depicts the defence of the home. There are free standing figures comprising three soldiers, two women and six children and a further four round-headed panels have reliefs depicting different services - ambulance men with wounded soldiers, gunners, sailors and anti-aircraft. There are 503 names for World War 1 and 117 for World War 2. The memorial was unveiled by Sergeant E G Eames and PrivateR E Cruickshank 3rd December 1921. The builder was Messrs. William Kirkpatrick Ltd, the artist and designer was Sir William Goscombe John and the foundry used was Messrs. A B. Burton. The memorial was completed in 1921.

THEIR NAMES SHALL LIVE
FOR EVER AND
THEIR GLORY
SHALL NOT BE

BLOTTED OUT

THESE ARE NOT DEAD
SUCH SPIRITS NEVER DIE
ON THE ADJOINING PANELS ARE INSCRIBED
THE NAMES OF THOSE
FROM THE OFFICES AND WORKS OF
LEVER BROTHERS LIMITED
AND THEIR ASSOCIATED COMPANIES OVERSEAS
AND ALSO FROM PORT SUNLIGHT
WHO LAID DOWN THEIR LIVES IN THE GREAT WAR
1914 1919

THIS MEMORIAL
ERECTED BY LEVER BROTHERS LIMITED
AND THE COMPANY'S EMPLOYEES IN ALL
PARTS OF THE BRITISH EMPIRE AND IN
ALLIED COUNTRIES WAS UNVEILED ON
DECEMBER 3RD 1921 BY
SERGEANT E.G. EAMES OF PORT SUNLIGHT
WHO LOST HIS SIGHT AT THE FIRST BATTLE OF THE SOMME IN FRANCE 1916 AND BY PRIVATE R.E. CRUICKSHANK OF THE LONDON
BRANCH OFFICE WHO WAS AWARDED THE
VICTORIA CROSS IN 1918 FOR CONSPICUOUS
BRAVERY AND DEVOTION TO DUTY IN PALESTINE

THE NAMES OF ALL WHO SERVED NUMBERING OVER FOUR THOUSAND AND RECORDED IS A BOOK DEPOSITED BENEATH THIS STONE AND ALSO IN SIMILAR BOOKS IN CHRIST CHURCH AND IN THE LADY LEVER ART GALLERY WALL SURROUNDING CENTRAL PLATFORM: DULCE ET DECORUM EST PRO PATRIA MORI
THEIR NAME SHALL REMAIN FOR EVER AND
THEIR GLORY SHALL NOT BE BLOTTED OUT

TO OUR GLORIOUS DEAD

This is the forward to the "Port Sunlight War Memorial Golden Book 1914-1919":

FOREWORD

THE glorious Roll of Honour enshrined in this volume perpetuates the names of 503 heroes who gave their lives for their Country and the Empire, and of 3,566 equally heroic soldiers and sailors and airmen, who, though not called upon to make the supreme sacrifice, endured with sublime fortitude and even cheerfulness the terrible trials of the Great War 1914-1919. Loss of limbs, destruction of sight and undermined health from shell shock, trench fever, malaria, rheumatism, gas-poisoning and semi-starvation, or other ordeals endured as prisoners of war, were too well known to many of those whose names are here inscribed. All the names, so far as they have been discoverable, are here proudly and gratefully recorded and handed down in these pages for the love and veneration of our children and children's children who owe, perhaps their lives, certainly their freedom, to the heroes thus commemorated.

If on the graven and more enduring stone of the Port Sunlight War Memorial, designed by the celebrated sculptor of our time — Sir W. Goscombe John, R.A. — only the glorious dead are by name commemorated, this is not at all because of the exceeding great numbers of their comrades who fought and endured with them the perils of the mighty struggle, and were equally ready to lay down their lives also, but because, to their eternal honour, it was the widely expressed desire of these survivors that the sculptured monument should be wholly consecrated to the fallen as a memorial of their supreme glory and fame.

Whether commemorated in this book, or in stone and bronze, or in the traditions to be handed on to future ages, it may well be said of all our heroes: “Their name liveth for evermore.” Of all that they did and suffered, far more than the half has never been, and never can be, told. For all communications from the battle areas were drastically censored, lest information useful to the enemy forces should leak out; and, latterly, it was forbidden to indicate in print — even in the ordinary obituary announcements — the units or battalions to which the combatants belonged, or to inform the local communities interested where their heroes fought or bled or died. This, however, was always certain: the employees of Lever Brothers were taking part in every scene of action, whether on western or eastern fronts, in Europe, Africa, or Asia, or on the seas. And even the censored letters from the camps, the trenches, and the war vessels, especially the touching and the high-spirited writings of the wounded and the captives; the visible, unconcealable sufferings of the incessant streams of maimed, injured and blinded heroes into the innumerable home hospitals; the Gazette records of distinctions bestowed upon our gallant men, and the services for which they had been conferred; also the grim and ever-lengthening lists of war casualties, spoke eloquently and unceasingly of what was happening by land and sea, and of the magnificent part our own naval and military heroes whose names are written in this book were taking in the tremendous conflicts spread over four years and a half.

From an analysis of the lists in this volume it is clear that the employees of Lever Brothers who went on active service from the Works numbered no fewer than 2,288 (including 23 women auxiliaries); from the Offices at Port Sunlight and the Royal Liver Building, Liverpool, 480; and from the Branches in the United Kingdom (London, Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham, Cardiff, Bristol, Renfrew and Dublin), 517; a total of 3,285 from the United Kingdom. Our Overseas Associated Companies (those bearing the name of Lever only included) had on active service, from the United States 166, Australia and the Pacific Islands 129, France 126, Canada 81, South Africa 62, and Belgium, New Zealand, Japan, Holland and Italy 31 — a total of 595; making up a grand total, as far as known, of 3,880. These were distributed over at least six score different units of the services, naval and military.

RESERVISTS.

At the outbreak of war the Naval and Army Reserves men moved quietly and quickly to their stations, near and remote, 460 departing with the knowledge of their departments, some without waiting to say “Farewell!” In all the exciting experiences of the first rush of war they took a noble part, checking the enemy's advance on Paris, helping the Belgians in their unfortunate plight at Antwerp, sharing in the gallant, though ill-favoured, exploits in Gallipoli and the Dardanelles, or triumphing in the naval battle of the Falkland Islands.

R.A.M.C. MEN.

Among our earliest volunteers for the front were the members of the St. John Ambulance Brigade, some of whom left Port Sunlight on the third day of the war, with warm congratulations from our Chairman and Directors on their prompt preparedness to represent us in the humane work of the Royal Army Medical Corps. Some went across the Channel and were soon heard of as attached to the 4th Field Ambulance of the 2nd Division of the Expeditionary Force. Some — including their leader at Port Sunlight — were retained in England for hospital duties, which became more and more arduous as the vessels bearing home the wounded came in after every engagement on the Western front. Others were dispersed over Eastern battle fields and facing exceptional dangers with a heroism equal to the occasion.

R.E. SUNLIGHT SECTION.

The Cheshire Field Company was the first Territorial Company of the Royal Engineers to be sent to the front, early in the winter of 1914, to earn in time the high encomium of the Commander-in-Chief of the British Armies, Field Marshal Sir Douglas (afterward Earl) Haig, that they had “performed prodigies of valour in France.” No. 2 Section of this distinguished Company was entirely composed of Lever Brothers' employees and was described by comrades as “the Sunlight Section.”

THE WIRRAL BATTALION AND LIVERPOOL “PALS.”

The largest contingents of recruits joined the Wirral Battalion (13th Battalion The Cheshire Regiment) at Port Sunlight, mainly from the Works there; and the Liverpool Regiment, particularly the “ Pals Battalions (17th, 18th, 19th and 20th) raised by Lord Derby at Liverpool — the corps which appealed peculiarly to our clerical staffs in the Port Sunlight and Liverpool offices at the Royal Liver Building and Highfield Street. As early as November, 1914, within three months of the outbreak of war, no fewer than 1,670 employees of Lever Brothers, including the Reservists of all ranks and ratings, had already secured their places on our Roll of Honour. It was publicly acknowledged that from Lever Brothers came the greatest number of volunteers obtained from any Works in the country. At the first recruiting meeting in the Gladstone Hall, Port Sunlight, 500 of our men offered themselves for the Wirral Battalion, and by September 7th, 1914 — a day of high pride for our community, when the whole battalion marched through Chester to the Army Headquarters there, with the Chairman of Lever Brothers and Mr. Gershom Stewart, M.P., at its head — the Port Sunlight contingent had increased to 700. After a period of hard training on Salisbury Plain and at other places in England, the Wirral Battalion went to France in 1916 as a unit of the new armies. There, in trench warfare; in that grim and obdurate combat, the Battle of the Somme; in the fighting for the Messines Ridge; through the slaughter and swamps of the Ypres Battle in 1917; in all their long ordeal by fire, they quitted themselves like men. Their fame was won at the cost of heavy sacrifice. The official summary of their casualties up to December, 1917, showed that of their officers 28 had been killed, 3 more reported missing, and 68 had been wounded; of other ranks the killed numbered 293, the missing 415, and the wounded 1,458. It was in the successful attack on the Westhoek Ridge that the Wirral Battalion sustained most of these casualties. Ultimately, in February, 1918, its depleted condition necessitated disbandment, and the dispersal of its members among sister battalions.

Of the Liverpool battalions, the Liverpool Scottish (popularly known as the “Jocks”) and the 6th Liverpools were among the earliest

Territorial Regiments to take the field. In their ranks Lever Brothers' men were engaged in historic battles, particularly at Hooge and St. Eloi. In the “Pals” of the 18th Battalion under Lieut.-Colonel Trotter, D.S.O., that commanding officer whom his men loved, Lever Brothers were strongly represented. Like the Wirral Battalion, they had a hard training, begun at Hooton and continued at Knowsley, at Grantham, along the yellow-dusty roads of Lincolnshire, and afterwards across the chalk plains of Salisbury, till they had earned a name for smartness in ceremonial and keenness and efficiency in field operations. The Brigade was given a place of honour on the right of the British Army at the onset of the Somme offensive, and from the celebrated French General Nourisson they earned a tribute to their “remarkable bravery and discipline under heavy and continuous fire.” The casualty list on the 5th July, 1916, reduced the 18th Battalion's strength to 250 men, and 3 out of 20 officers. And still they distinguished themselves by stiff fighting in snowstorms in the opening stages of the Vimy Ridge battle (April, 1917), took part in the battle of Ypres, and did heroic work in delaying the German advance from St. Quentin in March, 1918. The “Pals” last battle, in May of that year, was characterised by major-General Pinney as the finest bit of fighting he had seen in France.

LONDON AND OTHER BRANCH OFFICES.

Thrilling narratives came in 1915 from men of the London Branch Office who had joined the 6th Londons. This battalion was under heavy fire when at Festubert during its first three weeks of trench warfare, and six out of seven of our brave men were killed or wounded. The fortunes of the other London Office soldiers were bound up with those of a great number of other battalions — the Norfolks, Royal Fusiliers, East Surreys, Essex Regiment, Rifle Brigade, the Middlesex “Die Hards,” Royal West Kents, Royal Berks, Sussex men, Dorsets, Somersets, Hampshires, London Scottish (with whom we had Cruickshank, our V.C.), the Hon. Artillery Company, and the King's Royal Rifles. Out of the 199 men who joined from the” London staff, no fewer than 26 made the supreme sacrifice. From the Manchester Branch Office 38 men enlisted, mainly

in the Battalions of the Manchester Regiment, including several “ City “ Battalions, corresponding to the Liverpool “ Pals,” who served side by side in France from 1915 onwards, their comrades of other battalions taking part in the colossal engagements in Gallipoli. The Manchester Office was further represented in their county Regiments, and also in the Cheshires and Liverpools. The Birmingham Branch Office, which also contributed 38 men to the armies, was fortunate, inasmuch as it had no record of killed. These men also served with “City” Battalions, and with the Royal Warwicks, the Bedfords, the Leicesters, the County Yeomanry and the Worcesters. Among other Branches, Cardiff, Bristol and Renfrew sent respectively to the front 21, 33 and 40, of whom 1, 2 and 5 sacrificed their lives. Cardiff, naturally, was chiefly associated with the “Welch” Regiment serving in France; Bristol with the Worcesters and the Gloucesters, who were among those who bore the brunt of the German artillery fire on the opening day of the Somme battle of 1916. Renfrew was represented in the Scots Guards, Royal Scots, Scottish Rifles and Cameron Highlanders, units of which served in France and also in eastern areas of the War, particularly Mesopotamia.

MOTORS AND AMBULANCES.

It must not be concluded from these particular references to Lever Brothers' employees who served their country as foot-soldiers, that any neglect of those hundreds who joined other branches of the Services is implied. The same story of cheery heroism may be told of our employees with the R.F.A. and R.G.A., the R.A.F. and Tank Corps; and a fine devotion to duty must be recorded of our men in the administrative services. To a life distraught and changed from that of peaceful days at home, a wistful whisper of comfort was carried by the motors and ambulances that went from Port Sunlight to the front. Our Chairman and Acting Chairman each provided an ambulance, and within a few weeks of the Declaration of War upwards of fifty of our motors were working with the Armies. Their appearance in France gave joy to many of our employees, a joy they were not slow to acknowledge in their letters home.

OVERSEAS ASSOCIATED COMPANIES.

The records of the Overseas Associated Companies bearing the name of “ Lever,” as well as those of the Head Offices and Branches at home, with respect both to casualties and to decorations and distinctions won by our valiant employees, will be found tabulated at the end of the list of names. In the historic record of Canadian and Australian valour our employees had an honourable share.

It will be observed that out of the grand total of 4,069 men on service, 503 were killed (including the missing), 516 were wounded once, 94 twice, 20 three times, and 6 four times. There were also many prisoners of war.

The Naval and Military honours to the credit of the same body of men are thus summed up: —

V.C.

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

1

O.B.E., 1st, 2nd & 3rd Class

-

-

-

-

-

2

D.S.O.

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

3

O.B.E., 4th & 5th Class

-

-

-

-

-

-

1

M.C.

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

21

D.F.C.

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

1

D.C.M.

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

11

D.S.M.

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

1

M.M.

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

52

M.S.M.

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

15

M.B.E.

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

1

Legion of Honour

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

1

Croix de Guerre

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

33

Medaille Militaire

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

1

Medaille Maroc

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

1

Gold Medal of St. George

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

1

St. George's Cross

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

1

Mention in Despatches

once

-

-

-

-

67

twice

-

-

-

-

5

thrice

-

-

-

-

1

four times

-

-

-

-

2

Certificate of Bravery in the Field

-

-

-

-

1

Mention for National Service

-

-

-

-

-

4

PRIVATE CRUICKSHANK, V.C.

The winner of the V.C. was Private Robert E. Cruickshank, of Lever Brothers' London Office, who gained it for a display of the utmost valour and endurance in the Palestine operations. There was a call for volunteers to take a message up a slope and over extremely dangerous ground. An officer who had previously attempted to take the message had been shot dead. Private Cruickshank immediately responded to the call and rushed up the slope three times, but was wounded at each attempt, and rolled down again. He was wounded so seriously at the third time that any further attempt was impossible. He lay in his dangerous position all day under snipers' fire, and was again wounded where he lay, yet was cheerful and uncomplaining throughout.

SHIPPING LOSSES.

Not included in the analysis of casualties are the lives lost and the shipping destroyed in the course of the enemy's submarine war on merchant vessels. On Sunday, June 6th, 1915, Lever Brothers' barque “Sunlight” was torpedoed between Cape Clear and Kinsale. The crew of 20 were fortunately rescued by a Government trawler and brought into Queenstown. Our Associated Company, the Bromport S.S. Company Limited, was incorporated on 29th April, 1916, and had a fleet of steamers with cargo capacity aggregating about 27,000 tons. The sinking of the steamer “Delamere” on 30th April, 1917, by an enemy submarine off the South Coast of Ireland, was distinctly an attack on a non-combatant vessel, on a passage home from the Congo and West African ports; 11 of the crew were lost. On 13th October, 1917, the “Eskmere” was torpedoed off Holyhead at one o'clock in the morning. The Captain, 2 officers, all the engineers, and 14 of the crew of 28 were drowned. The “Redesmere,” on 28th October of the same year, while proceeding from Barry Dock to Portsmouth under Admiralty orders, was lost by enemy action about 4 o'clock in the morning off Portsmouth. The only survivors out of a crew of 25, including two gunners, were the Captain and five of the crew. One of the African native firemen rescued the Captain in a state of exhaustion, and for his bravery received from the Liverpool Shipwreck and Humane Society their silver medal and their certificate of thanks on vellum. A special gold medal was struck by the Company for him and presented to him with a sum of money. The S.S. “Colemere,” the largest vessel of the Bromport Company's fleet (4,050 tons) was torpedoed and sunk in St. George's Channel on December 22nd, 1917. The Fourth Engineer and 3 of the crew of 34 were drowned.

HOME SYMPATHY AND SUPPORT.

In a book expressly designed as a commemoration of those who served in the Great War, making sacrifices even unto death, let there be no detraction from their tribute by a long story of what was done at home for heroes who did so much and infinitely more for home protection and security. They were never out of the thoughts of the great industrial community in which they left so many vacancies. Hundreds of those who could not follow their workmates into the field joined the Volunteer Force for Home Defence, Port Sunlight contributing two complete companies to the 2nd Volunteer Battalion the Cheshire Regiment. Women took their husbands' places in the factory, and helped to “carry on” by shell-making. Lever Brothers' Research Laboratory staff experimented in gases to meet the enemy's poison gas, and had the satisfaction of hearing their product called P.S. At the request of the Government our Company built a new factory at Bromborough for margarine manufacture. Gifts to funds and contributions to war loans ran into many hundred thousands of pounds, and some £200,000 was disbursed by the Company as allowances to the wives and dependants of the men on active service; and, for that good cheer is even more than money, the Chairman of Lever Brothers added to his share of the funds a never-flagging optimism — the spirit which wins a war. And won it was at last, thanks to the bravery of the bearers of the names here enshrined.

Further details of those whose served and died in World War 1 will be added as a database at a later date.

Last updated: 15 May, 2009

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