Ministry of Defence
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Lest We Forget
British Legion
The Royal British Legion


SOUTHEND-ON-SEA COUNTY BOROUGH WAR MEMORIAL

World War 1 & 2 - Roll of Honour with detailed information
Compiled and copyright © Richard Goring 1995-2005
Photographs © Andy Pay - 2005

See the memorial index for specific names on the memorial

There is an impressive Lutyens-designed portland stone memorial with garden frontage overlooking the Thames on the top of the 'cliffs' in Clifftown Parade, to the west of Pier Hill (TQ 877851). This commemorates the dead of both World Wars, but contains no names. The Memorial Roll with names is in Priory Park (TQ 877874), a large site mostly behind houses and bungalows fronting the east side and northern end of Victoria Avenue, the main A127 road into Southend centre from the north (the A127 from London turns south at Cuckoo Corner roundabout, close to Priory Park). The nucleus of the park, over 30 acres, was given to the Borough in 1917 by R A Jones, a local businessman, and included The Priory mansion, named from its site and including some surviving buildings of the ancient Cluniac priory of St Mary.

The Roll is mounted on the west wall of the building known as The Refectory, part of the mansion complex. Of wood, apparently dark-stained oak, it is rectangular (but with square-cut 'shoulders', each shoulder topped by a carved and fretted wooden embellishment about 6 inches high), 8 ft high at the centre and just over 6 ft wide, the bottom being about 3 ft above floor level. The surround 'frame' is carved in a repeating vine-leaf-and-fruit design, the central rectangular part above the shoulders also being quite elaborately carved. At centre top, also in carved oak and projecting several inches above the top of the main memorial board, is the Southend-on-Sea County Borough shield device including monk and fisherman 'supporters'. Amongst the elaborate carving below this device (which includes trefoils and rose bosses) are small shields in left and right corners bearing '1914' and '1919' respectively. Below the carving, the following appears in raised letters, also carved from the wood in somewhat ‘gothic’ characters:

IN
HONOURED MEMORY
OF THE MEN
OF SOUTHEND-ON-SEA
WHO LAID DOWN THEIR
LIVES IN THE GREAT WAR

Below this the names of the Great War Fallen are seen through a row of four glass 'windows'. The names are hand-written in an italic pen-lettering style, in black on a white ground, lower case with leading capitals, in alphabetical order of surname, with forenames and/or initials following. However, the first letter of each alphabet change is a gold drop-capital. Each ‘window’ has four columns of names. In a few instances where two men of the same name are listed, each entry is followed, on the line below, by the name of his Regiment or corps, indented, in plain italic capitals in brackets. Each name has a ‘line out’ and there are column dividing lines and borders, all in silver-grey.

The World War II names are rendered very similarly in a row of four shorter 'windows' below those of the Great War. It is clear that the Second World War names have been written by a different hand, implying that the Great War sheets are the originals (reinforced by the presence of a few 'late inclusion' names at the very end), even though the memorial frame itself seems to be a post-World War II construction. It is known that a Great War memorial roll was in the Priory in the 1920s and it is presumed the current memorial replaced that, so as to include Second World War Fallen.

A piece of wood about 10 inches high separates the two groups of windows - this has a small raised shield at each end, with '1939' and '1945' respectively and the following incised between the shields, in the same ‘gothic’ style as above:

AND THE MEN AND WOMEN WHO FELL IN THE SECOND WORLD WAR

Below the World War II windows the following is incised, again in the ‘gothic’ style as above:

THIS TABLET • THE CENOTAPH ON THE CLIFFS • AND THE GARDEN OF
REMEMBRANCE • CHALKWELL PARK • WERE PROVIDED BY GRATEFUL RESIDENTS

Each of the following pages represents one ‘window’ of the Roll, with the names in their appropriate column. The names were recorded in 1995 and the typescript finally checked visually against the Roll in 1998, to ensure a high level of accuracy. In addition, the Great War names were checked against entries in Roll of Men from Southend-on-Sea and District Who Fell for Their Country in the Great War 1914-1919, published by John H Burrows & Sons (publishers of the Southend Standard newspaper) about 1920. This resolved some queries, but there remain a few small discrepancies between the Roll and the book (eg., surname Hilliard/Hilleard, forename Laurence/Lawrence). No such publication is known to exist for the Second World War, but the names were cross-checked against other local memorial listings and newspaper extracts and again some small discrepancies noted. In addition, the lettering-style of the World War II names has made it almost impossible to distinguish initial ‘I’ from ‘J’ with certainty.

It should also be appreciated that the Great War names do not include men from the parishes of North and South Shoebury or Eastwood, since these were not incorporated into the County Borough until 1933.

The list of men can be found on a separate page. There is one out-of-sequence entry for ‘Scott Pitts’ that can be clearly seen to have been entered by a different hand - it was not recorded in June 1995 and must therefore have been added between then and the typescript check carried out in November 1998.

On the south wall of the Refectory, in the western corner just a few feet from the Roll of Honour, there normally hangs an original wooden cross grave marker from the Great War. It is understood that these markers were widely used initially by the then Imperial War Graves Commission to mark service war graves and as they were eventually replaced by the more solid and durable standard Commission headstone, the markers were offered to the next-of-kin of the soldier concerned. It is presumed that this marker was in turn offered to the County Borough and thence to the Museums Service, which has care of the Priory and its contents. The marker is of 3 x 1-inch timber, possibly oak and certainly stained dark oak, approximately 40 inches tall by 18 inches wide, with three stamped aluminium strips nailed to the centre-piece, all in capitals:

59510. SGT W. REDFORD
103 FIELD COY, R.E.
14/5/16

The ‘Southend Roll’ book mentioned earlier records that Sergeant Walter Redford of 102nd Field Coy, aged 35, of Westcliff, enlisted in December 1914 and was killed by a shell in France on 14 May 1916.

Also in Priory Park, close to and southwest of the Refectory (TQ 876873), is another memorial in the form of a public drinking fountain. Of grey Cornish granite, it is an obelisk mounted on a squared-off base column on a two-tier plinth, having a total height of about 8 ft. There are four half-cup troughs with a scallop design at waist level and two plain troughs at plinth level for dogs. Although, in common with virtually all such devices, the fountain has not provided refreshment for many years, it was removed, cleaned, renovated and re-installed about 1992. This refurbishment included the dedication lettering on the south face of the base:

PRESENTED BY
R•A•JONES•M•B•E
HONORARY FREEMAN OF
SOUTHEND ON SEA
IN COMMEMORATION OF
THE GLORIOUS DEAD OF
THIS BOROUGH WHO GAVE
THEIR ALL FOR BRITAIN
IN THE GREAT WAR
1914 —— 1919

R A Jones established a jewellery business which subsequently traded from an imposing shop in the southern part of Southend High Street and which continued for many years beyond the Second World War. He was a generous benefactor to the town, buying and giving the land and mansion which form the bulk of Priory Park to the Borough in 1917, for perpetual public use. He and one of his sons are buried in the Cloister Garth adjacent to the Refectory. R A Jones also gave two large sports grounds, which are still in use a little to the east of the park, along Eastern Avenue (A1159). One of these, the Victory Sports Ground, in the southwest corner of the junction with Sutton Road (B1015), commemorates those sportsmen of the County Borough who Fell in the Great War. It has an impressive stone pillar and wrought iron entrance gateway (TQ 883872) with appropriate dedication plaques.

The other ground, to the northeast corner of the same junction, commemorates Mr Jones’ wife. Immediately east of that and further along Eastern Avenue is another, the Youth Commemoration Ground (TQ 890875) of some 10.5 acres, which was given to the Borough in 1954 by E Cecil Jones (a town councillor, son of R A Jones and buried with his father in Priory Park). It is for the sporting youth of the Borough in the 15-20 age group and is dedicated to the memory of the Borough Fallen and all those others who served in the Second World War. It is understood that this land was previously the Royal British Legion War Memorial Ground, but it is not known why RBL disposed of it.

As noted on the first page of this listing, the other ‘County Borough’ memorials to the Fallen are on the clifftop at Southend, where a formal parade and short service are held each Remembrance Sunday, and a Garden of Remembrance in Chalkwell Park. This is on the east side, adjacent to Chalkwell Avenue (TQ 858862) and commemorates the Fallen of World War II. It was dedicated in 1952 and originally had a central pond, but that is now a flower bed. Immediately adjacent to the Garden is an imposing stone and wrought-iron double-gate entrance to the park from Chalkwell Avenue (TQ 859862), which was presented by a prominent local businessman, Percy Raven, in memory of his son Ronald Eric and of others from the district killed in the “war against Japan 1942-1945”.

2 August 2005

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