In 1921 The Tunbridge Wells Borough Council decided to commemorate those
who fell during the First World War by having a memorial designed and
constructed in the town. The site they chose was on Mount Pleasent Road
in front of the town hall just down the road from the Opera House. Newspaper
articles of May 30,1921 describe Councils intention to have a monument
built and various examples of other monuments and proposed designs were
put forward requesting suggestions. Afterwards Council requested any
architects with an interest in designing the monument to submit their
proposals for consideration and many architects did so. In the end the
contract for the monument was awarded to architect Stanley Nicholson
Babb (1874-1957) who's accepted design consisted of a stone plinth upon
which was mounted a bronze statue of a WW1 soldier carrying a rifle
with an inscription placed on the plinth. Extending from its central
position in the overall monument was a back wall upon which the bronze
plaques bearing the names of the fallen from WW 1 were mounted with
a left and right wing of stone extending out towards the sidewalk. The
topography of the ground was such that an cut in the embankment, which
extended upwards from the back of the sidewalk toward the grounds of
the town hall, was necessary and apart from serving the purpose of providing
a wall to mount the plaques on served also as a retaining wall to hold
back the earth in the embankment. Early postcard views of Mount Pleasent
Road give a good view of how the monument looked at the time of its
construction. Construction of the monument was completed in time for
an unveiling ceremony that was held February 11,1923.
Initially the bronze plaques were all located on the back wall but later
one more plaque was mounted on the right wing of the memorial wall to
accommodate a plaque bearing the names of additional men who died during
the First War. After the Second World War additional plaques were made
for the men who died during that war, which were mounted on the left
wing of the memorial wall in 1946 and additional wording was added to
the plinth pertaining to WW 2. After 1946 additinal bronze plaques,
bearing the name of a single man only, were added from time to time
with the last one being added in 2005.
memorial was unveiled by Colonel Viscount Hardinge February 11,1923
at a large ceremony arranged for the occasion and the Guard of Honour
was provided by the 4th Battalion,The Queen's Own Royal West Kent Regiment.From
the roof of a house in Calverley Parade, buglers sounded the Last Post
and Reveille. A newspaper article pertaining to the ceremony gives the
following; "The arrangements for the event entailed no little labour
upon Mr. W.F. Bellamy,the Deputy Town Clerk, and his staff to whom great
credit is due,whilst the police supervision was ably carrried out by
the Chief Constable (Capt. S.A.Hector),assisted by Inspector Guy Carlton.During
the ceremony the members of the St. John Ambulance Brigade had a busy
time,quite a number in the crowd being overcome,and having to receive
treatment". Accompanying this information was a list of the men
being remembered.The memorial
was festooned with flowers and wreaths with the floral tributes having
been arranged by the Boy Scouts. The event was attended by over 1,000
people from the town and surrounding area. There was a religious component
to the ceremony and images of the event clearly show the presence of
a large assembledge of choir boys in white.
photographs were taken at the time of the ceremony but perhaps the most
lasting images were those taken by well known Tunbridge Wells photographer
and postcard printer and publisher Harold Hawtrey Camburn (1876-1956)
who produced at least two postcard views of the event. Harold Camburn
was born at Sutton Surrey but in the late 1800's moved to Tunbridge
Wells and established a photographic business and for a time was a partner
with photographer Percy Squire Lankester at the Great Hall Studios.
Later, on his own ,he operated from premises 1919 to 1923 at 19 Grove
Hill Road and it was while there that he took the photographs of the
war memorial. After that time he had premises at 80 St John's Rd until
he retired in 1951 and moved to Portsmouth, Hampshire
where he died in the 3rd quarter of 1956. Harold himself had served
in WW1 as an Air Mechanic 2nd Class in the Aegean with the Royal Naval
Air Service from 1917 until the end of 1919.
Listed by British Heritage
On June 9,2011 British Heritage gave the monument a Grade II listing
(#1401309).The reasons given for its designation were
Today the memorial stands in front of the Tunbridge Wells listed divic
complex, which was built in 1939.The site of the complex was previosuly
occupied by Calverley Parade and Calverley Terrace,part of the Calverley
Estate designed by the architect Decimus Burton in the early 19th century.The
retaining wall into which the memorial is set is a remnant of this earlier
scheme, and contributes to its strong setting.
The description of monument by British Heritage is given as follows'
"Materials: Stone wall with bronze figure and plaques. Set within
a low retaining wall facing out towards Mount Pleasant, and in front
of the tunbridge Wells Civic Complex, which includes the town hall and
the public library and museum, the memorial takes the form of a smooth-faced
stone wall, set back approximately 1.5 metres from the pavement edge,
with retaining wings. To the centre of the wall is a raised plinth omn
which stands a bronze figure of a soldierm fully equipped for combat,
his rifle with bayonet lowered and held in both hands across his body.
The soldier's helmet is at his feet.The following inscription is spelt-out
in bronze letters on the plinth; OUR GLORIOUS DEAD/1914-1918/HONOUR
GRATITUDE/PRAISE/ 1939-1945. A laurel wreath is carved in relief below.
The wall is lined with bronze palques bearing the Roll of Honour. One
each of the flanking wings is a bronze lamp with a laurel carved beneath.
below connect to details about each person named on the plaques of the
memorial. Initially there were 766 men listed on the plaques unveiled
in 1923 and then a further 35 men were added on a separate plaque in
1946 for the First World War. There are in total 801 names on the plaques.
WELLS WAR MEMORIAL 1939-1945
the names that appear on the memorial for World War 2 most appeared
on the plaques installed in 1946 but additional names were added on
individual name plates affixed to the monument after the initial set
of plaques were installed. The last name added to the monument was in
2005 bringing the total to 170 listed.
The names on the plaques were assembled by Tunbridge Wells Council (City
Clerks Office) as a result of an advertising campaign conducted by way
of posters and newspaper advertisements requesting the submission of
names and other details of any individuals who it was believed by relatives
of the fallen should be remembered on the memorial plaques. As the response
from the public was disappointing a series of advertisements were made
in the Kent and Sussex Courier throughout the summer of 1946.Councils
plea stated "In spite of every effort to secure the town's c0-operation
in the matter of compiling a complete list of those who lost their lives
during the war, the Tunbridge Wells Council has met with only a meagre
response"...."Please forward them (the names) as soon as possible
to the Town Clerk..". There are as usual, many individuals who's
names were eligle for inclusion on the memorial plaques but unfortunately
many names were not submitted by relatives and therefore are absent
from the memorial. A committee, consisting of town Councillors was formed
in 1946 to co-ordinate the collection of names and reviewing same before
formally accepting the submissions.
As was common practice, there were no formal criteria established with
respect to the selection of names for inclusion on the memorial. All
names were those submitted by relatives. The main criteria used were
that the individuals had lived in the Borough and the general practice
was that the individual be listed on only one memorial. As military
historians have found, these practices were not always adhered to and
most, if not all memorials, are not entirely accurate as they were not
run or coordinated by the War Office. Discrepancies and errors are therefore
When the War Memorial was designed and constructed in 1923 there was
sufficient space on it for the inclusion of plaques for those who fell
in WW2 without having to make changes to the structure of the monument.
Constructed as it was with a back wall and two wings there was sufficient
space on the left wing for the inclusion of the WW2 plaques. The tribute
to the fallen was altered on the base of the statue to make reference
to 1939-1945 as can be seen from the photograph(s).
Reference has been made, at least in some cases, to the names of the
fallen appearing in either books of remembrance or on plaques displayed
at various schools and churches in Tunbridge Wells. A complete list
of these plaque/book tributes has not been provided here by the researcher.
However, The Tunbridge Wells Museum has in its collection an unorganized
file of research material compiled by Richard Gosling within which is
information about the school/church tributes. For those interested in
this subject matter, a trip to the museum would be beneficial.
Images and information about the cemeteries and memorials given for
the following men/women as well as images of the headstones can be obtained
from the website of the War Grave Photographic Project. Some images
are subject to copyright however much information can be downloaded
online and images ordered from the webmaster with a small donation.
Images of the fallen can be obtained in some cases from various genealogy
websites such as Ancestry. UK and there are some military history websites
that have images of certain men/women who served in the war who may
be on the following list. There is usually a fee charged for the images
on some websites but there is no charge for the images if you are a
subscriber to a genealogy website.
memorial, because of its size has been split into alphabetical sections.
World War 1 and World War 2 names are listed separately and within these
groupings the names are listed in alphabetical sections.
NOTES ABOUT THE LIST
The first entry on each line, consisting of the persons initials and
surname, are as shown on the memorial plaques. In some cases the initials
and surnames do not coincide with the name and these are notated. These
discrepancies are due mainly to errors or omissions on the plaques made
at the time of casting or are attributed to incorrect information provided
to Council by family members. The names given in brackets are based
on military or other reliable records.
2) The order in which the names are listed on the plaques are in alphabetical
order and the two plaques have been merged into one list in alphabetical
order. The list was initially compiled from the Roll of Honour as published
in the Kent and Sussex Courier in 1923 which was not entirely in correct
alphabetical order. Any errors in information on the Roll of Honour
have been corrected in the above lists.
3) All of the names on the second plaque appear together with the main
plaque without indication. The original plaques of 1923 were not recast
to add names or make corrections.
4) The only names appearing on the plaques are those supplied by family
members of the deceased. Many men who fell in the war with connections
to Tunbridge Wells and who would have been eligible for inclusion on
the plaques are not listed as family members did not submit their names.
5) The information on the lists was compiled from a review of Military
records of each man; newspaper records; photographs and onsite inspection
of the war memorial plaques; and genealogy records.
6) Sources of information used for research were provided by members
of The Great War Forum, the Tunbridge Wells Reference Library, The Tunbridge
Wells Museum and Art Gallery, the online records of the Commonwealth
War Graves Commission and Ancestry.UK as well as other reliable websites.
All information was cross checked for accuracy.
7) Information for some men on the list has not been provided or is
incomplete due to incorrect information on the plaque which prevented
positive identification of the individual or the military records no
longer exist due to many records being destroyed or damaged by bombing
during the war. Also in some cases certain listings have been labeled
‘No further information currently available’ and little
or no information supplied by the researcher. This is due to the fact
that there can be several men with the same initials and last name and
unless a positive connection of the individual with Tunbridge Wells
could be determined then the entry was designated ‘no further
information available’ to avoid mistaken identification being
accepted as fact.
8) There are a large number of men listed on the memorial who died October
28, 1915 during the Hythe disaster. All of these men are also listed
on the H.M.S. Hythe Memorial Plaque which had been unveiled by Sir David
Solomans on Saturday October 28, 1916 and was originally erected in
the former Southborough Drill Hall at Speldhurst Rd., Southborough,
Tunbridge Wells. This plaque is now located in St. Matthew's parish
church on Gordon Rd., High Brooms, Tunbridge Wells.
9) Many of the men listed on the Tunbridge Wells Memorial can be found
on various plaques in Tunbridge Wells which are on display at various
schools (such as Skinners) and churches in the town. Anyone researching
a particular man should contact the school/church for names of those
recorded. In some cases photographs of the plaque can be obtained. We
have attempted to record all of the memorials and church, school plaques
each person is recorded on.
10) Although it was the intention that a person be recorded on only
one memorial many examples can be found where an individual on the Tunbridge
Wells Memorial is also recorded on other memorials and in books of remembrance
located in towns other than Tunbridge Wells. Anyone researching a particular
man should consult records of other localities where the person or his
family lived. Many of the men listed on the Tunbridge Wells Memorial
can more locally be also found on the Southborough War Memorial. Other
war memorials in the area should also be checked. We have attempted
to identify in this account those individuals also recorded on the Southborough
Memorial as well as the Speldhurst Memorial at St Mary's Church given
the large number of men with connections to Speldhurst.
11) There are a large number of men who died in the war with connections
to Tunbridge Wells who are not listed on the Tunbridge Wells Memorial
Plaques. For information on those individuals we would recommend checking
the websites of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and the War Graves
Photographic Project. In additon to the information provided on those
sites about the individual himself, images of the headstone for the
man can be obtained from the site of the War
Graves Photographic Project site.
12) For those interested in details of the men recorded on the Soughborough
Memorial I would recommend the self published book "Southborough
War Memorial" by Judith Johnson of 2009 and updated 2012. Infomation
about purchasing this book is available online.
30 May, 2022