War Memorial
(from the Hampshire Herald of April 22nd 1921)
A memorial cross of graceful proportions - similar in design to those erected in France and Flanders - to the memory of thirty men from Froyle who gave their lives in the Great War, was dedicated by the Bishop of Guildford on Thursday evening in last week (April 14th 1921) in the presence of an exceedingly large crowd, who could not fail to be impressed with the deep solemnity of the service. The cross is striking in its majestic symbolism. It has been erected in a commanding position on The Beeches (on land belonging to Sir Hubert Miller, Bt., and in the occupation of Mr. L. Simpson) conspicuously close to the main road where it will for ever remain as the loving tribute of the parish, and a tender reminder to those who pass by of the debt the country owed to the men of Froyle, in common with all the parishes of Hampshire and throughout the land.
The occasion was a notable one, and commenced at 6.30 with a deeply impressive service in the fine old parish church, the Vicar (Rev. W. Annesley) and the Rev. Robert Quirk (assistant master at Winchester College) assisting the Bishop in a shortened form of evensong. The congregation, representative of all classes, joined reverently in the singing of Psalm xxiii, the Magnificat, and “The Supreme Sacrifice.” :-
O valiant Hearts, who to your glory came
Thro’ dust and conflict and thro’ battle flame
Tranquil you lie, your Knightly virtue proved
Your memory hallowed in the Land you loved.
Sir Hubert Miller , Bart, J.P., read the Lesson, and a full choir accompanied the singing. The Bishop, wearing a cloth of gold cope and a richly embroidered mitre, was attended by Master Roger Quirk, as mitre bearer. The cross was born by Mr. Harold Brownjohn, and the two churchwardens, Messrs. L. Simpson and W. E. Andrew, assisted in the conduct of the service, Mr. Walter Andrew presiding at the organ.
The Bishop deliverered an impressive address from the pulpit. Remarking that it was a great privilege to join with them in paying a tribute to the men to whom they owed so much., the Bishop went on to say that it was not an occasion when they would expect anything in the nature of a formal sermon or address. He thought the service would have a deeper feeling with the thoughts in their hearts, and proceeded to remind the congregation of what seemed to him to be its main purpose. 1, to make an act of thanksgiving; 2, then an act of remembrance; and 3, then an act of dedication. In regard to the first, they wanted to render thanks to God for all those men who fell in the war. God gave them to them, and it was a mercy that they were there in a time of great emergency, when our country was faced with one of its greatest perils in all its history. They gave themselves without hesitation - without hesitation when the country’s honour was at stake. They went in the way they did without fret, fuss or hesitation, because it seemed to them the only decent thing to do, claiming nothing in the way of heroism. They went in ignorance of what they were leaving behind, some with the brightest prospects and many met death in its most monstrous form. And yet they endured throughout it all. He never heard a whine or a murmur, they met their death undismayed, nothing quelled or daunted their courageous spirit. They met death with a smile on their faces. some were barely out of their teens; they came from the counting house, from the shop, the farm, just average men of the country, and God gave them to them. And today they were met to thank God, who had done great things for them, whereof they rejoiced. The blessings showered upon our homeland were beyond count, and as he moved through the matchless scenery of our homeland, he could not help recalling the words of the Psalmist, that their lot had fallen in a fair place. It was not the glory of the landscape which was our greatest blessing, or our history, prestige, or the place of honour we held among the nations. God lived in the character of our people, and there it was displayed in its very best. And so they came, simply and humbly, to make their thanksgiving by the erection of their memorial, a memorial cross which they were going to dedicate. In it they found the symbol of their faith, the sign of their redemption. They wanted to acknowledge that they owed thanks to those men who did what they could. Then they wanted to be continually reminded of their sacrifice, and to keep their memories ever fresh. They liked to dwell individually on each of the tender little traits they knew so well. They liked to think of them with all their faults and failings, and they were not to imagine that they were without fault. It might be that they were not strong in their religious faith, but they came of religious fathers. They knew, it might be that the faith of their fathers made England great, and they felt that unconsciously they followed in their footsteps. They thought of them not only as they had been, but as they were now. They knew that they were just as much alive as they were, but they knew that they were nearer to the Presence of Him, whom in their best moments they followed. They were above the mists, disentangled from all the prejudices of the times which held them. And they must know in many respects, better than they did. With all its faults, they still loved the dear country for which thery gave so much. They were bidden to think of them as crowding the galleries of life. Surely if they looked out upon these scenes, there must be a longing in their hearts, that they would try to found their national life and conduct on the only foundation which could endure, on the acknowledgement of God in Christ. They wanted to think of them not only as they were here, but as they were now in the nearer Presence of their Lord. So their act of remembrance brought them to the other thought of dedication - the tasks that these men who died to save their country had left for them to do. The country wanted saving still. There were enemies no less real, no less formidable than those hosts they went out to fight in order to defend their homes and their country. They had got to carry on the warfare from which there was no escape. If we are to win through to victory, it would only be by the same principles which were so splendidly displayed in these men - the principles of the Cross of Christ. And thus it was that the Cross of Christ was the most fitting of all memorials. They thought of the Cross, whereon God gave His only Son to save the world. Their dead comrades gave themselves in utter self-sacrifice, in utter self-forgetfulness, to save their country. That was His ambition - to save the world. Out of this conflict there sprung up the most wonderful friendship, the most wonderful comradeship among the soldiers at the front. They remembered that they were all of one heart, soul, and purpose. Out of the Cross there sprang the greatest fellowship, the fellowship of the Church. If they were to win anything out of the peace for which the world was longing today, if they were to follow in their steps, and help to save their country, it could only be by translating in their lives the same principles. The service of fellowship was better than strife. If they tried to translate into the common things of everyday life some of the beautiful things which happened between officers and men in war time, their lives would move to grander music than had ever fallen upon the ears of men. And so they would be erecting a fitting monument and paying a tribute that would be pleasing in their sight, and doing their best to secure that the sacrifice they had made should not be made in vain.
At the close of the service the congregation, preceded by the clergy and choir, wended their way to The Beeches, where there had already assembled a large gathering, many with floral tributes, which were subsequently placed around the base of the memorial. From the elevated situation where this beautiful cross has been erected, the eye wanders over an alluring scene of upland and dale, and on this occasion, in the eventide of an ideal spring-time, the scene left an imperishable impression on the mind.
The Bishop, clergy and choir, having ascended the steps leading to the memorial, the Union Jack which covered it was released. Prayer was offered by the Bishop, who impressively conducted the ceremony of dedication. The Vicar read out the names of the men who have been commemorated, and the congregation joined in singing “O God our help in ages ,” followed by The national Anthem. Messrs. W. Roberts and F. Bone, members of the Old Comrades Band, Alton, then sounded the Last Post and the Reveille. The procession was reformed, and returned to the parish church.
The cross, supplied by Messrs. Gardiner of Evesham, bears on the plinth the inscription, “In grateful memory of the men of Froyle, who fell in the Great War, 1914-1918. Their names liveth for evermore.” On the side panels the names of the following have been engraved:
Nelson Aitcheson
Thomas Aitcheson
William Ayres
Andrew Binfield
Frederick Binfield
Tom Brownjohn
Reginald Cooper
Charles Hillier
Robert Hillier
David Hounsham
Frank Hounsham
Charles Ivil
Frederick Knight
Wilfrid Messenger
Edward Mitchell
James Neale
Frederick North
James Oakley
Frederick Oliver
Henry Pinnells
William Pinnells
Robert Scrivener
Herbert Shurville
Gladstone Steer
Albert Stratton
William Summers
Richard Vickery
Albert Ward
Albert Webb
Percy Yalden
The cross, which has been generally admired, cost, with the expense of erection, some £225. Sir Hubert Miller, Bart., was the chairman of the Memorial Committee, and the hon. treasurer, the Rev. W. Annesley, who it is interesting to note, collected the whole of the money in the village of Froyle.
Among the wreaths laid on the plinth was a handsome cross of arum lilies encircled by laurel leaves, subscribed for by the teachers and scholars of Froyle School, ”In grateful remembrance of all they did for us.” Fourteen of the names on the stone were those of former pupils.