1919 WAR MEMORIAL.
Towards the end of 1919 details were being announced of the proposed memorial on the Green and of the tablet to be placed in the church. During 1920 progress was being completed on the many such memorials of different designs throughout the country, and also with the shortage of such skilled craftsmen as required, ours took its turn with the rest. In the mean time contributions were being collected towards the total project cost of £ 500, the design was viewed in the post office, and the list of names was published for people to check for accuracy. As the cross on the Green neared its completion, arrangements were being made for its Dedication and Unveiling to take place on Sunday afternoon of October 31st 1920.
A report published in the November issue of the Parish Magazine for that year reads:-
“It was an afternoon which was bound to carve itself indelibly upon the imagination, to move to seriousness even the ordinarily thoughtless, and to underline the hideous cruelty of war. To some, the late war brought well-deserved honour and distinction; to some, wealth – even beyond the dreams of avarice – and to countless others (thousands of them) penury and desolation, sadness and sorrow, the scars of which they will carry with them all their days. Such is the way of life here: yonder, we like to believe, things will be different, for ‘God is faithful,’ and He has promised ‘to wipe all tears from all eyes’. Meanwhile, ‘he who is wise will ponder such things’. ‘Lest we forget! Lest we forget!’
The memorial was designed by Mr Cecil Burns, a brother of Captain E B Burns, of Riverside, who had his full share of war experience at the hands of the Turk. It was executed by Messrs Burslem of Tunbridge Wells, and is described in the local press as being one of the most artistic and beautiful of its kind in the county. We were fortunate in being able to secure the Bishop of the Diocese for our Memorial Dedication, and in catching between trips to France, Colonel A D Borton, V C, C M G, D S O, to perform the Unveiling ceremony.
Colonel A D Borton is, as all in Yalding knows, the elder of those two distinguished and deservedly highly-decorated sons of our Colonel Borton, of Cheveney, to whom Yalding owes so much, and thanks to whose active interest our War Memorial has become an accomplished fact. Colonel A D Borton, like his distinguished younger brother, is covered with medals, he won the V C, and in doing it, so impressed the men who served under him and followed him into action, that ever after they endearingly spoke of him in private as ‘the bloke who took the Turkish guns with his walking stick’. It however may not be known, except by those of his intimate circle, that in civil life this same gallant soldier is one of the most retiring and diffident of men, and that to have to face an audience in any public capacity is more than effort to him: therefore we are full of gratitude to him for coming to us to perform the unveiling ceremony.
We were also fortunate, in that the afternoon was fine. The proceedings commenced with Service in Church, at which there was an overflowing congregation. The ex-servicemen paraded, under the command of Col. Arthur Reid, M C, R E; the Boy Scouts, under their Scout-Master, the Rev. H T Southgate; the Cubs under their Cub-Mistresses, Miss Reeves and Miss A Leigh. Service over, a procession was formed, which proceeded up the Village to the Memorial site: a very impressive scene it made. There was an obvious spirit of Reverence and Remembrance in the air. For a moment at any rate, all of us were made to realise what the war cost; what ‘our glorious dead’ had wrought for us; the inner meaning of the phrase we often use, ‘the supreme sacrifice’; the tragedy underlying the laying down of those 39 young Yalding lives on our behalf; again, ‘Lest we forget! Lest we forget!’
If one were asked what was the particular feature of the proceedings which attracted chief attention, it would be difficult to answer. There was the tone and colour of the service in church; the overflowing gathering to point to the feeling of a common Parish Brotherhood in a universal cause. There was the reading of the lesson by Pastor Palmer, of the Baptist Church, in itself a speaking evidence of that bond of unity, which is ever ready to assert itself in Yalding parish life, when the call for such assertion comes. There was the appreciated address of the Bishop; the reverent gathering at the foot of the Memorial Cross; the appropriate language of the Unveiler; the pathos attaching to the wreath given by the relatives of the fallen; the bugle notes which rang out so clear and true; the unfurling of the Union Jack at exactly the right moment on the Church Tower: all incidents these in a harmonious whole, on which the observant mind could dwell with a hallowed satisfaction: and among such features, not the least to be marked was the fact that it all took place on the Eve of All Saints’ Day.”