With the planned inauguration of Capel’s own new War Memorial coming in 2018 it seemed appropriate a week before Remembrance Day this year to find out something of the origin and history of such monuments, and Bill and Griff came to Capel Ladies Club to give a presentation about this very subject.
One or two people amongst us weren’t sure they would be able to keep from dropping off during a talk like this, but they were pleasantly surprised as it proved an interesting and informative talk and slideshow.
The term “war memorial” can be used to describe a monument, building or statue which has been erected to celebrate or honour a war or a victory, and an example of this is Trajan’s Column, erected in Rome during the 2nd century AD. It commemorates the victory of the Roman emperor Trajan over the Dacians and is a 126-foot marble pillar with carvings spiralling around it of the various battles that were involved, so that it reads like a comic strip. There are also a number of Triumphal Arches around the world that glorify victories and commemorate famous generals and leaders.
However, the Great War of 1914/18 – the “War to end all wars” – was so terrible and inflicted such large numbers of casualties on all sides that many thousands of families around the world were affected by the tragedy of the wounding or loss of one of their own, and whole communities were depleted of many of their young men. Consequently, after the war there was a strong feeling and a need felt by those left behind to preserve the memory of the dead and the wounded, and those people and places scarred forever by their involvement in such an appalling and world-changing event.
Memorials to the First World War are many and varied, and throughout the UK most villages and towns erected their own memorial, be it a stone column on the village green or a plaque in the local parish church. Names of the dead were also included on the memorial so that they should never be forgotten. Although we have a plaque in St Mary’s Church to those killed in the Great War, and a Book of Remembrance which honours those killed in World War II, there is no stone memorial in the centre of the village.
Some injured soldiers from Capel were cared for at the old Anglesea Road hospital in Ipswich, so at the time the village decided to send its money to Anglesea Road, rather than spend it on an inanimate object like a war memorial, however worthy.
However, in recent years, after thoughts were galvanised into action, former Royal Marine Griff Johns found himself archivist of The Capel St Mary War Memorial Trust – a small group of villagers determined to unveil a permanent memorial in the centre of Capel on the 11th day of the 11th month, 2018: the 100th anniversary of the guns falling silent. Griff has been researching the 33 men so far identified who did not see Suffolk again. They are all associated with the parish through school, family or birth, and their names will be carved on the granite memorial.
To this end there has been active fund-raising and publicity, and after giving a very informative and well-illustrated talk to our members, Griff and associate Bill Dimond were presented with a cheque towards this worthy fund.