THE HISTORY OF THE WAR MEMORIAL
A War Memorial sub-committee was set up by Rothley Parish Council after the Great War to organise a memorial to the fallen which we now see as the obelisk on Cross Green. Sadly, the Minutes of this sub-committee cannot be found and there is very little reference of their actions in the Parish Council Minutes of the time. There is also reference to the Mountsorrel Lane Recreation Ground being a Memorial Playing Field but, again, there is very little about this in the Parish Council Minutes.
The details of the unveiling were found in the Leicester Advertiser dated 30th July 1921 and the Leicester Mercury dated 25th July 1921. A postcard exists of the event and this is shown below.
The quest for information about the building of the obelisk and those named still continues in 2012.
The War Memorial 2011
Unveiling of the War Memorial 24th July 1921
Cross Green Rothley. Site for the War Memorial. The tree in the centre was removed. Postcard dated 3rd August 1916
The gardens around the Memorial were created in 1948.
FAIR AND FRAGRANT
ROTHLEY'S SOLDIER DEAD
In brilliant sunshine and before a very large gathering of residents of Rothley and surrounding villages the handsome memorial to the thirty four fallen heroes of Rothley was unveiled and dedicated on Sunday afternoon.
Rothley's tribute to her dead with those who served in the Great War takes the form of a sports ground (which though not formally opened has been in use for some time) and a granite obelisk.
The total cost incurred has been £1,500. The granite obelisk weighting 23 tons with a granite with a granite block of stone weighing 7 tons, on one face of which has been let in a slab of Swithland slate perpetuates thirty three names and yet one (Bertie Bates) has still to be added. It is inscribed as follows:
"1914-1918 Their name liveth for evermore": H Antill, E Archer, W L Bishop, R Bowler, P Bowler, G H Brammage, F Brewin, T E Brooks, S Bull, F E Burford, R Dexter, R Dormer, C G Draycott, T Emerson, J Greasley, W Harriman (W Harrison), C Harvey, J Kirk, H Lole, W A Moore, S North, W North, A Nurse, K Pegg, G Poynor, A Preston, S Reid, J Ross, C Sleath, C Steel, P Toone, E Waldram, F Worden.
The Mountsorrel Granite Company generously gave the stone at cost price of £350. It is placed on the village green in the centre of old Rothley and it is the intention of the committee to fence the memorial in and hand both it and the sports ground over to the Parish Council as trustees for the village.
The service itself was simple, dignified and impressive. The Mountsorrel Band, under Bandmaster C Bates, led the singing of the hymns; prayer was offered by the Rev. F Norwood (Baptist) and the Lessons were read by Mr G Felstead (Primitive Methodist).
The unveiling ceremony was performed by Lt. Col. R. E. Martin, C.M.G. The names inscribed were then read by Mr E. F. Bull (Wesleyan).
Lt. Col. Martin reminded his hearers that like the twelve stones beside the River Jordan, the memorial before them should serve two purposes: first a commemoration and second it should be the medium of a lesson. At some length Col. Martin reviewed the fatal outbreak of war in 1914 when the world as we knew it came to an end. The twofold effect of our choice in 1914 was the apparent one that we should not acquiesce in wrong-and the actual-the continuance of our national existence-and the wave of enthusiasm was one for a cause in which honesty and truth were at stake. Col. Martin alluded to the meeting in the Liberal Clubroom at Rothley on Sunday morning at the outbreak of war, when he addressed a room full of men all anxious to play their part which was practically put into effect at Mountsorrel Drill Hall the next morning. With pride he detailed the deeds of the 1st Leicesters in their winter trenches at Ypres: of the 2nds in Flanders and Mesopotamia; of the Yeomanry who 2 miles east of Ypres stood from morn till midday, shelled and with no artillery support, their rifles choked with mud: of the 46th Division at loos with 1400 casualties in one and a half days: and the crossing of the canal at Belle 'l Eglise. Difficulties today would be overcome by that same spirit. To the children he would say "Look on this as yours. It speaks of the four years trial of your parents and the sacrifice made by those whose names are inscribed. Treat it with reverence, it is a constant witness that sacrifice is the law of life, and that the whole duty of man is to do what is law and right"
The Vicar (Rev. L. H. Pearson), in well-chosen words, dedicated the memorial and offered the Benediction.
"The Last Post" and "The Reveille" were sounded by Bandmaster Irish and Bandsmen A. E .Geary and J. Hurst from Leicester.
Mr H Hames, Chairman of the Parish Council, who has also been Chairman of the War Memorial Committee, presided, and others present included Messrs. F. Haynes and A. E. Wykes (secretary and treasurer of the committee), Col. Robinson, and Dr. H. Skipworth.
Beautiful floral tributes were deposited at the base of the memorial by relatives and friends, including a handsome wreath from the Rothley War Memorial Committee.
THE ABOVE REPORT WAS WRITTEN IN THE LEICESTER ADVERTISER DATED 30TH JULY 1921
ROTHLEY'S HEROIC DEAD
WAR MEMORIAL UNVEILED BY LIEUT. COLONEL MARTIN
The Leicester Mercury also reported on the unveiling in their edition dated 25th July 1921 with words very similar to those above but not such a full report on the unveiling ceremony speech by Lt. Col. Martin.
For details about the men named on the memorial please click on the following link:
To find out more about the other memorials in Rothley please click on the following link:
THE SECOND WORLD WAR
After the end of the 1939-1945 World War another War Memorial Committee was set up to add the names of the fallen to the existing memorial on Cross Green. J. Bruce Galloway was the Chairman and meetings were held on the 3rd and 12th February 1948 to plan what was to be done.
It was resolved that the sum of £150 be raised and the balance of £30 be kept to meet increased costs.
It was agreed that a letter (in Envelope) be addressed and sent to each householder in the Parish.
The village to be divided into sections and 13 receivers have been nominated.
Their names and addresses will appear in the letter and marked with a cross in their particular area.
Closing date for subscriptions is March 31st.
Mr Orton as Treasurer.
Account to be opened with Westminster Bank.
Receipts to be given for the money.
Prior to the above meeting the Clerk to the Parish Council, F.J.Perkins, had written to the Rev. W Joyce at the Rothley Vicarage:
With reference to the enclosed list of the fallen.
Will you please check very carefully the names of the "Fallen" from Rothley during the War 1939-45 and if correct, kindly sign and return same to me.
We trust that no name has been omitted from this list.
We shall be pleased to receive and consider any observations you wish to make regarding a super-scription, etc.
It has been decided by the War Memorial Committee that only the Surname and Initials shall be inserted on the Memorial.
Thanking you in anticipation
F J Perkins
Clerk to the Council.
In the meantime, the War Memorial Committee sent out an appeal for donations:
Estimates were obtained from W. Bruce Hancock of Rothley for the new slate panel, lettering and stone paving. The slate was Portmadoc and the flagstones York stone. The cost was £87.19.6d in the estimate dated 13th October 1947. It was all confirmed on the 14th May 1948 by letter to Mr. F.J.Perkins, Clerk to Rothley Parish Council, by W. Bruce Hancock.
The plans for the War Memorial 1947
"Venetian" pillars were proposed but rejected by the committee
ROTHLEY WAR MEMORIAL COMMITTEE
Village Hall, Rothley
28th February 1948
Dear Sir or Madam
As a memorial to the men of Rothley who fell in the service of their Country during the last World War, it has been decided, with the approval of the Parish Council, that some additions and improvements shall be made to the existing War Memorial on Cross Green.
It is proposed to fix an additional tablet to the granite memorial, on which the names of all those who gave their lives shall be recorded. It is also proposed to lay a flagged stone path up to and across the front of the memorial, and to lay turf in place of the existing gravel.
The War Memorial Committee feels that every Parishioner would wish to make some contribution towards the cost of this work and you are, therefore, invited to subscribe to the fund. The total cost is not expected to exceed £150 and it is hoped that as large a number of subscribers as possible will join us in raising this sum in small as well as in larger gifts. If, for example, every person were to subscribe 1/-, or every household 5/-, the sum would quickly be raised.
A number of ladies and gentlemen, whose names are set out overleaf, have very kindly agreed to receive subscriptions on behalf of the committee. Will you please take or send your subscription, before the 31st March next to one or other of these addresses; the one nearest to you is marked with an X. Please remember that small subscriptions will be as welcome as larger ones; all are needed. Mr. R.H.Orton, The Hollies, Mountsorrel Lane, has very kindly agreed to act as Honorary Treasurer to the Fund.
Those whose names it is desired to commemorate went out and gave their all. Your Committee believe that you will wish to make a token gift in their memory.
"At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them"
J. BRUCE GALLOWAY
The Rothley War Memorial Committee produced a Statement of Receipts to 14th May 1948:
Mr A H Westley, 40 The Rise, Rothley £9.19.0
Mr H Sleath, "Lyndhurst" Hallfields Lane £4.10.0
Mr G A Hutchins, Woodgate, Rothley £11.14.0
Mr P Cook, Woodgate, Rothley £11.0.0
Mr F J Perkins, Woodgate, Rothley £7.3.0
Mr H M Sleath, "Uphill", Mountsorrel Lane £3.3.6
Mr W S Hancock, "White Croft", Brownhill Crescent £32.11.6
Mr H E Winks, The Ridgeway, Rothley £18.16.0
Mrs Charles, "Sunnycroft", Swithland Lane £12.0.0
Mrs Padmore, "Brieryshaw", Swithland Lane £10.19.0
Mrs Matthhews, "Sandal", The Plain, Rothley £5.17.0
Making a total collected of £127.13.0
The unveiling was performed by Mr. J. Bruce Galloway on Sunday 25th July 1948 at 12 noon.
The gardens were completed later that year with En-Tout-Cas laying the turf at a cost of £40.12.6.
A letter from Walter Bentley & Sons, The Nurseries, Loughborough Road, Wanlip dated November 6th 1951 confirmed the delivery of 14 dozen "Frensham" Roses ordered for the War Memorial.
LOOKING AFTER THE WAR MEMORIAL
On the 21st July 1961 Rothley Parish Council wrote to the Mountsorrel Granite Company asking for advice on the cracks in the stonework and requesting help from their stonemason.
On the 28th July 1961 Walter Brown & Sons, Masonry Contractors of Soar Lane, Leicester reported as follows:
"There are three or four fractures, or faults, in the large block above the plinth. These are natural faults in so far as they were in the block when first quarried (a block of this dimension would be likely to have some blemishes). It would be wise to have the horizontal fracture at the left hand front corner "sealed up". There is a good sealing compound in use in our industry today which could be used on this fracture; it requires experience and skill in applying and the cost of this would be approximately £6 or £7.
The remaining faults could be left as we feel they do not constitute any danger, either from a safety or deterioration point of view. We are of the opinion that if the one fracture is sealed as suggested above, there would be nothing really amiss with the memorial although it might be advisable to have it inspected periodically-say about every five years.
Awaiting the favour of your further instructions which would receive our best attention."
Walter Brown & Sons
On the 16th August 1961 the estimate was accepted for the work to go ahead.
A WREATH-BY ORDER
FOUR SMALL BOYS DO PENANCE BEFORE WAR MEMORIAL
Reported in the Western Daily Press 23 November 1931
Four Rothley (Leicestershire) boys, who were concerned in the theft of poppies from a wreath on the Rothley war memorial, placed a wreath on the war memorial yesterday, in the presence of the donor of the wreath and two policemen.
The magistrate had ordered that this should be done at 10 a.m. But there was considerable indignation at the penance being made public and on Saturday it was altered.
The boys, however, carried out their promise to replace the wreath, and at nine o'clock went to the memorial and laid upon it a wreath of chrysanthemums.
It bore the inscription "With sincere regret from four Rothley boys."
The boys stood at the salute for a moment and then Colonel Robertson, who gave the wreath, a police sergeant and a constable shook hands with them, and they went home.
(2013 Note: This would most likely have been Colonel Robinson, not Robertson, who lived at The Grange, Rothley, and was involved in the Rothley war memorial.)
For more information about the War Memorial and the men who died please click on the following link:
To find out about all the War Memorials in Rothley please click on the following link:
We Will Remember Them