Dates make town memorial unique

Basingstoke Gazette: Dates make town memorial unique Dates make town memorial unique

THE tender for Andover’s Great War memorial, designed by the architect Captain Herbert Crowley, was won by Harry Page of the Angel Yard Works.

Built of Portland stone it stands 21ft high and has Tuscan corner pilasters, a dentil cornice and a stepped top. Its hexagonal base consists of three York stone steps.

The memorial itself is square in plan with four panels, each surmounted with a wreath of laurel, bearing the names of the 214 fallen in plain block letters.

The names run alphabetically, save for some late additions to the roll at the bottom of each of the panels. The inscription, which runs around the frieze, reads ‘Our glorious dead rest in peace, but their name liveth for evermore’ and is in plain sunk letters, while the reading on the front panel, ‘To honour the memory of those men of Andover who fell in the Great War 1914-1920’, is in Roman lettering.

In recent years there has been some debate as to the reason why the memorial bears the dates 1914-1920, which is thought to make it unique among UK memorials.

The reason often stated, but which is factually incorrect, is that it reflects the Hampshire Regiment’s involvement in the North Russian Campaign in 1920.

Two units of the Hampshires did indeed go to Russia in 1919, the 2nd and 1/9th (Cyclist) Battalions, helping the White Russians fight against Bolshevik forces.

However, both battalions were back in England before the end of the year, returning on 6 October and 5 December 1919 respectively.

No unit of the Hampshire Regiment served in North Russia in 1920, and indeed no Andoverians serving with those units died during the campaign.

The town did, however, suffer one casualty in Russia, William Brown of South Street. He was serving with the 46th Battalion Royal Fusiliers when he was killed in action near Troitza on 10 August 1919.

The actual reason for the dates 1914-1920 is rather less glorious than that previously claimed.

The dates simply reflect the years in which the town suffered casualties directly attributable to the war, the final man to die being Captain Frederick Owen Maynard of the Army Veterinary Corps, who succumbed to the effects of malaria in Egypt on 12 January 1920.

He is the only man from the town currently commemorated on the cenotaph to have died in that year.

However, there were at least two other serving soldiers from Andover who died after Captain Maynard who are not recorded – Reginald Frank Bashford Robbins and Albert McLawrence Keylock, who died on 7 and 8 February 1920, respectively.

As part of Andover’s First World War commemorations, Reginald Robbins’ name is to be added to the memorial in August this year.

Reginald was a Royal Engineer who died of influenza and was buried in the cemetery behind St Mary’s Church.

His name was included on the original roll of honour and appeared in the programme for the unveiling, but it seemed that his death came too late for it to be carved on the actual memorial.

Plans are already under way for the commemoration of Albert Keylock and about 30 or so other ‘missing’ casualties from the town (including three women) in time for the centenary of the armistice in 2018.

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