Brentford's War Memorial
A brief history of how the names came to be there
Every November at 11 o’clock on the nearest Sunday to the eleventh day, tributes to Britain’s war heroes are held across the country during Remembrance Day services.
Brentford’s war monument located outside Brentford’s Library is our local Memorial.
It's here residents, former soldiers and borough dignitaries came a week ago to pay their respects to all the brave Brentford men who went to war and sacrificed their lives for our liberty.
The names inscribed on this monument when unveiled in 1923 were restricted to men who were resident in Brentford at the time of their enlistment.
At the end of the war many towns and villages up and down the country unveiled memorials to be able to focus their grief in the absence of an individual grave.
Brentford was no different to any other town, wanting to record and remember its own local heroes.
A committee would have been formed to decide what type of memorial would suit them best.
Looking at the names they include the Sons of some of Brentford’s most important families. For example:
J. Gomm - a local brewery family
W. A. Bradbury - the wholesale grocer family delivering all over London
Frederick Goddard - local Furniture Company.
Edgar Turner - the son of Fred Turner Brentford’s librarian.
Now normally war memorials are funded by subscription.
In some parts of the country if the family could not contribute towards its memorial then their names were not included.
I don’t think Brentford had a problem with this; money was never going to be an issue because the families with influence had all lost a son.
The committee would first enquire who and how many names should be included on their memorial,
Names taken from the local papers obituary columns from the previous 4 years was an easy start
But it’s usually from here that the wrongly spelt surnames or initials when first recorded are then reproduced incorrectly onto war memorials themselves.
They had to decide what type of memorial they wanted that would include so many names:
- A sculptured angel or soldier on top as we have at Heston.
- Something more practical that doubled as a clock tower like the one in Isleworth.
- Or Memorial Homes for returning soldiers and their families, we have those in Burlington Lane,
A square column, three sides of which lists the names of 378 Brentford men with the words ‘PRO PATRIA’S surrounded by an ornamental wreath was adopted.
In what order were the name to be recorded:
by Service: Army, Navy and a column for those in The Royal Air Force.
by Rank: Highest rank at the top followed by other ranks below.
Alphabetical was the layout chosen this kept the name of brothers next to each other and they had at least 4 or 5 sets of brothers to be included.
One Brentford-born man was Sgt Robert Spall of the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry (Eastern Ontario Regt), who was killed in France on 13th August 1918, aged 25.
His citation reads ‘Serjt Spall deliberately gave his life in order to extricate his platoon from a most difficult situation and it was owing to his bravery that the platoon was saved.
For this he received the Victoria Cross.
The St Lawrence War Memorial recently refurbished and relocated to the Brentford Library memorial garden was included for the first time this November in our Remembrance Day ceremonies.
Recently moved from its original location facing the High Street outside St Lawrence Church, this move saved it from possible damage from overgrowing trees within the church yard and years of neglect.
November 19, 2009