Witley – 1919

The January 1919 Parish magazine lists the Witley Roll of Honour for those who died 1914-1918 , a total of 41 men.

Click here to see a transcript listing all the names and to download a pdf (PDF) copy of the page.

WIT_16_37 Jan 1919 RoH SGW

Roll of Honour from the January 1919 Witley Magazine. SHC ref WIT/16/37.

On the last day of the year the school children had celebrated the Victory Xmas with an entertainment and tea, and much to their delight Mrs Longmore provided a real Christmas Tree ‘with presents for everyone’ (230 children).

On January 21st a guard of honour and the band of the 8th Reserve come to the Church to claim, on behalf of the Battalion, the Colours of the 124th Battalion, General’s Body Guard. The men of the Battalion are now part of the Canadian Engineers and the Colours will go to Toronto to the Battalion HQ.

The February 1919 magazine contains a Roll of Honour and at the end of the list it says “The full list of all who served is unavoidably left over till next month”. Regretably the later editions of the magazine held in the archive do not include the full list of those who served.

In the April 1919 magazine another Witley honour is recorded, a Military Medal for continuous good service in France and many acts of bravery and leadership on the battlefield for Joe Bonner.

The June magazine reports that on May 5th the last Canadian Colours, those of the 185th Cape Breton Highlanders were removed from the church. The 25th Battalion from Nova Scotia came from the Camp to take them back with them. The Regimental Goat wore his silver shield with the record of his battle honours ‘Poor goat, he will not like demobilisation! What a dull time he will have after all the excitements of trench and camp life.’

In the same magazine there is also the report of the first meeting to consider a memorial inside the church. A bronze statuette of Victory had come down on approval from the Fine Arts exhibition and was generally approved of. Further designs were to be considered later.

Further signs that the villagers were eager to try to return to normal include reports of summer Strawberry teas and the return of cricket with a match against Dunsfold ‘the first match since Albury played here on Aug. 29 1914’ as well as requests from the vicar for contributions towards a summer outing to Hayling Island for the Sunday School children, again for the first time since 1914.

In July the Memorial Committee submit three schemes to the parishioners,

  • A Memorial in the church – 2 designs to be submitted, estimated cost £300
  • A large Cross, 14ft high of Portland stone, in the churchyard – one design submitted, estimated cost £150
  • The provision of a Public Recreation Ground and Playing Field – estimated cost £1200 (or a Village Hall with stage and class-rooms but this would be more costly).

In August the decision about the memorials is announced; a church memorial designed by Miss Mary J Newill was adopted, inspired by a doorway of the tenth century in the Cathedral in Cattaro in Dalmatia. A decision was made not to proceed with the stone Cross in order to concentrate on raising money for the recreation ground. On July 6th a Peace service had been held in the Park with over 1000 attending, followed by Peace celebrations on July 19th with sports for the children and demobbed Witley men winning a tug-of-war against the village civvies and Canadian soldiers.

In November 1919 there is a final report about the Sunday teas at the Institute thanking all the volunteers and especially the vicar’s wife Mrs Newill; they had started in May 1915 and continued until May 1919, supplying a total of 20,332 teas that were enormously appreciated by the soldiers. The final balance of the funds is used to pay the deficit on the cost of the Canadian panelling in the church and to fund brass tablets recording the fact that certain Canadian colours hung in the Church.

Written by Carole Garrard, Surrey History Centre based on information from the Witley Parish magazine.

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