LOOKING BACK - March 16, 2017 edition

Tom Reynolds is in the middle of the picture, slightly behind the main group
Tom Reynolds is in the middle of the picture, slightly behind the main group

Opening of the Memorial Gates

I was enthralled writing this week’s Memory Lane, as it brings together two separate but linked stories.

A choir ticket to the opening of the gates in 1922

A choir ticket to the opening of the gates in 1922

The first stems from our recent mentions of Rugby Recreation ground, the trees and the Memorial Gates. Colin White kindly got in touch to tell me that the Memorial Gates were unveiled on Sunday March 12, 1922 at 3pm. He knows this because his father kept not only his ticket from being a member of the choir but the service sheet too.

The Rugby man chosen to officially open the gates was Tom Reynolds, who you may remember was the sad subject of our 100 years ago archive on November 24 last year, having lost three sons in the war with a fourth in hospital. Tom’s great-granddaughter Barbara Coleman has been able to tell us much more about the family, which I will bring you next week.

In her picture Tom is the man standing at the back of the main group, in the middle, with dark moustache.

Colin White’s father Frank, a 26-year-old member of St Andrew’s Parish Church choir, sang at the service for the ‘Unveiling, Dedication and Opening of the Memorial Gates’ exactly 95 years ago. A pupil at Murray School he went on to live in Eastlands Road and finished his working life as a roundsman, delivering goods from the railway.

The cover of the order of service

The cover of the order of service

His ticket from that day asks the choir to use the entrance by the tank, so I wonder what happened to that set of gates? The service began with The Supreme Sacrifice hymn, O Valiant Hearts , followed by Mr Lewis Loverock (chairman of Rugby Urban District Council) requesting Field-Marshal Earl French of Ypres to unveil the memorial and address the Company.

The Dedication was by the Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich (who I believe was Albert David, headmaster of Rugby School from 1909-1921).

Last Post was played before the gates were opened by Tom Reynolds and formally handed over to the Urban District Council by Mrs Arthur James (President of the War Memorial Committee).

During the second hymn, O God, our help in ages past, wreaths were laid. The service continued with The Benediction, The Reveille and singing of the national anthem. The Ven Claude M Blagden, Archdeacon of Warwick, Rector of Rugby led the prayers before the Lesson (Wisdom iii 1-9) was read by The Rev John H Lees . Finally there was an Inspection of the Guard of Honour, composed on the 272 How (War) Battery RFA and the Rugby Detachment of the 7th Batt Royal Warwickshire Regiment.