Oldfield Park Junior School (Bath) WW1 Memorial Project
Claremont Methodist Church (Bath)
This small methodist church is now linked with the Nexus Methodist (formerly Walcot Methodist) Church on London Street.
This article from the Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette of Saturday 23 April 1921 tells of the memorial's unveiling by Sir Harry Hatt, the wartime Mayor of Bath who lost two of his own sons in the war.
WAR MEMORIAL BRASS
UNVEILING BY SIR HARRY HATT
In Claremont Primitive Methodist Church has been erected a War Memorial brass, and this was unveiled on Sunday afternoon by Sir Harry Hatt in the presence of a large congregation, including several members of the City Council: Alderman G. F. Powell, Councillors T. Vezey, E. J. White, A. H. W. Taylor, W. J. Baker, G. T. Cooke, E. Coleman, and C. H. Hacker.
The service, which was conducted by the Rev. W. Woodley, commenced with the hymn "Brief life is here our portion" and the last verse of "Jerusalem the golden." After prayer Psalm 46 was read out and then “O rest in the Lord" was sung by Miss Dorothy Walker.
The Rev G. E. Lloyd said they owed much to the brave lads who laid down their lives in the cause of righteousness and they were present to pay a tribute of affection to their memory, and to raise a memorial to their honour, so that they should not forget what they had done for them. As one who was there at the commencement of the great war, and who knew intimately those whose names were on the tablet, it was only fitting that he should have been asked to say a few words on that occasion. To some of them those brave men were known from their very childhood, to some of them they were bound by ties of blood and affection. They were dear to their hearts and it was no light thing to lay upon the altar of their country’s service.
GRANDER THAN PEACE
They did not forget the great cause in which their dear lads died. Never did our country unsheath the sword in a more righteous cause. He hated the very name of war; it was repugnant to his nature and all his life he had tried his best to promote peace, but had realised there was something grander than peace: there was conflict for the right, there was the struggle for the good others, there was the defence of the weak, the preservation of freedom and the establishment of justice. We owed to those who fought that we were safe from being the vassals of a despotic power. What would have happened had the enemy triumphed, he shuddered to think. It was for us to conserve and develop the principles for which these lives were given so that freedom should not depart from us, that the strong should not oppress the weak, and that our glorious land should be an example the wide world over.
Rudyard Kipling's "God of our Fathers" was then sung and, after the commendatory prayers the Rev. W. Woodley,
Sir Harry Hatt removed the Union Jack which had covered the memorial tablet, which is engraved:
Primitive Methodist Church
In grateful thanksgiving to God
for the preservation of the
lives the men associated with this church
who served their country in the Great War 1914-18.
And in loving memory of
who "Nobly serving, nobly fell."
Sir Harry Hatt said he was sure they would greatly treasure that memorial when they considered all that it meant. The time might come when in this world wars would be no more. But so long as there were men and women who held it their duty at all costs to uphold the great principles of righteousness, of truth, of justice, of honour and of liberty and to defend the weak against the oppression of the strong, so long there would be men and women who would always reverence the memory those whose names were mentioned on that tablet, and feel a pride in the fact that out of that small congregation no fewer than 27 were found to answer the nation's call in the hour of her greatest need, and who were faithful even to the last. The most eloquent, indeed the only adequate tribute he could pay the memory of those “who died that we may live " was so to order our lives that we might be worthy of the sacrifice which they had made.
THE TASK OF THE SOLDIER
There was one special lesson to be learnt from the lives of those men whose names were mentioned on that tablet. That was not a memorial to some great General whose name would stand out in the pages of history for all time. He believed all these men joined as private soldiers, that only one of them held a commission, and it was from this we could gather a lesson exceptionally necessary for the times in which we lived. Because with the exception of those days when they were engaged in actual fighting one might say, the lives of these men were spent in “the simple round, the common task” of private soldiers; tasks that were performed amid great hardships, much privation and very real danger. They were tasks that were monotonous and some them often obnoxious, but upon the faithful discharge of thoseduties depended not only the health of the army, but possibly victory in the day of battle. They knew how nobly and with what cheerfulness these men discharged those duties. Many people during the war left their ordinary occupations and took unwonted tasks which were necessary at the time, and, upheld by the enthusiasm and excitement of the war, those duties were discharged wonderfully well. Now the war had ceased, the enthusiasm and the excitement were gone.
“The tumult and the shouting
and we are left with all the glamour, to face once again "the simple round, the common task” of our everyday lives; some unattractive, some of them regarded as dreary, but just as necessary to the welfare of the community as those common tasks of the soldier to the army during the time of war. How were we approaching those tasks? With the same spirit of cheerfulness and faithfulness as those men discharged their duties in martial days. Was it not true to say that much of the unrest, the discontent and not a little of the unemployment of today was to be attributed to the unwillingness of many to go back to “the simple round, the common task.” Surely it would be beneficial if, with these troublesome clouds around us, we could look at these small memorials and take our trouble in spirit to the foot of those small wooden crosses.
A MESSAGE TO THE BEREAVED
At the end of his remarks, Sir Harry said, “May I venture to say a few words, I hope of comfort and cheer, out of a sympathy which I can feel for those whose thoughts will always be tinged with sorrow when they look upon this because of one loved name? It is often said that time has the power to heal all wounds. Jt would be truer to say that time has the power to make us more accustomed to them, for there are wounds which time can never heal. But, believe me, the pain can be assuaged and that you will find the truest anodyne for that pain in the thought that they are not only our sons, but that our Blessed Saviour has told us that they are not sons of men but sons of God and, if sons, then heirs. And may not we also believe that if heirs, then heirs to a long birthright of devoted and loving service and they have reached their inheritance early in life, an inheritance which can never be taken from them, but that we may share eventually with them if we only live worthy of them."
At the conclusion of Sir Harry's speech, the choir sang “Soldiers of Christ arise" and offerings, which will be devoted to the cost of the memorial, were taken. After "O God our help" had been sung and the Blessing, the "last post" was sounded outside the church.