Oldfield Park Junior School (Bath) WW1 Memorial Project
Percy Chapel (Bath) WW1 Memorial
The Percy Chapel congregation formerly met in the building that is now home to the Elim Pentecostal Church on Charlotte Street. Its War Memorial containing names from both World Wars is now sited at the Bath Central URC Church in Argyle Street.
|The former Percy Chapel.|
The memorial was unveiled in 1920, as described in the Bath Chronicle & Weekly Gazette of 17th January 1920:
HONOUR TO THE FALLEN
MEMORIAL UNVEILED BY A FORMER BATH PASTOR
IMPRESSIVE SERVICE AT PERCY CHURCH
The Percy Congregational Church memorial, in honour of the ten lads in fellowship with the church who made the supreme sacrifice in the war, is in the form of a neat mural tablet, the base being of oak, and the names of the fallen in black sunk letters on a brass plate. It is placed under the gallery on the western wall of the building, and thus occupies a fairly prominent position.
FORMER PASTOR'S ADDRESS
It was particularly appropriate that the Rev. G. Palmer Lewis, of Ryde, the predecessor of the present Pastor (Rev. Sydney Milledge) should have been invited to unveil the memorial, for he was intimately acquainted with the boys of the church, and, without a moment's hesitation, he accepted the opportunity of paying his tribute to the lads who had sacrificed to the uttermost.
It was in the presence of a large congregation that the unveiling took place, this ceremony being preceded by an address by the Rev. G. Palmer Lewis, who said, with a single exception, he could one-by-one speak of those boys whose memory they were honouring. But it would be too harrowing, he remarked; a burden greater than some could bear. He was not there to move; he was there to point out, if he could, the meaning of the hour, the significance of that memorial service, which had a message for them and for himself. It told, in the first place, of a deliverance from what would have been the most cruel and the most heartless rule in the annals history. English life under the domination of the Kaiser would have spelled servitude, a long-drawn-out agony. That was the deliverance. Mr. Lewis quoted the statement by a war correspondent that when a representative of Roumania ventured to remonstrate on the cruel hardness of the Roumanian peace treaty, the Junker said if the Roumanian only knew the conditions they were going to impose upon England he would be thankful that he had got off so lightly. Deliverance! "We have not yet," observed Mr. Lewis, "understood the meaning of this great thing that has come to us. If we did, we would lift up our voices in prayer, praise, and thanksgiving."
THE COST OF DELIVERANCE
Touching on the cost of that deliverance, he said, there were 900,000 dead, the best and the bravest of the sons of the Empire. That was the cost, and it was so appallingly great as to be well-nigh inconceivable. That memorial service told them something about their responsibility. It was so heavy, but he thought could name it in one or two words: a better world; a better, holier and more Christlike world. That was the responsibility, and that was the obligation they had to discharge. In his quiet moments he loved to dream of the England that was to be. Never the same England again for any them. Nothing could ever bring back Rupert Brooke to literature or Raymond Asquith or Neil Primrose to the State, nothing could bring back the lad to his widowed mother or the father to his bairns. He loved to dream of the England of tomorrow, an England purged of its dross and cleansed of its impurity. Mr. Lewis pictured a noble building erected by loving hands at the heart of their beloved Metropolis, and said they would pass into the great central hall. High in the dome were the heroic figures of the nation: Kitchener, French, Haig, Robertson, Plumer, Allenby, French, Jellicoe, Lloyd George, Bonar Law, but, higher up still, would be a khaki lad, a type of the sons of the empire, bearing upon his face the scars of battle, on his tunic the stains of blood. And leaning forward and speaking to the sea upturned faces, he would say; "We left our homes for you; jeopardised our prospects for you; endured the tortures of hell for you; sacrificed our lives for you; you have debt to pay, it must paid — a better England."
Asking how that obligation was to be discharged, the speaker said it could only be done in one way, and that was by loyalty to the King. He admitted that he could not define loyalty, but he did indicate something of its potency, and told how it could turn ordinary men into heroes. Then speaking, not as a minister, but as a man to men, he expressed his belief that without Christ civilization must fall back into barbarism. He believed that the people of England, saved by the mercy God from mortal hurt, if unrepentant, would suffer the penalty of the apostate nations of history. They were told that Christianity had failed: it was not true. The Church's interpretation of Christianity had failed, but Christianity had not been tried. They were breathing the foul atmosphere of a sordid materialism: they had not been loyal Christ; they had broken His laws. In practice they had been atheistical, and said they would not have Him to reign over them. He was their King; they owed Him allegiance. Given that, all things were possible — liberty, fraternity, brotherhood. Would to God that in that memorial service — it might be in the invisible presence, who knew of their loved ones — they entered upon a solemn compact to make Jesus King. He was worthy of the throne; He deserved the crown; let them join to make him King.
Mr. Lewis then proceeded to unveil the tablet, remarking as he did so, "It is now my privilege to unveil this tablet, erected in memory of the sons of this church who nobly died for the world's freedom."
The impressive service, which was conducted by the Pastor, was preceded by the playing of "O rest in the Lord." The hymns included, "The strife is o'er ,the battle done" and "For all the Saints", the choir sang two anthems, and Mr. H. Parker gave a sympathetic rendering of "Comfort one another." The lessons comprised the first part the burial service (1 Cor. xv.), Rev. vii., 16, Wisdom iii., 1-9, and portions of Ecclesiasticus xliv. Before Mr. Lewis' address the names of the fallen were read out, the congregation standing meanwhile, and there was then an interval of silent prayer.
To assist anyone researching servicemen appearing on this memorial, the inscriptions are as follows:
In grateful and loving memory of those
who laid down their lives in the Great War
My soul hath them still in remembrance