Yesterday at 11am a ceremony was held at Port Sunlight War Memorial to commemorate the one-hundredth anniversary of its unveiling. The ceremony was conducted by the Minister of Christ Church, Port Sunlight; Reverend Ian Smith.
The ceremony was inspired by the Order of Service from 1921 and included music and wreath-laying by Port Sunlight children. A two-minute silence was observed.
The ceremony started with a recording of Handel’s “Ombra mai fu” (otherwise known as “Largo from Xerxes.”) This was followed by words of welcome from Reverend Ian Smith. Opening the ceremony, he said “One hundred years ago today this Memorial was unveiled. Some 7000 people gathered, having processed from services at Christ Church [Port Sunlight], St Andrew’s, Bebington, St John’s New Ferry and St Mark’s, New Ferry, and a special service for children at the now-demolished [Port Sunlight] auditorium.”
Following the introduction, an extract from Lord Leverhulme’s unveiling speech was read out by Port Sunlight Village Trust collections officer, James Hayes (full text below.)
The Port Sunlight Village Trust was able to trace descendants of Sergeant Eames and Lieut. George William Harvey; two men who were involved in the unveiling of the memorial in 1921.
Sadly, Norman Harvey, the son of George William Harvey, was unable to attend, so his nephew, Andy Harvey and the great-granddaughter of Sergeant Eames, Jo Jacques, along with her own daughter, Betsy Jacques unveiled the war memorial, replicating their forebear’s involvement at the 1921 ceremony.
Reverend Smith led a prayer that included the lines, “It bears the names of those lost in the First and Second world wars. We will not forget them. We rededicate this Memorial today to their memory. Weaving past sorrow and future hope help us be mindful of the debt we owe others and the opportunities that lie ahead.”
The prayer was followed by the Exhortation:·
They shall grow not old
as we that are left grow old
Age shall not weary them,
nor the years condemn
At the going down of the sun
and in the morning
We will remember them.
Those present responded: “We will remember them.”
A bugler followed the Exhortation with The Last Post, at the end of which, those gathered observed a two-minute silence.
Following the bugler’s Reveillie at the end of the silence, Reverend Smith read The Kohima Epitaph:
When you go home, tell them of us and say,
for your tomorrow we gave our today.
Then children of Church Drive School laid wreaths, which were replicas of those laid in 1921, at the memorial. This was followed by the National Anthem and others laying wreaths.
The ceremony closed with a blessing.
The Grade I listed Monument designed by the eminent Welsh sculptor Sir William Goscombe John was erected to honour the memory of the 481 men from Lever Brothers killed in the First World War and recognise the 4,000 employees from Lever Brothers companies worldwide who fought in the war.
The extract from Lord Leverhulme’s unveiling speech read out by Port Sunlight Village Trust collections officer James Hayes
“We are assembled here to witness the unveiling of our village record and our tribute to the brave men who, from the firing of the first gun to the winning of victory, offered themselves and their bodies as a shield and defence of our liberties. We are to see it unveiled by one who bears upon his body the disablement, the wounds, the injuries and the scars of the great war. I find myself overwhelmed by the magnitude of the task of addressing myself with adequate justice to the bravery this monument commemorates, of giving expression to the feelings that are welling up in our hearts at this moment. We cannot honour these brave men, neither the dead or the living; they have honoured us.
“In winning victory you achieved a noble task, but your task here at I home and throughout the British Empire is today a still nobler one. The result of victory is not a reward but a new task – a task only yourselves can perform. You and our task – your and our nobler task – is to win and to consolidate peace. The foundation of war is hatred of our enemies. The foundation of peace is brotherly love and the banishment of all hatred, even those nations who so recently were our enemies.
“Trade and commerce must be turned to their normal channels, or we endure the agonies of unemployment with attendant hunger, sickness and suffering beyond mortal strength to endure. We must restore trade and commerce to its accustomed channels with our former enemies. We must forget they ever were our enemies. After all, it is not the people of enemy kingdoms who began the War, but their rulers and governments. The governments and rulers have gone, never to return.
“Christmas-time is drawing near – the New Year will soon begin. Let us all, now at this Christmas season, consecrate ourselves to the nobler task of restoring peace and goodwill, love and fellowship, trade and commerce with all people – with our former enemies no less than with our sorely tried and true and trusted Allies. That is our nobler task and the best memorial to our Glorious Dead”