Life Death & Remembrance
GREAT WAR STAINED GLASS WINDOW MEMORIALS IN KENT: AN INTRODUCTION This introduction gives a general overview of the subject and purpose of a series of short studies of Great War stained glass memorial windows in the county of Kent. Given the expense of stained glass, it is surprising how many memorials in this form exist throughout the country. Some are dedicated to individuals, some to community groups. The ones examined here are dedicated solely to individuals and erected in the county of Kent (old boundaries) by relatives as memorials to family killed serving in the armed forces during the Great War. My approach is to offer a short biography of the dedicatee, an account of his death (in context) and an analysis of his stained glass memorial. I do not possess the skills to assess the artistic merit of the windows, but am interested in teasing out, where possible, some of the hidden or private meanings embedded in the memorials. I am sure that there is much information on the individuals commemorated and their families that I have not discovered. I am equally certain that there is much more to be learned about the memorials. I would welcome contact with anyone who can assist me in filling out the analyses presented here. Please see under Contact on the website for the best way to contact me. A Short General Overview The number of Great War stained glass memorial windows currently identified in Kent stands at thirty-eight, although two of these no longer exist. Thirty-eight Great War casualties are commemorated (there are two brothers Pitt commemorated in one window in Stansted parish church and Midshipman Trevor Hayles has two windows commemorating him in St Mary’s, Greenhithe). In addition, there is one stained glass thanksgiving window at St Mary’s Hinxhill, celebrating the survival of Captain G.H.W. Green of the Royal Flying Corps. I have included this window in the series, but not in any statistics. The memorial windows can be found in twenty-eight churches, one cathedral and one school (See Figure 1). All of these foundations are of the Anglican faith. Of those commemorated, two died serving in the Royal Navy; eight in the Royal Flying Corps (RAF from February 1918); twenty-two in British infantry regiments of the line; three in Guards’ regiments; one in the Indian Army; one in the Remount Service; and one in higher command (a Brigadier-General commanding an Infantry Brigade). Only three were not officers. Six died in 1914, five in 1915, eleven in 1916, seven in 1917, eight in 1918 and one in 1921. Brigadier-General R.N. Bray was the last casualty. He died on 23 October 1921. As the Imperial (now Commonwealth) War Graves Commission declared that all deaths occurring after 31 August 1921 would not be official war deaths, Bray does not have an official headstone. But as the dedication on his memorial makes it clear that his family thought that he died for his country, he has been included. The average age of those commemorated in Kent was 26.6, with the median age being 24. The youngest was 16-year old Midshipman Trevor Hayles and the oldest was Bray, although Major Neil Macpherson of the Indian Army was 45 when killed in 1914. Thirteen were under the age of majority, which was twenty-one in the early twentieth century. Seventeen (45%) were either only sons or only surviving sons. Their deaths, therefore, brought these families in the male line to an abrupt and unforeseen end. The social profile of the British Army’s officer class in the pre-war Edwardian years was privileged but, except for certain Cavalry and some élite infantry regiments, scions of the aristocracy did not dominate most messes. The landed classes remained important, of course, but many landed families were of fairly recent origin and had made their money in finance and business. The fathers of many officers worked in the professions, especially the law and the church and there was an increasing number who were following family tradition by entering the armed forces. The social profile of the officer class changed during the war as the size of the army grew exponentially. There are some hints of these changes in the group of officers who were commemorated by stained glass windows in Kent, but the more traditional backgrounds, especially the professions and families committed to military service over several generations, remained very important. The socially élite nature of the officers is shown by their education. Of the 32 whose secondary schooling in England is known, 26 (81%) attended public schools, with the remainder receiving their education at grammar schools. Twenty of the public schools were members of the Headmasters’ Conference, an annual meeting of the Heads of the most prestigious public schools. Among those commemorated three had attended Eton, and another three were educated at Rugby. Harrow, Winchester, Haileybury and Malvern educated two each. Three attended schools—two at Dartmouth Naval College and one at the United Services College—especially established to educate boys for the military services. Seven went up to university and five graduated from the Royal Military College, Sandhurst. Memorialising individuals killed in the war by erecting stained glass windows was, therefore, mainly confined to upper-middle class families and above. The windows are spread across the whole of Kent, although there are more in the generally prosperous west than in the east. There is a small cluster on the fringes of south London (Sidcup, Beckenham and Bromley) and another around Ashford, but no stained glass memorial dedicated to an individual has been found in the larger towns of Maidstone, Canterbury, Dover, Sevenoaks or Tonbridge. Stained glass memorials are mainly to be found in small rural parish churches, both old and relatively new foundations. ________________________________________________________________________________ 1. Captain Maurice FLETCHER, 2nd Royal Munster Fusiliers 2. Captain and Adjutant Frank Scobell NISBET, 2nd Manchester Regiment 3. Major Neil MacPHERSON, 2nd King Edward VII’s Own Gurkha Rifles (The Sirmoor Regiment) 4. Captain Cyril James ASHTON, 6th Queen’s Own Royal West Kent Regiment 5. Private Cecil FEARNLEY, 1/15th London Regiment (Civil Service Rifles) TF 6. 2nd Lt and Flying Officer Norman Rausch de POMEROY, 11th Squadron RFC 7. Lt Godfrey Valentine Brooke HINE, 2nd Battalion Irish Guards 8. Lt Charles William JEMMETT 7th Buffs (East Kent Regiment) 9. Lt Ronald Charles Wybrow MORGAN South Wales Borderers attached No. 55 Squadron RFC 10. Midshipman Trevor George Lawless HAYLES, HMS Defence 11. Captain Arthur Felix WEDGWOOD, 1/5th Staffordshire Regiment TF 12. Captain Leonard Neville ROGERS, 1st attached 18th Northumberland Fusiliers 13. 2nd Lt Richard Gerald MILBURN, 2nd East Surrey Regiment 14. Lt Leonard Comer WALL, A Battery, 275 Brigade, Royal Field Artillery, 55th (West Lancashire) Division TF
Copyright  2019 M. Durey. All Rights Reserved.
British Army Officers in the Great War