THE WW2 MEMORIAL AT CHRIST CHURCH, EPSOM COMMON


Christ Church WW2 Memorial
Christ Church Memorial
Image courtesy of Clive Gilbert © 2014

The WW2 memorial at Christ Church, Epsom Common was dedicated by the Bishop of Stepney (the Rt Revd Robert Hamilton Moberly, a suffragan or deputy in the Diocese of London) on Sunday 6 November 1949 at a special service attended by relatives of the fallen. It is sited on the north wall in what Christ Church now calls its "Peace & Reconciliation Chapel", being the memorial Lady Chapel created from the North Transept in 1920 to house the parish's WW1 memorial, which forms the reredos to the Chapel's altar on the east wall.

Quite different from that WW1 memorial (where the names are carved into the reredos's wooden panels), the WW2 memorial is a 50cm x 2.4m bronze cast with lettering in raised Roman capitals. The inspiration for this approach came from a Christ Church member who had seen such a bronze tablet in a Bristol Church, probably the one pictured below.

The WW1 memorial of St Mary on the Quay, Bristol.
The WW1 memorial of St Mary on the Quay, Bristol.
(Picture courtesy of www.militaryimages.net)

The idea commended itself to the Church Council and was formally endorsed at the Annual Church Meeting in February 1948. It was originally thought that there were 24 names needing to be remembered, but the final count was 58 - one more than on Christ Church's WW1 memorial. There was a strong feeling within the Church Council that, unlike the WW1 memorial (which listed just Christian name and surname), this one should record rank and service. This resulted in too much material for a single plaque, and the Church Council accepted the recommendation of the commissioned architect/designer (local resident Cecil Grellier MC ARIBA) for the resulting memorial which, while still a single cast, is divided into five sections.

The central section contains the words:

1939-1945
THIS TABLET
IS PLACED HERE
WITH
LOVE AND GRATITUDE
TO PERPETUATE
THE MEMORY
OF
LIVES GALLANTLY
LAID DOWN
IN THE
SECOND WORLD WAR

As may be seen in the picture at the head of this article, that relief lettering is enamelled - red for the dates and blue for the remainder. (The only other enamelled letters are in the epitaph at the foot of the memorial - of which more below.)

The others sections list the 58 names (with rank and service), the contents of the two on the left being:

PTE.A. E. ADAMS,R.W.K. REGT.    L.A.C.C. C. GLADMAN,R.A.F.
L/CPL.F. C. BERRY,MIDD'X REGT.    L/SGT.L. E. GORARD,R. SIGNALS.
PTE.H. E. BLACKMAN,E.SURREY REGT.    F/SGT.R. GORDON,R.A.F.
CDT.A. K. W. BROWN,M.N.    TEL.P. GRANT,R.N.
W.O.B. M. BURNHAM,R.A.F.V.R.    F/O.O. L. R. HILLS,R.A.F.
SGT.J. CANHAM,R.A.    A.B.C. A. F. HOWELL,R.N.
2ND LT.J. A. CHAPMAN,R.T. REGT.    L.A.C.R. G. H. HUTCHINGS,R.A.F.V.R.
F/O.L. A. CLARK,R.A.F.    SGT.C. V. IRISH,R.A.F.V.R.
F/O.W. G. CLARK,R.A.F.V.R.    F/O.P. C. JACKSON,R.A.F.V.R.
A.B.J. W. CLIFF,R.N.    LDG/STO.W. W. LEWIN,R.N.
A.B.P. R. CLIFF,R.N.    P.O.C. LEWIS, R.N
CPL.G. G. COLLINS,R.T. REGT.    F/O.V. LOWER,R.A.F.V.R.
F/LT.A. COPESTICK,R.A.F.V.R.    LDG/STO.E. LEVERINGTON,R.N.
F.SGT.M. C. DANIELL,R.A.F.V.R.    L.A.C.W.M. LEVERINGTON,W.A.A.F.
A.B.C. W. EASTON,R.N.    A.B. R. W. MATTHEWS,R.N

And of the two on the right:

CPL.H. MOORE,R.A.F.    BOY STEW'D R. TOFT,M.N.
GNR.A. G. NEWBERY,R.A.    PTE.L. G. H. TREADGOLD,WORC. REGT.
S/LDR.W. T. PAGE,R.A.F.V.R.    PTE.R. D. TURNBULL,R. SUSSEX REGT.
SPR.T. J. PEDDIE,R.E.    CAPT.C. R. VEALL,R.A.M.C.
PTE.A. ROBERTS,R. NORFOLK REGT.    F/O.G. F. J. WAITE,R.A.F.V.R.
CAPT.J. C. ROLL,R. LINCOLN REGT.    MNE.B. WARD,R.M.
PTE.T. ROWLAND,D.C.L.I.    SGT.D. A. WATERMAN,R.A.F.
L/CPL.E. J. SAVAGE,R.M.P.    SGT.A. WESTON,E. SURREY REGT.
L.A.C.H. W. SELMAN,R.A.F.    CPL.G. WESTON,KINGS OWN REGT.
F/O.W. A. SKELTON,R.A.F.    TEL.W. J. WHITE,R.N.
P.O.J. B. SMITH,R.N.    P/O.E. J. WILBY,R.A.F.V.R.
A.B.G. R. STEEL,R.N.    RFM.P. E. WILLIAMS,LOND. IRISH RIFLES.
GNR.T. STEPHENSON,R.A.    GNR.R. G. WILSON,R.A.
PTE.F. J. STONE,E. SURREY REGT.       
F/SGT.R. D. TELLING,R.A.F.       
Clicking on the highlighted names will lead to more information
about those individuals on the Book of Remembrance Supplementary page.

In the border underneath the four outer sections are the words (in which the letters are enamelled red):

FOR YOUR TOMORROW / / WE GAVE OUR TODAY

(This is nowadays called the "Kohima epitaph", being the words inscribed on the memorial on the Burmese/Indian border marking that fierce WW2 battle. However, the words are drawn from some written in 1919 by poet and classicist John Maxwell Edmonds and offered for use on WW1 memorials.)

Apart from showing rank and service, another notable difference from Christ Church's WW1 memorial is that, in LACW Muriel Leverington, this one includes a servicewoman. She died, aged 31, on 1 May 1945, and is buried in Huddersfield - near her childhood home. (She was born on 18 June 1913 to Charles & Ellen Clegg, of Taylor Hill, Huddersfield.)

Sadly, the name immediately above Muriel's on the memorial is that of her husband, Ernest. They had married in 1932, and set up home at 15 The Crescent, Epsom. The 1939 Register records Muriel living there alone, Ernest perhaps already having joined the Navy - in which he served as a Leading Stoker on HMS Wakeful. In 1940, that destroyer was involved in the evacuation from Dunkirk. After a successful first trip, it returned for a second. On 29 May, while returning to Dover with 640 troops on board (plus the usual 110 crew), the ship was hit by two torpedoes. Only 26 survived the resulting explosion and its aftermath: Ernest was among the 724 killed - as was fellow crew member and parishioner Charles Easton.

There are two sets of brothers on the memorial. John (age 18) and Peter (age 20) Cliff were crew members of HMS Egret when, on 27 Augist 1943, it was the victim of the first ever guided missile attack, at sea off Vigo, Spain. Arthur Weston (age 23) died on 6 May 1943 during the North Africa campaign. His 31 year old brother, George Weston, died on 29 March 1945 during the first stages of the Allies' retaking Bologna on their advance through Italy.

The very different natures of Christ Church's two World Wars is shown by these pie charts analysing the arenas in which those listed on the two memorials were engaged.

Pie Charts

And it's a measure of how Epsom grew in the inter-war period that, while WW2 casualty rates were lower than those in WW1 - and noting that Christ Church's WW1 memorial includes names from what later became the separate parish of St Barnabas - the WW2 memorial's total of 58 names is actually one more than on the WW1 memorial.

Roger Morgan © July 2017


Webmasters Note:
After the second world war Epsom & Ewell residents decided to produce a "BOOK OF REMEMBRANCE". The book lists the names of 342 Epsom people who were killed, and includes civilians who were killed by 'enemy action'. In time we hope to provide some basic information about each person listed in the book, but feel we should complete the huge task of providing information on the fallen of the Great War. Meanwhile we rely on family members and friends to to supply any information they can on an individual by individual basis. The information already gathered is held on on the Book of Remembrance Supplementary page.



Memorial Summary

Address of Memorial : Christ Church, Epsom Common, Christ Church Road, EPSOM KT19 8NE
Location of Memorial : Within the church, which is in Christ Church Road between Horton Lane and Stamford Green Road
OS Map Ref : TQ195608
Type : Cast bronze
Physical Description : Cast bronze with lettering in raised Roman capitals.
Number of Names : 58
Access : Restricted as subject to church opening hours and church services.
UKNIWM Reference : Not currently listed


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