Centenary for Walden war memorial and British Legion

Bob Curran and John Moran of Saffron Walden Royal British Legion, lay a wreath at the war memorial

Bob Curran and John Moran of Saffron Walden Royal British Legion laid a wreath at the war memorial at 9am, exactly 100 years to the hour since the RBL was formed. A wreath was laid at the Cenotaph in London, as well as wreaths being laid all over the country. - Credit: © Celia Bartlett Photography

Residents have commemorated 100 years of the Walden war memorial and the British Legion.

On Saturday (May 15) a wreath was laid at the High Street war memorial to commemorate the founding of the organisation, which had Royal added to its title 50 years later. It took place at the same time as a wreath was laid at The Cenotaph in Whitehall, London.

And on Monday, a larger event was held. RBL Saffron Walden vice chairman Andrew Pain gave a short history on both centenary commemorations of the War Memorial and the Royal British Legion.

Royal British Legion is going to celebrate turning 100 on May 21, 1921.

Royal British Legion at 100 - Credit: Royal British Legion

Andrew Pain Vice Chair of Saffron Walden RBL gave a reading.

Andrew Pain, Vice Chair of Saffron Walden RBL gave a reading. - Credit: © Celia Bartlett Photography

Bugler John Hammond in Saffron Walden

Bugler John Hammond at Saffron Walden Royal British Legion's event for the RBL 100th year - Credit: © Celia Bartlett Photography

This was followed by The Last Post, two minutes silence and Reveille. The bugle was played by John Hammond.

Town mayor Richard Porch laid a wreath on behalf of the town, Revd Jeremy Trew addressed those present and Carol Pike read a poem about the war memorial.

A floral tribute of red, white and blue flowers, in the shape of 100, was laid before the event commenced.

A reading about the Saffron Walden war memorial

Carol Pike read a poem about the war memorial in Saffron Walden - Credit: © Celia Bartlett Photography

The Last Post was played for the commemoration of 100 years of the Royal British Legion

The Last Post played for the commemoration of 100 years of the Royal British Legion - Credit: © Celia Bartlett Photography

Mayor Richard Porchlays a wreath on behalf of the town council

Saffron Walden Town Council Mayor Richard Porch lays a wreath on behalf of the town council - Credit: © Celia Bartlett Photography

Mayor Richard Porch said: "It was an honour to be asked to attend the 100th anniversary of the formation of the Royal British Legion.

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"Numbers attending were restricted because of the Covid regulations but the Legion’s organisation of the ceremony was outstanding and appreciated by both those attending and the small number of onlookers.

"0n May 7, 1921 our war memorial, erected by the towns people of Saffron Walden, was unveiled, bringing further significance to the ceremony.

"I was particularly moved, as I know were others, by the poem read out which really brought home the experience of one survivor of the war and the significance of the memorial."

Standard bearer Bob Curran, President John Moran and Vice Chair Andrew Pain of Saffron Walden

Standard bearer Bob Curran, President John Moran and Vice Chair Andrew Pain of Saffron Walden branch of the Royal British Legion - Credit: © Celia Bartlett Photography

Bob Curran and John Moran of Saffron Walden Royal British Legion, lay a wreath at the war memorial

Bob Curran and John Moran of Saffron Walden Royal British Legion laid a wreath at the war memorial at 9am exactly 100 years to the hour since the RBL was formed - Credit: © Celia Bartlett Photography

Bob Curran and John Moran of Saffron Walden Royal British Legion, lay a wreath

Bob Curran and John Moran of Saffron Walden Royal British Legion, lay a wreath at Saffron Walden war memorial - Credit: © Celia Bartlett Photography



*  Historian Robert E Pike shares this photo of the RBL marching through Newport on Remembrance Day 1925. Can anyone identify any of these veterans? Email editor@saffronwalden-reporter.co.uk

A Royal British Legion event from 1925. 

A Royal British Legion event from 1925. Can anyone name these participants? - Credit: RBL/supplied


Robert E Pike's poem read by Carol Pike:

DEDICATION OF THE WAR MEMORIAL  MAY 7, 1921

The May sun shone weakly over the assembled throng

As he found a secluded spot above the scene.

That morning for the first time since they came,

He had, with trembling hands, opened the box of medals.

It had been difficult to assemble the gaudy ribbons,

But he persevered, awkwardly pinning them on with safety pins.


Making his way laboriously leaning heavily on his stick,

He found his place by the Baptist Church,

Looking down the High Street over the hushed throng

Resplendent in their Sunday best, a sea of fluttering Union flags.

Remembrance and pride had been the order of the day,

Not grief, but the numbers of spotless white handkerchiefs

And the sound of smothered sobs, belied this.


It was nearly three years since the guns fell silent;

Five since a Hun bullet had shattered his ankle – and his dreams.

But although he awoke less, sweating and afraid

And the faces had begun to fade, he remembered

With frightening clarity how each of them went –

Walter, at Suvla, carelessly standing up in the trench,

Shot in the head , whilst extolling the virtues of the buxom Bertha

Whom he loved. Sid, ever eager, the first over the top at Serre,

The first to be killed and Tom, near the end, near Achiet,

Hit by the creeping barrage and never seen again, not a trace,


The dedication done, the afternoon sun slid behind the watching houses;

On the skyline witness through the ages the ancient church

Now saw the slow dispersal of the still hushed crowd

Slow as they lingered over beloved names; reluctant to leave, to finalise their loss.

He waited, till all but a few remained, making his way

Through the assembled riot of poppies, up the steps to the names.

Names of school-friends, comrades, nearly overwhelming him,

So many, so long ago, it seemed.


He turned, his first intent to go down the hill to the Comrades Club,

But even the prospect of a beer did not attract him –

He wanted, no, needed to be alone with his memories.

Once home he carefully removed the medals replacing them in their boxes.

Sitting by the fire, he wept for the first time,

Sobs that wracked his slender frame, tears for friends, for the loss of innocence,

For himself – till he could weep no more and he slept.

A reading about the war memorial in Saffron Walden

A reading about Saffron Walden war memorial - Credit: © Celia Bartlett Photography

Bob Curran and John Moran of Saffron Walden Royal British Legion, lay a wreath at the war memorial

Bob Curran and John Moran of Saffron Walden Royal British Legion laid a wreath at the war memorial at 9am, exactly 100 years to the hour since the RBL was formed. A wreath was laid at the Cenotaph in London, as well as wreaths being laid all over the country. - Credit: © Celia Bartlett Photography

Bob Curran and John Moran of Saffron Walden Royal British Legion, lay a wreath

Bob Curran and John Moran of Saffron Walden Royal British Legion laid a wreath at the war memorial at 9am exactly 100 years to the hour since the RBL was formed. A wreath was laid at the Cenotaph in London, as well as wreaths being laid all over the country. - Credit: © Celia Bartlett Photography