The unveiling of the Cenotaph in 1923

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Unveiling of Jersey's Cenotaph in 1923


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Jersey had a temporary wooden cenotaph for five years after the end of the Great War, before the permanent memorial was unveiled on the fifth anniversary of the Armistice in 1923. These are excerpts from the official programme for the event

It is hoped that the plot of ground on which the Cenotaph is erected will be a sacred place for all generations to come.

It is 'the empty tomb' – the memorial to our brothers who fell in the Great War, and who are buried somewhere behind that long battle line, or who met their end in the troubled sea.

A sacred spot, passing which, every man will doff his hat, and every woman bow, for it is the memorial to the men who gave their lives for England, Home and Country. It is placed here in the heart of the town rather than on the top of one of our rocky cliffs – a memorial not for strangers to gaze at as they approach our island, but in the midst of the men and women of Jersey.

Thousands will pass it as they approach the town, and the simple words: 'Jersey. To those of her children who have died for their Country' will centuries hence speak to the men and women of that day; and so in truth it may be said then and now:

'Their name liveth for evermore'
The Cenotaph ready for the 1923 unveiling ceremony

The Memorial

During the four years of the Great War, thousands of Jerseymen joined the forces of the Empire, and nearly a thousand of them laid down their lives for King and Country.


The States decided that the most suitable form of memorial to them from the island would be a cenotaph erected at St Helier, and on Armistice Day 1922 the foundation stone was laid by Sir W H Venables Vernon, Bailiff of Jersey. Subsequently the unveiling ceremony was fixed for the most suitable day of the year – Armistice Day, 11 November 1923.

The following constituted the committee entrusted with the erection of the Cenotaph: Jurats R Malet de Carteret, Ph Auin and J E Le Boutillier; the Very Rev the Dean; the Rectors of St Brelade and St Saviour; the Constables of St Helier, St John and St Mary; Deputies J H Orange, of St Brelade, E C Boielle and A M Coutanche, of St Helier.

The Cenotaph is constructed of selected grey granite from La Moye Quarries, St Brelade, and is erected at the lower end of the Parade – a site consecrated by sentiment by the fact that the temporary Cenotaph has stood there during the past three years.

It takes the form of an ornamental pedestal with pylon, supporting a sarcophagus in which is a chamber containing a roll of the names of those whose memory the Cenotaph perpetuates. The chamber is hermetically sealed, and is covered with a carved wreath, also in granite. The whole structure is raised on a graduated platform forming the St Andrew's Cross, and on either end appear the dates '1914'1918'. On the west side is the inscription:'Our Glorious Dead. Their name liveth for evermore'. On the east side is the inscription in French:' Jersey a ses enfants morts pour la patrie '.

Architect: Charles de Gruchy
Contractor: N H Harris

The Ceremonial

MCs: Deputy E C Boielle and Mr G J Le Masurier, secretary to the Constable of St Helier

Military arrangements

Thue committee, through the medium of the officers of the United Services Fund, invited the whole of the ex-servicemen – English and French – to parade to do honour to their fallen comrades, and the men will assemble at 2 pm at the Triangle Park, and will march via Cheapside and the Parade to the Cenotaph, entering the reserved ground by a gateway placed on the west road. They will be in position by 2.45 pm.

Detachments of the RMIJ and the OTC (Victoria College contingent) will parade at the same locale.

Lieut-Col W A Stocker (Officer Commanding RMIJ) will be in command of the whole of the above, with Capt A W Parker acting as Adjutant, with M C Dubras as liaison for the French contingent.

During the unveiling ceremony

A detachment of the King's Liverpool Regiment will also be present. The troops and ex-servicement will be formed up on the space about the Cenotaph.

States Assembly

The States of Jersey have been summoned by the Bailiff to meet at the Town Hall at 2.30, when the committee entrusted with the erection of the Cenotaph will report the completion of the work and the arrangements for the unveiling ceremony. The Bailiff will then invite the Members to accompany His Excellency the Lieut-Governor and himself to pay homage to Jersey's dead.

Representative bodies

The municipal life of the island will be represented within the space about the Cenotaph by four delegates selected by each Constable from the members of the municipality of his parish.

There will also be invited to be present the widows or parents of those who gave their lives for their country and whose memory the Cenotaph is intended to keep alive in this and successive generations.

The whole of the clergy of the island, of all denominations, have been invited to be present and they will stand during the ceremony in the immediate entourage of the Cenotaph.

All departments of the public service of the island will be represented by their respective chiefs; and invitations have been issued to the Consuls or Vice-Consuls of each of the Allied countries to be present.

In order that the rising generation of Jerseymen and Jerseywomen shall be represented, delegate pupils from the schools of the island will be present. Two scholars chosen from each will assemble at New Street School, and they will march to the York Street entrance to the reserved ground so as to arrive at 2.30.

Dedication by the Dean

The governing bodies of the Boys Brigade, Boy Scouts, Sea Cadets and the Girl Guides are also arranging that each of those organisations will be represented by detachments of 50.

The utmost simplicity as regards decorations will be observed. Masts will be placed around about the Cenotaph, from which will be flown the national flags of the allied countries, of the British Mercantile Marine, and the Jersey flag. A laurel wreath will be hung on each mast, and the whole linked up by a light festoon of foliage.

At 3 o'clock precisely a detachment of the RJA will commence firing minute guns from Fort Regent and will continue doing so during the unveiling ceremonhy.

Arrival of Lieut-Governor and States

At 3 o'clock the States, accompanied by the Lieut-Governor, Major General Sir W Douglas Smith, and preceded by the Banner and Mace, will proceed to the space to the immediate left of the Cenotaph, facing north, , the Viscount, Mr E T Nicolle, acting as marshal, the Jurats and Rectors wearing their robes.

The band of the King's Liverpool Regiment, under the conductorship of Mr G Passelow, Bandmaster, will play a Marche Solonelle during the passing of the States from the Town Hall to their allotted position.

The unveiling

The Bailiff, on behalf of the States, will request the Lieut-Governor, as the representative of His Majesty the King, to unveil the Cenotaph.

His Excellency will then perform the unveiling ceremony, and as the stone is revealed, a guard of honour from the RMIJ, posted facing the south side, will present arms and the buglers of the King's Liverpool Regiment will sound the Last Post.

At this moment, men representing the Navy, the Army and the Air Force, and the Island Militia, will be posted at each corner of the graduated pavement.

The programme for the unveiling ceremony

Dedication

The Rev W Vine, president of the Jersey Free Church Council, having read a passage of scripture, the Dean will offer the prayer of dedication.

Choir

The massed Eisteddfod Choirs, together with the band, will occupy a raised platform to the south of the Cenotaph, and conducted by Mr T Mayo, accompanied by musicians from the orchestras of the places of amusement in St Helier, will sing Blest are the departed dfrom Spohr's Last Judgment.

Oration

Following this the Bailiff will deliver an oration, at the close of which he will request the Constable of St Helier, Mr J E Pinel, to undertake the care of the Cenotaph.

The Constable will reply and the Buglers will immediately sound The Reveille. The choir will then sing the Hallelujah Chorus from Handel's Messiah.

Hymn of Thanksgiving

The whole assembly is invited to join in the singing of the hymn: Now thank we all our God, led by the choir and band, during which the Lieut-Governor and the Bailiff, and the Constables of the parishes of the island, will place wreaths at the base of the Cenotaph.

The public are particularly requested to join in the singing of this hymn, which was originally written as an expression of thanksgiving on the termination of the Thirty Years War – 1648.

Recessional

A slow march will then be played by the military band and the States will return to the Town Hall, where an Act of the day's pro9ceedings will be adopted and ordered to be placed on the island records.

The various bodies who have been present within the reserved ground will then file past the memorial to Seale Street, where they will disperse.

The troops on parade will then be marched to the Triangle Park, also filing past the Cenotaph and leaving the ground by the gateway on the west road.

The public will then be admitted by the York Street gateway only, and after filing past the Cenotaph, and handing their tributes to the stewards, will leave by either of the exits to the north of the enclosed ground.

Young Jersey's tribute

The Sunday ceremony was followed the next day, when the island's schools were closed, by a ceremony at the Cenotaph attended by the children of those schools, under the overall leadership of the Bailiff.

United Services Club

On the evening of Monday 12 November the Jersey United Services Club in Queen Street was officially opened by the Lieut-Governor and Bailiff.

The club was provided by the United Services Fund as a social centre and meeting place for all ex-servicemen who served during or before the Great War.

The main object of its institution was to foster in time of peace the spirity of unity and comradeship which existed between all during the period of strife.

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