In 2016 we commemorated the centenary of the Battle of the Somme which was fought between July 1st and November 13th 1916. It was one of the bloodiest military battles in history.On the first day alone, the British suffered 60,000 casualties,of whom 20,000 were dead. Sixty per cent of all officers involved on the first day were killed. Many of the soldiers who fought were young and experienced, and made up the “Pals Battalions” which had been raised in many towns and cities around the country, including men from Colchester.
Like so many towns and villages across the country, the residents of Colchester came to dread the sound of the telegraph boy’s bicycle as he rode it up the road, as it was his job to deliver the terrible news of the loss of a loved one. Every family would have known of someone who had died or had been dreadfully injured during the war.
At the end of the war, many communities in Colchester, as elsewhere in the country, raised the money for memorials in memory of those who had died. These memorials could take the form of big town centre memorials, such as the iconic War Memorial near the Castle gates on Colchester High Street, or small tablets in churches, schools or work places.
The memorials in Colchester have been recorded by Paul Rusiecki in his book The Impact of Catastrophe: The People of Essex and the First World War (1914-1920). As part of my research for my guided walk Love, Life and Loss – Colchester in the Great War on 2nd July 2016 for the Colchester Visitor Information Centre I tried to visit as many of the memorials as I could, photograph them and then write a few short notes about them here. I hope the visits will create a connection across the century between us and the names on the memorials.
Colchester War Memorial High Street more details
Colchester Town Hall Roll of Honour more details
Avenue of Remembrance
Avenue of Remembrance Memorial Wall
Colchester Cemetery Cross more details
All Saints Church Panelling more details
All Saints Church Shrub End Tablet more details
Christ Church, Cross more details
Essex and Suffolk Insurance Company Oak Door. more details
Garrison Church Now St. John the Wonderworker Russian Orthodox Church Banner
Goat and Boot pub Tablet Facebook
Head Street Post Office Tablet and Panel
Holy Trinity Church Tablet more details
Lion Walk Congregational Church (Now Lion Walk United Reform Church). more details Tablet
Police Station (Old police station on Queen Street, undergoing refurbishment as artistic hub) Is memorial in new police station? Tablet
Royal Grammar School more details Swimming Pool. Stained Glass Window
St. Barnabas Church more details Tablet
St. Botolphs Church more details Cross, Window 1, Window 2
St. Giles Church (now Masonic Centre). more details Tablet
St. James the Great Church more details Pedestal and Memorial Book
St. James the Less Church Chapel and Brass Gate. Peta. Tablet Statute of the Virgin Mary.
St. John the Evangelist Church more details Tablet
St. Leonard at the Hythe Church more details Window
St. Martins Church more details Tablet. War Shrine
St. Mary’s at the Walls Church (now Colchester Arts Centre) more details Memorial Chapel and Roll of Honour
St. Peter’s Church more details Tablet
St. Stephen’s Church more details Oak Shrine and Tablet
Oddfellows Lodges, Oddfellows Hall more details Oak Panels
Colchester Scouts St. George’s Club more details
Demolished or memorial removed?
St. Mary Magdalene Church (now demolished) more details Tablet. Tablet vestries.Organ chamber.
St. Nicholas Church (now demolished) more details Revedos
Spottiswode, Ballantyne & Co, The Hythe (Demolished) slab
St. Paul’s Church (Demolished) more details Roll of honour
Ancient Order of Forresters Butt Road
Cavalry Barracks more details Square tablet and Panels
Eastern Counties Hospital (Demolished. now a housing estate) bed
Co-Op (town centre) . Store closed – is the tablet still there? Tablet