The City of Westminster has unveiled a special war memorial to commemorate council employees who fought and died during World War 1.
The striking design placed next to City Hall is made up of 82 shards which represent each of the council officers who fought and died during the conflict. The new memorial has been created during the centenary commemoration of the war in response to the council’s original Roll of Honour having been lost.
The names of those who served are inscribed on a circle surrounding the sculpture, and include officers from sweepers to financial clerks, a sign of how the horrific conflict didn't distinguish between people’s class and background. 11 councillors also served during the war.
Today’s ceremony mirrors the service held nearly a century ago for the unveiling of the original Roll of Honour with the Dean of Westminster, councillors and council officers all present just as they were in 1921 to mark this new commemoration.
The Lord Mayor of Westminster, Cllr Steve Summers, said: “In replacing the original Roll of Honour, this memorial recognises the heroism of ordinary people going about their daily lives who responded to the call to fight for our values and beliefs. They went on to do extraordinary feats in the war to end all wars and made the ultimate sacrifice. Their commitment to doing their duty has ensured we are able to enjoy the freedoms we do today, and we shall not forget them.”
Cllr Robert Davis MBE DL, Deputy Leader and cabinet member for the built environment, said: “We have been marking the centenary anniversary of the war and this year we have also remembered the battle of the Somme, so it is a poignant time to stop and reflect upon the sacrifices of our past as we look to the future. This memorial purposely placed next to Westminster City Hall will be a constant reminder for our staff and visitors to our offices, as well as passers-by, of all the people who served our borough and then went on to serve our country. They stand up for all that Westminster represents and will no doubt inspire future leaders and role models.”
Dignitaries were joined at the unveiling by local school children from Burdett Coutts and St Gabriel’s who have been learning about the Battle of the Somme as part of our Community Covenant work with local schools.
Cllr Rachael Robathan, Armed Forces Champion, said: “This new monument is a part of Westminster’s commitment to remembering our past and supporting our serving personnel and their families well into the future. Through our Community Covenant work we host a range of activities from regular workshops with school children to providing advice on housing in the borough. We will continue to work and engage with our forces to ensure they are well looked after in Westminster, and receive excellent care and attention.”
Pupils played the Last Post and read out the epitaphs they wrote to Private Ernest Boots, a road sweeper who fought and died at the Somme in 1916. The Dean of Westminster said the Lord’s Prayer before the memorial was unveiled and blessed.
Our Community Covenant work with schools continued into the afternoon with children from Westminster Cathedral performing a play based on the story of Ernest Boots at the Abbey Centre.
The sculpture was created by British artist Lee Simmons.