Old Haberdashers’ War Memorials
The HOBC War Memorial appeal was finally closed on 31/3/1950, somewhat short of its original target which had envisaged, for instance, the construction of an open air swimming pool at Chase Lodge, surrounded by a Garden of Remembrance. In fact, the funds were used to provide two hard tennis courts and the Garden of Remembrance. The tennis courts were completed in 1951 and were in constant use by OH and their ladies on Saturday afternoons during that summer and for several years thereafter. But it was not until Old Boys Day on 12th July 1958, that the memorials were officially unveiled at Chase Lodge by the Headmaster, Dr Tom W Taylor. From Jerry Nodes’ photograph (reproduced in Skylark No 133) the following are recognisable – Arthur Kerswell (extreme left), Kenneth Blessley (two to his left) & Tom Taylor holding the flag. Next to the Headmaster is Bill Crossman, who read out the names on the day. Hidden behind him is GG Lloyd, the 1957/58 HOBC President, behind whom is Gwen Blessley. The rest of the gathering (including the cricketers) were spread around behind and to the right of the photographer. Others in the photo have been identified as Pop Oliver and the School Chaplain Rev “Spike” Redfearn.
Earlier, the HOBC had presented a Book of Honour to the School, which was kept at the back of the assembly hall at Westbere Road. The intention was that the School Captain would turn a page of it on each day of a School term. This was dedicated by Tom Taylor on 20/10/48. A little later the renovated 1914-18 memorial was moved to a space alongside.
The OHRFC War Memorial was unveiled by Dr Taylor, on 20th September 1952, the occasion of the official opening of the Club’s ground extension, which allowed for the 1st XV pitch to be laid and for the OHCC to commence their labours towards preparing a square on the unused space between the two old pitches and the new one. This was first used in the early summer of 1954.
The HOBC War Memorials were moved to the new Garden of Remembrance at Aldenham House as part of the general move to the new site.
The Prayer used for the Wreath Laying on each Remembrance Day is :
“Almighty God, we remember before thee at this time with humility those Old Haberdashers who gave their lives for us in two World Wars and in the Falklands Conflict.
Give us wisdom and grace to ensure their supreme sacrifice was not made in vain.
May we be inspired by this moment of remembrance and thanksgiving to apply with the spirit and character of all Haberdashers the blessings you place before us and may we, who have been nurtured in harmony, continue to live in harmony and impart that way of life to all others. Amen”