Salute to the fallen as town marks centenary of its war memorial

Honiton War Memorial

Pictured left to right at Honiton War Memorial are Rev Sue Roberts, Terry Darrant, Paul Shaw and councillors John Zarczynski and Carol Gilson - Credit: Contributed

July 14th saw the 100th anniversary of the unveiling of the Honiton War Memorial, and the occasion was marked with a special public ceremony.

Following an introduction by the Town Crier Dave Retter, the event began with a short history of the Memorial, delivered by local historian and author Terry Darrant. The dedication ceremony on July 14th 1921 was, he said, the first public duty performed by the new Mayor Juanita Maxwell Phillips, who felt it an immense privilege that the duty should have come during her year in office. 

The War Memorial, she said, would remain “a remembrance for all time to our children’s children that we were a people faithful to our word.” She was to be Mayor of Honiton on 11 occasions, including when war broke out again in 1939.

The curator of Allhallows Museum Margaret Lewis said that, although Honiton’s war memorial pays a fitting tribute to 66 local men who fell during The Great War, the list of names tells only part of the story. Further research has revealed that there were at least another 77 men from Honiton who were killed.

Between 2014 and 2018 each one of these 143 Honiton men were remembered during a vigil held on the 100th anniversary of their death.

The Mayor, Councillor John Zarczynski, said that the memorial was a reminder: “Not only to us, but also future generations of the gratitude and debt we owe to our brave fallen.”

Paul Shaw, the chairman of the local branch of the Royal British Legion, spoke of how Honiton’s War Memorial has come not only to “symbolise remembrance of those who paid the ultimate price in armed conflicts over the last 100 years.” But, he said, it also symbolises community, as it has become a meeting place, an icon, and very much the centre of the town.

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There followed a presentation by Honiton Scouts on how they are continuing the tradition of young people acting as guardians of the war memorial. And finally, the Rector Sue Roberts gave a blessing, after which the tolling of the church bell reminded listeners of the sacrifice of all the local men and women who gave their lives in war.

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