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The Dragon Says: Will There Be Enough Names To Make New War Memorial Viable?

Published on: 25 Nov, 2016
Updated on: 28 Nov, 2016

Dragon Says 470An additional war memorial is being considered to commemorate persons from Guildford who died in military action or service post-Second World War.

Guildford Borough Council has announced the plan and is asking for help from people who may be able to suggest names that would be suitable.

The council says it has not decided where the memorial might be situated, but it will be installed by 2018, “to tie in with the centenary of the end of the First World War”.

However, will there enough names to make it viable?

The council has already done some research of its own via official UK defence records and that has revealed the name of Flying Officer Francis Henry Giffard Booth, RAF, who died on January 27, 1953, during the Korean War. Evidently he came from Worplesdon.

The Guildford Dragon NEWS has been thinking on this topic.

Already known is Private Reg Streeter, Middlesex Regiment, who was the first British serviceman killed in the Korean War. He died on September 8, 1950.

He grew up in Stoughton and went to Northmead Boys School and then worked as a plumber with Maynard & Mulley in Church Road. He was best known as being a talented amateur boxer with the Onslow Boxing Club.

Pte Reg Streeter.

The national press made a huge blunder when it widely reported that a 19-year-old soldier was the first to be killed in the Korean War. Although it did not name him, it did report that he had a been a batman to a 2nd Lieut J. C. Bucknall. Reg’s family read the reports and knowing that he had been a batman to the lieutenant feared the worst. It was not for another three days did they then receive an official telegram informing them he had died.

The Dragon has asked the Surrey Infantry Museum to help. It is checking records to see whether it has men of the Queen’s Regiment from Guildford who may be eligible to be recorded on the proposed memorial. But no specific names, straight away, spring to mind.

Post-Second World War conflicts that UK service personnel from Guildford may have been involved in include: Malaya, Borneo, Aden, Northern Ireland, the Falkland Islands, the Gulf Wars, Bosnia and Afghanistan.

Dragon editor Martin Giles served with the Queen’s Regiment and was in Northern Ireland in the 1970s and 80s. He can’t recall any service personnel from his regiment being killed, who came from Guildford.

When the UK’s war memorials were erected in cities, towns and villages after the First World War, many were by public subscription and were not in any way ‘official’.

Much research in more recent times, often as war memorials have been renovated, has revealed all kinds of mysteries as to why men were commemorated on particular memorials, when, it would seem they had little connection with the place where those memorials stand.

For example, there are instances of names being included, not because the person was from that town or village, but a resident asked for it, as perhaps as he was a much-loved relative but had actually lived miles away.

Names were left off. Either those men were unknown to those who compiled the lists or their families didn’t want to see a name on a memorial they passed by regularly.

Our war memorials are not definitive lists by any means, as is often believed.

Guildford's war memorial in the Castle Grounds pictured not long after it had been dedicated in 1921.

Guildford’s war memorial in the Castle Grounds pictured not long after it had been unveiled in 1921.

Of Guildford’s First World War memorial in the Castle Grounds, the council at the time had no part in compiling the list of names on it. That job was undertaken by the then editor of the Surrey Advertiser, William Oakley, and local architect Harvey Lunn. The council did not pay for it, funds to the tune of £600 were raised by public subscription.

Presumably the council will pay for this additional war memorial.

There was talk of this in 2014 when Dragon writer David Rose was invited on a council-led committee to consider events to commemorate the centenary of the First World War during the period 2014-2018.

From somewhere (perhaps outside the committee meetings) it was suggested a post-Second World War memorial could take a much more modern form than a stone plinth engraved with names, and could be something along the lines of a digital display board with the names in LED letters!

It would be truly appropriate and proper to commemorate the fallen of more recent conflicts from Guildford on a memorial of whatever shape or form it takes. But how many would it take to make it worthwhile? 5? 10? 20?

And what would be the criteria? Guildford’s First World War memorial is of men who lived in the town area of Guildford. Would this new memorial contain names from across the whole of today’s borough – from as far as Ash to Effingham? Or should names be added to other existing memorials?

Some more thinking on this must surely be done at Millmead. And if only a few names are collected, why spend what may be good deal of money on a new memorial, when there is space to add those names to the existing memorial in the Castle Grounds, as other towns have already done, Weybridge being an example.

2 Lt George Nisbet, of the Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment, reads the messages on the wreaths laid at Guildford War Memorial.

2 Lt George Nisbet, of the Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment, reads the messages on the wreaths laid at Guildford War Memorial on Remembrance Sunday, November 13, 2016..

The council has said it would also like to set up a stakeholders group to oversee the new war memorial.

If you known of someone who you feel should be commemorated, Guildford Borough Council would like to speak to you. Call Phillipa Coldham on 01483 444856, or send an email to

Likewise, The Guildford Dragon NEWS would also like to hear. Please leave a reply in the box below.

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Responses to The Dragon Says: Will There Be Enough Names To Make New War Memorial Viable?

  1. Dave Middleton Reply

    November 25, 2016 at 12:21 pm

    Splendid idea, but lets keep the memorial conventional.

    Perhaps as suggested above, by adding the names with dates and conflict locations to the existing memorial in Castle Gardens, which makes a darn sight more sense and would be more cost effective than commissioning some newfangled monstrosity.

    Digital LED displays specifically excluded!

  2. Jim Allen Reply

    November 25, 2016 at 2:06 pm

    One must ask: Do too many memorials and remembrance days in the year detract from their purpose?

  3. Janice Dempsey Reply

    November 26, 2016 at 10:47 am

    Ironic that there have been so few servicemen killed in the last 70 years (though many grievously injured, of course) when there have been so many wars and conflicts in that time.

    A memorial to all the civilians killed in WW1 and WW2 would seem more appropriate, if impractical. The casualties of modern warfare are mostly civilians in the places where war are fought, rather than professional soldiers, it seems to me.

    Despite a Zeppelin raid in 1915, I am unaware of any civilian casualties in Guildford during World War 1 (civilian casualties, in Britain generally, were unusual in that conflict). It is believed that there were around eight fatalities from bombing in the Second World War. Perhaps their names should be added to Guildford’s war memorial? I wonder what others think? Ed.

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