Planning a memorial for our fallen soldiers

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Leighton Buzzard Writers’ weekly LBO column. This week by Mike Moran

When looking at the war memorials which exist in our town, we ought to remember that, until 50 years ago, Linslade and Leighton Buzzard were run by separately elected Urban District Councils and located in different counties, the River Ouzel being the boundary between Buckinghamshire and Bedfordshire, with Linslade being in the former.

Thus when the Great War finally ended it was natural step for the town of Linslade to plan its own memorial to those who had fallen.

Linslade War Memorial is described as a Cross of Sacrifice and is 18ft high and mounted on a stepped dais.

The inscription reads: “1914-1918: To the memory of the men of Linslade who gave their lives for the Country in the Great War”.

The 41 names of those who died are then listed. It should be remembered that, according to the 1911 Census, Linslade had a population of about 2,000. Therefore the loss of so many men of the younger age-groups was considerable.

The memorial was unveiled at a service of dedication led by Doctor Johnson Harris, the chairman of Linslade Urban District Council before a large crowd at 11am, November 11, 1920 in Linslade Square, which was at the junction of Wing and Old Roads. It was a poignant moment: Doctor Harris made a moving speech in which he mentioned that, as a local General Practitioner, he had known many of those named on the memorial from an early age.

The memorial remained in Linslade Square until 1955 when, because of increasing road traffic and the danger of it being hit by vehicles, the decision was taken to move it to the specially created Mentmore Memorial Gardens.

The reasoning behind transferring the war memorial to its present site was understandable, yet regrettable because it was no longer at the focal point of Linslade but hidden away from the gaze of the general public.

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For more information call Mike Moran on 01525 370720 or 07926 083896.