FOR KING AND COUNTRY
Dedication of War Cross at Layer de la Haye
On Sunday afternoon, October 28, the Bishop of Colchester, (Dr Whitcombe) unveiled and dedicated a War Cross which the people of Layer de la Haye have erected in honour of those valiant men of the village who have fallen in the war. The cross stands on the green by the side of the cross roads in the centre of the village. These cross roads were always picturesque, with the pond, the high over- shadowing poplar tree on the green where children play and the old blacksmith's forge and now the huge oak cross standing up out of it's beautiful red brick base makes the corner a very striking one. There is a local tradition that in old days a cross originally stood there and that is, perhaps, why this War Cross seems at once to belong to the spot, and that is quite natural to see its wonderful shadow in the water of the pond, standing up, as it were guarding the village.
The particular Sunday chosen for the dedication ceremony was one of those rare, still, sunny autumn days, which is a characteristic of this period of the year, and a crowd of about 500 people assembled for the service. The troop of Layer scouts and the scouts from Birch formed a guard of honour round the cross, which was veiled with a Union Jack. The service opened with the singing of the hymn, "The Saints of God, their conflict past", and then the Rev. G. Fawcett, Wesleyan Chaplain to the Forces at Colchester (whom the Rev. F. W. Hille the vicar of the parish had invited, together with Mr Wilson, Primitive Methodist local preacher, to take part in the service), offered prayer. The hymn "For all the Saints", was then sung and Mr Wilson read the lesson.
The Bishop, standing on the steps of the cross, offered several prayers, after which he slowly lowered the Union Jack and dedicated the cross, on which is carved the words "Greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends" and "To the Glory of God and in honour of -" then the names of the fallen men. Dr Whitcombe then gave a short address, speaking of the cross as being the great sign of our faith. He said the cross had once been a symbol of shame and ignominy, but now it was the great symbol of honour - that the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross had created for the world the highest and most honourable orders of merit - the Victoria Cross, Distinguished Service Order, etc, - all bore the sign of or were fashion in the shape of a cross. Speaking especially to the children and boys present, the Bishop told them that in the old days crosses were erected to help people to worship, and that he hoped the children, as they passed this cross on their way to school, would just stop a minute and ask God to bless our soldiers and sailors. He said he felt war crosses would especially help the younger generation, who in years to come might be inclined to forget the tremendous sacrifice which their fathers and brothers had made for them. These valiant men had saved England and died that we might live and grow up in peace. He told the boys they must be prepared to carry out the great principle of the cross - that of self-sacrifice, as indeed, everyone must in order to make the England these men had saved a better place.
The hymn "The Supreme Sacrifice" was then sung, and the Bishop gave the Blessing. After a short silence 16 buglers of the Durham Light Infantry (by kind permission of Colonel Jeffery's) sounded the "Last Post". The band of the same regiment played some selections and the Scouts marched off saluting the cross, and were afterwards inspected by Col. Jeffreys.
The Cross was erected by Mr Hutton.
Extract from newspaper 28th October 1917
Article and photo from the collection of John Morse.
Transcribed by Anne Taylor
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