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Old soldiers object to church moving their war memorial

Taff Gilligham with the Suffolk Regiment Cenotaph in St Mary's Church. ANL-140618-160204001

Taff Gilligham with the Suffolk Regiment Cenotaph in St Mary's Church. ANL-140618-160204001

Old soldiers and friends of the Suffolk Regiment have objected to a project to move their regimental cenotaph in St Mary’s Church.

But the vicar of the Bury St Edmunds church says the move will take the 90 year old memorial to the regiment’s World War fallen more prominent and bring it closer to other memorials in the Suffolk Regiment Chapel.

Work has started on preparing the new site beside the chapel at the opposite end of the church to the cenotaph’s current location on the left of the main door in St Wolfstan’s Chapel. Other memorials around the cenotaph will also be moved to the new location.

But those who object thave used social media to criticise the move and its timing.

Military historian Taff Gillingham, chairman of the Friends of the Suffolk Regiment and secretary of the regiment’s Ipswich and district Old Comrades Association, said the church had consulted the Royal Anglian Regiment and Royal British Legion but not his members.

“The old boys and the families of those who died are the people it is intended for,” he said. “It is where the spirt of their loved ones lay, even if their bodies are in France.”

“In the 1920s those who lost people in the First World War thought St Wolfstan’s Chapel was the site for it. The architect designed it to fit that space.

“A lot of people are angry about it. I’m more disappointed than angry. The reason to move it ought to be stronger than needing a tidy up.

“There’s also the timing of it. It’s less than three months to the anniversary of the outbreak of the war.”

Among the memorials to be moved is a plaque to Col Charles Brett, commander of thee 2nd Battalion, who died with a third of his men holding back the German advance at Le Cateau only three weeks after the outbreak.

Mr Gillingham said: “To move his plaque now, I think is disrespectful.”

But St Mary’s vicar Rev Canon Malcolm Rogers stressed: “For me the memorials are precious and while I remain vicar here it will continue to be so.

“I’m sorry we didn’t consult more widely but I think we’re promoting its position.

“We’re not pushing it to one side. We’re not diminishing it.”

He said they had also spoken to people who attended Remembrance Day services at the church when the move will mean the congregation can more easily see the laying of wreaths at the cenotaph.

He also hit out at misinformation on social media. “They have been saying we’re getting rid of the cenotaph, which is just not true,” he said.

 

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