The Dedworth War Memorial

November 2004

The war memorial outside All Saints’ is actually a war shrine similar to many erected between just before the end of the Great War (1914 – 1918) until well into the 1920s. Another example is outside St. Agnes, Spital.  Unlike most war memorials which bear long lists of names, this one shows just one. 

The inscription reads:

 

 

TO THE GLORY OF GOD AND IN LOVING REMEMBRANCE OF

BELFORD ALEXANDER WALLIS WILSON

AND ALL WHO LAID DOWN THEIR LIVES FOR THEIR COUNTRY

1914 – 1918.

MAY THEY REST IN PEACE


 

Belford Alexander Wallis Wilson was born on 19 November 1874 near the Hampshire/Sussex border. He was the eldest of ten children.  (Large families were common in those days.) He worked as a tea planter in Ceylon, now called Sri Lanka. Later he became a soldier and fought in both the Boer War in South Africa and the First World War. He saw action in the Dardanelles, and was wounded during the Battle of the Somme in 1916. He was awarded the Military Cross for gallantry.

When he died on 26th September 1917 during the Third Battle of Ypres he was 42 years old and a second lieutenant. His body was never recovered so there is no known grave.

It is not clear why he is commemorated outside our church, no connection with Windsor having been established (parish records are incomplete), but it is thought that maybe one of his married sisters lived nearby and paid for this memorial to be erected in memory of this brave man.

Following his death, his commanding officer wrote:

“He was loved by all the officers and men of the battalion, as one of the oldest and bravest…. everyone knows of the brave deeds he has done.”

 


 

Wallis Wilson is also remembered in three other places –

    1      2      3 

 

1 On his father’s grave in Leamington Spa.

2 The hundreds of names on the Leamington town memorial includes our Wallis Wilson.

3 On a memorial at Nuwara Eliya in Ceylon, now Sri Lanka.

Above is a copy of a memorial scroll to him.                              

Below is a copy of the telegram from the War Office sent to the family to inform them of his death:

                      With thanks to Colin Hague

 

This is how the memorial looked in the 1970s and 80s when the bell was still in the tower.

 

In the 1990s the war memorial looked a little different:

 

The cross used in this memorial was the original one from the Victorian church. As seen above it was originally under a small roof which gave it some protection. The oak is nevertheless very solid and hard wearing. 

At some point the figure of Christ was damaged so it was removed. The cross remained for many years. The cross eventually rotted at the bottom. It was the wood from the original cross which was used by Bob Woodcock to carve the small cross in the Memorial garden now. Bob had been a stalwart member of the church nearly all his life from the early days when he sang in the choir, through the years he played the organ.