The history of the War Memorial, Downend

Downend can proudly boast the only Boy Scout War Memorial on public land in the country, erected in 1921 in memory of members of the 1st Downend Scout Troop who lost their lives in the great war of 1914-1918.

First on the list is Rev Philip George Alexander, who was appointed curate of Christchurch Downend in 1910. In 1909 he founded the Downend Scout Group and in April 1913 he married Fannie, a daughter of the vicar, Rev John Walter Dann. Fannie was related to two notable Downend Families: she was a niece of both Lady Cave and W.G. Grace. Philip Alexander took up a naval chaplaincy on H.M.S. Blenheim in 1912, from which he was transferred to H.M.S. Falmouth and in 1916, he was aboard HMS Hampshire: also aboard was Lord Kitchener, the British Secretary of State for War. Lord Kitchener was on his way to Russia where it was hoped he could persuade that country to stay in the War against Germany but, as the ship was sailing near the Orkney Isles, she was sunk by a German mine on 5th June 1916. All but 12 of the crew were lost. Lord Kitchener and Philip Alexander were amongst those who lost their lives. Rev. Philip George Alexander is commemorated on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial. This means that, sadly, his body was never recovered. He is also remembered on the Royal Naval Cemetery at Lyness, Orkney. At the time of his death, his wife Fannie was living in Bath. But what about the other six names and what do we know of them?

Photo 01.06.2014Private Arthur Hammond was born in Cardiff, the son of George and Maria Hammond, but by 1911 he and his family had moved to 5 Downend Park, Downend. He enlisted in the Devonshire Regiment but was killed in action on 24th April 1918 at the age of 19. He is buried at Pozieres Memorial in France.

Private Albert Edward George, the son of Thomas and Clara George. He lived at 1 Downend Park and enlisted in the Eighth Battalion of the Gloucester Regiment. He was killed in action at the age of 19 on 18th November 1916 and is buried at the Thiepval Memorial.

Private Douglas Henry Callaghan, the son of Richard and Eliza Callaghen who lived in Dial Lane, Downend. He enlisted in the Machine Gun Corps (Infantry) but was killed in action at the age of 19 on 23rd August 1918. He is buried at Douchy-Les-Avette British Cemetery in France.

Corporal Frederick George Carnelly, the son of Harry and Ada Carnelley was born in Doncaster but by 1911 he and his family were living at 121 Downend Road, Fishponds. He enlisted at the age of 18 in the Royal Garrison Artillery but was killed in action on 26th June 1918 at the age of 21. He is buried at Departement due Pas-de-Calais, Nord-Pas-De-Calais France.

Private George Davis, son of David and Elizabeth Davis, lived at Clarence Road, Downend. He enlisted in the 1st/7th Battalian of the Worcestershire Regiment but was killed in action on 16th June 1917 at the age of 19. He is buried at Fresquieres Hill British Cemetery.

Sapper Harold Randolph Hill, the son of Albert and Caroline Hill of Florence Villa, 25 North Street. He enlisted in the 1st/2nd (South Midlands) Field Company of the Royal Engineers. He was killed in action on 18th August 1916 and is buried at Aveluy Communal Cemetary Extension.

Some of these names also appear on the War Memorial in Page Park which was erected “in glorious memory of the men of DOWNEND AND SOUNDWELL who gave their lives in the GREAT WAR 1914 – 1918 “Their name liveth for evermore”. This War Memorial also lists other residents of Downend who lost their lives in that conflict.

February 2015 – The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport has decided to add Downend Boy Scouts’ War Memorial to the List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest. The memorial is now listed at Grade II.