|Preston Catholic College War Memorial, Preston Lancashire|
Researched and compiled by John Garlington
In memory of Leo Warren 1937-2004, who taught me History at the College.
Catholic College Memorial is now kept at
Cardinal Newman College, Lark Hill Street, Preston and
displayed near the Principal's Office (since Oct
The First World War
The Catholic Grammar School was opened by the priests of the Society of Jesus in Winckley Square in 1865 and continued its educational work through various phases and guises to 1978. It became The Catholic College in 1898. In 1914 there were 149 boys at the school, but by 1918 the numbers had risen to 210. After some erratic growth in the 1950s the college numbered over 900 boys in 1971. Four hundred and fifteen Old Boys served in the Armed Forces during the War, fifty of them were wounded and fifty five of them died as a result of their service. One former student was awarded the OBE, two the DSO, six the Military Cross, nine the Military Medal and six were mentioned in dispatches.
A Solemn Requiem Mass was said at St Wilfrid’s on Monday 26 February 1917 for the Old Boys killed in the First World War up to that point. It was attended by the whole school, parents and relatives, and was another stage in the process of pupils praying for those involved in the War. Fourteen former scholars had been killed up to that point and, together with some of the parishes in Preston, thoughts about some sort of memorial were being voiced, with St Ignatius’s starting their Penny Fund and St Walburge’s also starting to raise money. At the College Mass a speaker, presumably Fr Welsby SJ, Rector and former Headmaster of the school said, “… to perpetuate the memory of the share the College has taken in the sacrifice of the War, it has been proposed to erect a memorial tablet in the College and also to secure photographs of all of those who have been killed.”
Even more sacrifice had to be made in the coming eighteen months as thirty eight more Old Boys were to lose their lives as a result of the War. A memorial was eventually put in the College and the photographs were published in the special Winter edition of the College Magazine in 1919 and successive editions. The Magazine itself had been a record of former pupils’ war activities, publishing letters and accounts from them from all theatres of the War. This was an achievement for a publication in its infancy, the first properly printed edition being June 1916. It also published the names of the known dead and wounded up to 1920 and therefore stands as its own memorial.
Fr Grafton SJ returned to the College in 1922 as Headmaster. From 1915 to the end of the War in 1918 he had been a military chaplain and was therefore very keen to promote the idea of a College War Memorial. The Hall, built in 1895, was much smaller than any later Old Boys may remember and was mostly used as a classroom. Fr Grafton built classrooms elsewhere and made the Hall a space for the school to assemble and functions to take place. He eventually had it extended in 1926 to include a stage and green room. Five years earlier he had had a gallery built, and it was on the front of this that the War Memorial plaques were placed.
The Memorial could never be described as a rushed job. Many other ecclesiastical and secular institutions had completed theirs earlier, but extensions to the College buildings, by JH and W Mangan, former pupils themselves, caused the delay and the school authorities in any case wanted a prime site for the plaques. The completed Hall was seen as the ideal place. The Gallery was finished in pitch-pine to match the rest of the school buildings, especially those built in the 1890s. The Memorial Panels are carved in Honduras mahogany and contain the College Arms in the centre. This is flanked by the Latin inscription:
QUI PROCUL HINC ET ANTE DIEM PRO DEO ET PATRIA IMPIGRI MORTEM OBIERE QUORUM ANIMAS DEO DEIPARAEQUE ENIXE COMMENDATAS HABETE
(Constantly and fervently commend to God and the Mother of God the souls of those who, far from here and before their time, willingly underwent death for God and their country)
This, in turn, is flanked by the plaques themselves.
The whole venture cost £450 and was raised by public subscription, something which Fr Grafton hesitated over before being persuaded by others, including the Archbishop of Liverpool. An indication of his feelings about public subscription was demonstrated in 1927 on the occasion of his second appeal, this time to fund the John Wright Memorial Library, a forerunner of the modern College Library, and the eventual home of Form VS for many years - the Wright Room. “To be in the position of a beggar is very embarrassing, while to be a “beggee” is sometimes even more embarrassing.” (College History p64). Fr John Wright had been a previous Headmaster from 1899 to 1907.
At first, donations flooded in from all quarters of the College community, though they slowed considerably near the end. The Fund closed in January 1927, three months after the Memorial had been unveiled. At each end of the plaques were two silver torches -shaped electric lamps or flambeaux, which were to be kept alight for ever. About these the Preston Guardian said, “There is something inspiring and moving in the idea of this light burning in perpetuity” (20 November 1926). In the years to come the electricity burned by these was paid for by the College Parents’ Association.
The cost of designing and installing the memorial can be put into financial context when it is appreciated that the average weekly wage in 1926 was £2. Some of the parents and former pupils may not have earned that much, though those from the middle classes must have done. The Centenary History of the College remarks that by 1914 the social make-up of the school was changing because of the intake of pupils from artisan families and every social class from professional to labourer was represented, so it could no longer be said that the College was devoted to the Catholic middle class. In 1926, Britain was just emerging from the then worst economic slump in its history with well over a million men unemployed. The General Strike, with its own financial disruption, took place in May.
Earlier, in the January issue of the Magazine, the Rector, Fr Paul Whittaker SJ, Fr Grafton and Councillor Oswald Goodier JP, Chairman of the Catholic College Association, had written an open letter to the College community describing the memorial, proposing the names (then 49), stating the final cost and appealing to all to give generously: “We do not…anticipate any great difficulty in raising the amount required…we are convinced that subscriptions will flow in almost without the asking…”. The words “pious duty” were also used to inject a little religious blackmail. From these remarks it seems that these men were out of touch with the real world, one being a successful lawyer and the others living and provided for in a community which had taken a vow of poverty.
The List of Subscribers was possibly opened in November 1925, the month dedicated to the Holy Souls and the dead in general. In the first rush of donations, the College lay staff were some of the first to contribute, including Mr Brodie, Mr Flynn, Mr “Big Ben” Bolton and Mr Astley. The first total, £86/3/-, was published in the January 1926 edition of the Magazine. All seemed to be well.
In the next edition, July 1926, the editor, Fr Thomas Sheridan SJ, included the next list of contributors accompanied by some fairly acidic remarks, perhaps his own, but more likely those of the Head or the Rector:
“Below we append new contributions since January. The type is small; so is the total at hand…relatively to the amount required: £ 450. We hope that a combined effort will be made to reach that sum before the Opening of the Memorial. After all, all Schools and College have their War Memorial as a DEBT OF HONOUR.”
The amount in question was £ 212/15/1. Among the contributors were the relatives of those killed, and others such as parish priests, Old Boys and classes in the College such as IIA, VIB, IIIA, IA and the Lancaster Boys (i.e. those who travelled from there each day). Councillor Oswald Goodier JP, the College solicitor and a former pupil, gave £5 and the Catholic College Association gave the proceeds of two dances - £7/10/-.
The December edition printed a second open letter from the Rector, The Headmaster and Mr Goodier. The tone of this is one of relief, though it complains that only half of the College community with whom they had been in touch had made a contribution and they appealed for more funds to cover the two silver torches. The amount raised was shown to be £394/19/11. The extra cost was never fully covered by the Memorial Fund, but by the Catholic College Association. The fund was closed in June 1927 and the final total was published in the July 1927 Magazine, the total being £453/16/10, a few pounds over target. Subscribers who had the same surnames as those on the Memorial are included in Appendix 4.
The opening ceremony took place on 14 November 1926 in the presence of parents, former pupils, clergy and local dignitaries, and the Memorial was covered with a Union Jack. It was unveiled by Captain Francis Blundell MP, OBE and the blessing was performed by a former curate at St Wilfrid’s, Fr Frank C. Devas, SJ, DSO, OBE. Fr Devas had served as a military chaplain during the War and went on to bless the new College buildings later in the evening.
The lamps continued to burn on, day and night, for over sixty years until Lancashire County Council became responsible for the school as part of its reorganisation into a new Sixth Form College. The County people responsible for this process refused to finance the lamps’ electricity, also citing health and safety reasons, and so, the lamps were switched off. The new, temporary name of the College became “Newman College (Winckley Square - Boys)” which lasted until the site was closed in 1987, and Newman College, now known as Cardinal Newman College, was totally amalgamated at Lark Hill. The Memorial was saved and was placed on a wall on the first floor of the College Library, albeit with the plaques in the wrong order. In October 2005 it was moved to a more prominent place near the Chapel, close to the Second World War Memorial, which was also saved in 1987. All the names are also included on the Memorial at St Wilfrid’s, Chapel Street, as this church was closely connected with the College.
As with many other war memorials, The College Memorial may have caused some headaches and contains a few inconsistencies. The special War Edition of the Catholic College magazine in Summer 1919 was an attempt to finalise, up to a point, the list of former pupils killed in the First World War between 1914 and 1918 or as a result of it. The Magazine editor chose to arrange the epitaphs in no particular order, though the officers were put before the other ranks. These forty five epitaphs vary in quality and detail, and a list was provided, this time in alphabetical order, under the legend “Pro Deo Et Patria” and bordered in black. Underneath are the names of William Finch and John Moss who were still officially “missing”. The military authorities presumed they were dead shortly after. There is also a list of all the former pupils known to be serving in the Forces. One name, that of Henry Woods, is included as a fatality but does not appear in the epitaphs or later on the Memorial itself.
In the years which followed, Leo Chaloner and William Swarbrick were added, so that the list prepared in early summer 1926 had forty nine names on it. Between then and work starting on the memorial plaques, four more names were added, those of Reuben Brown, John Harrop, Denis Rattle and Francis Valentine. Regrettably, little is known about three of these as the editor of the magazine confined himself to an epitaph for Denis Rattle only. A whole school generation had passed since 1919 but no information was given for these or updated for the originals. As a result vital details have been lost.
This list of fifty three names was carved into the plaques in six columns, three on each. A photograph of the College Hall gallery in the Magazine of January 1927 shows this and a space under the name of Bede Scarborough. At a later unrecorded date Leo Craven’s name was added there, out of alphabetical order. Henry Woods’s name was never put on, but on this present list he is recorded as number fifty five, alphabetically, that is.
In researching the names on the War Memorial I have obviously used the names on it as the primary source [WM], though this did cause a few problems. I have also consulted a number of other sources including:
The Preston Roll of Honour [PRH]
The Preston Catholic College Magazine, 1916 - 1921, 1926 and 1927 then called “Sons of the Eagle”, named by former pupil Hubert Baines (see below) [PCCM]
Preston Cemetery records with the assistance of Mrs D Cunningham [PC]
Electoral Rolls and Commercial Directories 1913 - 19.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission records [CWGC]
The Preston War Memorial Fund List 1924 [PWMF]
The list compiled by Major A T Maher (ret) in 1998 of Preston men in Lancashire regiments who joined up at Preston and who are not included on the Preston Roll of Honour in the Harris Museum [QLR]
The Preston Roll of Honour record, filed in the Harris Reference Library, is made up of detailed returns, completed by the next of kin, in 1925. These were the main source for the names for the Roll of Honour memorial tablets containing the names of Preston’s war dead in the entrance hall of the Harris Museum [H], completed in 1927. Some of the Catholic College War Dead are included on the Roll of Honour, but only those who lived in Preston. Those who had lived in Penwortham, for instance, were not included. Many addresses, places causes of death and other details or comments come from these Roll of Honour returns.
In February 1924, collections started to raise money for the construction of the War Memorial, or Cenotaph, which stands on the northern end of the flag market. Designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, it depicts the figure of Sorrowing Victory to represent the town’s grief. Collectors were appointed for each of the town’s wards and each contributor had his or her name registered in a record book. If I did not have an address from other records attached to a soldier, this book was not useful. Another complication was that some widows may have remarried or moved house, as did many soldiers’ parents and relations. Therefore, interesting as it was, this source was only partly helpful in giving extra detail.
My main source of information, after the War Memorial and the College Magazines, was the Commonwealth War Graves Commission for details of burials, memorials and their locations. Extra information or variations are acknowledged by the appropriate abbreviation, e.g. [PRH]. The list is in alphabetical order as it is on the Memorial, which emphasises family relationships allows the names to be more easily located.
I also consulted The Lancashire Daily Post [as it was known at the time] [LDP] and The Preston Guardian [PG], which was a weekly newspaper. The latter was the more helpful as it increasingly consigned part of one of its pages to news of local men on active service, often accompanied by a photograph. The former became less useful in this area as the War years rolled on.
I have included all details gleaned from the above sources and have only shown sources where there seemed to be a conflict of detail.
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