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The Great War Roll of Honour

Originally unveiled on 9 April 1920 in the Village School at Burnt Oak, the Roll of Honour records the names of 342 men  from East Bergholt – or with close family connections to it – who served in the Forces during the Great War.

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  • The Village Memorial to all those whose served in the Forces during the Great War
  • 51.970051, 1.012491


It is not known how the names of the men on the Roll of Honour were obtained.  However, it is known that there are some East Bergholt men who served in the Armed Forces during the Great War whose names were not included and also that the Memorial contains a number of errors, relating to both the names and also the units of some of those commemorated on it.

As of 2024, approximately half of the servicemen commemorated on the Memorial have been positively identified along with evidence of a documented link to East Bergholt.  The fact that approximately two-thirds of the British Army’s Service Records for those who served in the Great War were destroyed during the Blitz in 1940, has meant that in many cases the identification has had to rely on other sources which are not as comprehensive. 

Research in this area is still ongoing, but given the surviving source material it seems extremely unlikely that all of the men commemorated will be definitively identified.

Details of the men commemorated on the Memorial – who have been identified – will be included on this site in the coming months and years.

If you are related to any of the men commemorated on the Roll of Honour then it may be that you have either knowledge or objects in your possession that could help to establish a documented link between a serviceman and the village.  Please feel free to get in touch. 

The Unveiling

The following article appeared in the “Suffolk Chronicle and Mercury” on Friday, April 16, 1920:


A large and representative gathering of the inhabitants of East Bergholt took place in the School on Friday evening, the occasion being the unveiling of an imposing mural oak tablet, the gift of Mr. A. Harwood, C.C., of Ackworth House.  The tablet contains four panels on which are the names of about 350 men of East Bergholt who joined the forces during the war.  Sixty-three lost their lives and eighty others were gassed or wounded.  This is an extra-ordinarily large number from a parish of 1,500 inhabitants.  Twenty military honours were gained.  Four received the M.C., four the D.C.M., six the M.M., two the M.S.M., one the French Military Medal, one the C.B.E., and two the O.B.E.  Bergholt people are justly proud of the part taken by the parish in the time of their country’s need.

The Rector, who presided, remarked upon the suitability of having the roll of honour made of British oak, as its qualities so well represent the characteristics of the British fighting men.  He thought the school a most fitting place for the memorial, where the children of present and future generations will have it before their eyes, to remind them of the devotion to duty shown by those who have gone before them.  The Union Jack, which covered the roll of honour, was released by Master Anthony Wood, the youngest son of Mr Ernest R. Wood, three of whose sons gave their lives for their country’s cause.

Sir Collingwood Hughes proposed a vote of thanks to Mr. Harwood for his magnificent gift.  This was seconded by the Rev. Charles Stanley, who remarked upon the large proportion of men the village had lost, and trusted that those who had been maimed or whose health had been broken in the war would not be forgotten. – The vote was carried by acclamation.

In his reply, Mr. Harwood mentioned that the wood for the memorial was given by Mr. C.C. Eley, on whose estate it was grown, so that the names of the Bergholt men are inscribed on Bergholt oak.  He paid a well-deserved compliment to Mr. J.S. Corder, of Ipswich, who voluntarily designed the memorial, and also to the craftsmen of Messrs. Wheeler and Son, of East Bergholt, who so ably executed the work  The Rev. H.B. Bryan, of East Bergholt, did part of the wood carving.”

The later History of the Memorial

In 1957, the Memorial was regarded as being unsafe and was taken down shortly afterwards.  By 1980 was being stored outside, protected only by a plastic sheet.

The rigours of time and exposure to the elements had damaged the Memorial and also much of the lettering had become extremely faded and – in some cases – illegible.  The Parish Council at the time did not believe that the Memorial could be displayed in any of the community buildings, due to its size. 

At that point, Ian Miller from Clapper Farm generously offered to take the Memorial and store it out of the elements in a modern barn on his property.   

In the late 1990’s, interest in the Memorial was revived and after a period of restoration it was re-erected at the west end of St. Mary’s Church where it can be seen to this day.  The Memorial was re-dedicated on Remembrance Sunday – 14th November – 1999 by Chris Jowett (the Pastor of Congregational Church).   

Is this type of Memorial Rare?

Whilst memorials detailing the names of those who served in the Great War, rather than just those who died, are not rare, they are now quite uncommon.  Not all localities or workplaces had a memorial of this type and – over the intervening years – a large number of those which did once exist have now been lost.

In the local area, Ardleigh village still has a similar memorial (the original has been replaced in recent years), however the memorial in Great Bromley to those villagers who served has been lost at some point in the last 50 years. 

The British Xylonite factory at Cattawade also had a memorial plaque containing the names of 386 of its employees who served in the Great War, as well as a separate obelisk on which was erected a another plaque commemorating the 61 who died.  A number of East Bergholt men are commemorated on one or both of these memorials.  Since the closure of the factory in 2007, the plaques have been in the safekeeping of Brantham Parish Council.

Those involved in the Restoration of the Roll of Honour

According to the notes in St. Mary’s Church, those involved in the restoration of the Roll of Honour included:

“Mr. and Mrs. Oliver Eley who kindly donated the Oak.

Earl Webber of The Retreat, whose help and advice in the early stages proved invaluable.

John Rose, of Victoria Bakery, whose skill and craftsmanship in matching the new to the old is evident that the one is indistinguishable from the other.  John was an apprentice Cabinet Maker with Wheelers the Builders, who made the Board.

David Francis of Hadleigh, who carried out the painstaking and tedious task of cleaning and re-polishing with such care and skill.

Roy Jones, also of Hadleigh, who repaired the lettering.

Especial thanks are due to Mr. Ian Miller, formerly of Clapper Farm, who gave the board a home for almost twenty years, until a permanent site could be found….

Notes on the Roll of Honour are based on an earlier compilation by Helen Peartree and Ann Rideout, formerly pupils of East Bergholt High School. 

Proofs were read and corrected by Leigh Fraser of Reed Cottage but:

Any errors or omissions are entirely mine.”

The notes were written by Derek Thornton, around the time of the Re-dedication of the Memorial.  Derek also appears to have been involved in the restoration of the Roll of Honour.

Award Abbreviations listed in the newspaper article about the unveiling of the Memorial:

D.C.M. Distinguished Conduct Medal Awarded for gallantry in the field.  A distinguished award for bravery for NCOs and soldiers of the British Army, second only to the Victoria Cross.
M.C. Military Cross Awarded for an act or acts of exemplary gallantry during active operations against the enemy on land, to captains or officers of lower rank up to warrant officers. (NCOs or other ranks instead received the Military Medal.)
M.M.  Military Medal Awarded to personnel of the British Army and other Commonwealth countries, below commissioned rank, for bravery in battle on land.
M.S.M. Meritorious Service Medal An award for long and meritorious service by warrant officers and non-commissioned officers of the rank of sergeant and above.  This criteria was amended somewhat during the course of the Great War, including – from January 1917 – it could also be awarded for acts of gallantry in the performance of military duty, not necessarily on active service, or in saving or attempting to save the life of an officer or soldier. 
C.B.E. Commander of the Order of the British Empire The highest ranking Order of the British Empire level (excluding a knighthood/damehood), followed by OBE and then MBE.
O.B.E.  Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire The second highest ranking Order of the British Empire level (excluding a knighthood/damehood), behind CBE but ahead of MBE.

(These descriptions are based primarily on information on the London Gazette website)


Copyright © Mark Ashmore, 2024


  • 5
  • The Village Memorial to all those whose served in the Forces during the Great War
  • 51.970051, 1.012491

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