July 25 2014 Latest news:
West suffolk senior reporter
Thursday, June 19, 2014
A £50,000 project is under way to bring a cenotaph and regimental chapel together in a large parish church to create a “significant” place to remember fallen soldiers.
The cenotaph has been in St Mary’s in Bury St Edmunds since 1920, but it is separate to the regimental chapel of the Suffolk Regiment which was installed in 1935.
Vicar of St Mary’s and St Peter’s, the Rev Malcolm Rogers, said work had just begun to move the cenotaph to beside the regimental chapel to create a “significant place” for the memorials.
“We are moving the cenotaph and putting all the memorials and colours together. It works far, far better.
“At the moment we have got names of soldiers who died in the First World War in the chapel and the cenotaph right at the other end of the church. So we are moving the cenotaph, the memorial around the cenotaph and colours to the new location, in fact a more prominent location besides the regimental chapel.”
Mr Rogers said it was a member of the Royal Anglian Regiment, the successor of the Suffolk Regiment, who had suggested putting the memorials and cenotaph together.
He said the plan was for the works to be completed in time for a “key date” in August when there will be a special service at the church with the Rt Rev Dr David Thomson, acting Bishop of the Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich.
“August 23 is the centenary of the first fatality of the Suffolk Regiment in the First World War, a man called Pte William Flack,” Mr Rogers said. “What also makes that date very significant is it’s the date the regiment suffered, 93 years later, their worst fatalities in Afghanistan.”
Regimental secretary Robert Goodin, of the Royal Anglian Regiment, said three local men, Ptes Robert Graham Foster, Aaron James McClure and John Thrumble, all from the regiment, died in Afghanistan on August 23, 2007.
Mr Rogers said the service at 11am would also commemorate the 6,873 Suffolk Regiment soldiers who died in the Great War and the cenotaph would also be rededicated in its new location.
“I’m really quite proud of what we are doing here. I think it will do the soldiers and people proud,” Mr Rogers added.
Mr Rogers said various permissions were needed for the project to move the cenotaph, including from English Heritage.
He said there were also plans to install a kitchen at the church, which might end up being where the cenotaph is currently.
He added he was sorry some of the family members of the fallen soldiers may not have been aware the cenotaph was being moved.