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History of Southampton Cenotaph
3:57pm Monday 27th October 2008 in News
Designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens and constructed in Portland stone, the Cenotaph in Watts’ Park (also known as West Park) was paid for entirely through donations made by local businesses and private individuals.
It was unveiled and dedicated on 6th November 1920 and was described in the pamphlet produced for the dedication ceremony as “the Great War Stone of Remembrance, a monolith, an altar in form, identical to those which lie in each of our War Cemeteries throughout the War area, with the words chosen by Mr. Rudyard Kipling – ‘Their name liveth for evermore’ – cut on its west face.
Behind this stone, on a plinth, standing on a platform of steps, rises a great pylon.”
The names of those from the Borough of Southampton who fell in the Great War were initially inscribed onto the north and south recessed faces of the central pylon of the monument.
Although the pamphlet for the dedication ceremony claimed there to be 1,800 names of the men of Southampton who died in the war, there were actually 1,793 and included a number of women who had worked in the Merchant Navy or with the Queen Mary’s Army Auxiliary Corps.
However, in the months following the dedication a number of families came forward asking that their loved ones also be included, but their requests were initially refused.
The mother of Arthur Ernest Hayball, who had died when the Merchant Navy vessel SS Antonio was torpedoed, wrote to the Town Clerk only to be told that it was not possible to add any further names.
Mrs Hayball then contacted Norton Catchpole, Secretary of the Hants Division of the “Comrades of the Great War”, who took up the case and advertised in the ‘Echo’ for more families to come forward.
By 26th April 1921 Catchpole had a list of a further 148 names, which he sent to Alderman S.G. Kimber who headed the War Memorial Committee.
As a result of Catchpole’s letters in the ‘Echo’ he was contacted by P.F. Morant, of the long-established Morant Bros stonemasons on Malmesbury Road, Southampton.
Morant offered to cut the extra names free of charge, on the understanding that it would be done anonymously.
He did not want a “cheap advertisement” and wrote to Catchpole that “I am offering to do this as I am an ex-service man myself and thankful my own name hasn’t to go on there”.
He signed the letter, “P.F. Morant, Late Sapper 26th Field Coy. RE, 1st Division, BEF”.
Despite this offer, when the decision was taken to add the missing names, by then standing at 203, Garret and Haysom were commissioned.
Their invoice for £26-16-0 shows that the work was completed by 15th November 1921.
However, this was not quite the final act and, in February 1922, Garret and Haysom were hired again to add the 1,997th and final name, William Henry Thomas Deem.