30th October 2016

Introduction to the Church Bell-Ringers Memorial Books

The Great War Memorial Book of Church Bell-Ringers who fell in the Great War 1914-1918 is on display in a bookcase on the way up to the ringing chamber at St Paul’s Cathedral, London. Alan Regin, as Steward of the Rolls of Honour, is responsible for its safe-keeping. It bears the following inscription:


“They whom this book commemorates were numbered among those, who, at the call of King and Country, left all that was dear to them, endured hardness, faced danger, and finally passed out of  the sight of men by the path of duty and self sacrifice, giving up their own lives that others might live in freedom.


“Following the Name of each man will be found that of the Parish or Township in which he gave most of his service as a Church Bell-Ringer previous to joining the Forces, and also that of the Society, Guild, or Association to which he more especially belonged.”

Alan Regin is currently undertaking research to find out more about each of the men listed, which includes finding where each of them is buried and/or commemorated and any other details that can be found along the way. Already, many ringers across the UK and beyond have been helping with this research.

Of the list in the Memorial Book there are 53 individuals about whom it is proving difficult to find further information. Their names are shown in black in the alphabetical list. If anybody could add any detail, however large or small, about any of these individuals, this would be very gratefully received.

Alan Regin would much appreciate it if ringers at all towers would check whether any former members are commemorated on peal boards or special memorials, in minute books or other documents that their tower may hold.

This is even more important when any are NOT included in the list of names on this website because we would like to commemorate all ringers who fell in the Great War, and we will add new names to the book in the future.

If anybody is able to supply any more information Alan would be very happy to receive photographs of any memorials, peals boards or even the men themselves.

He already has a significant collection, including more than 860 photographs of gravestones or memorials of the men, and would be very happy to pass any of these on.

Alan Regin can be contacted as follows:

(email)
Phone: (H)020 8471 7045
39 Maud Road, Plaistow, E13 0JT, UK

History

It seems from the material below that in 1920 the roll consisted of a list of about 950 names. By 1923 this had grown to almost 1,100. The Memorial Book was completed and presented to the Council during the 1924 meeting.

The statement at the 1929 meeting that “this book had been brought up to date” may refer to the addition of names at the ends of some existing pages, which consequently are not in alphabetical sequence. It is believed that these names brought the total number to 1077 as can be seen today in the Book itself and also shown on this website as the Main List.

At the 1995 Council meeting it was agreed that 38 names from the Truro Guild should be added. This resulted in the creation of the Addendum which actually contains 36 names.

The “supplement” mentioned in the minutes of the 2005 meeting presumably refers to the Second Addendum, which contains the names of 20 ringers from Kent.

The inclusion of the two Addenda in the Memorial Book brought the total number of names to 1133.

Work is now under way to correct and update an electronic copy of the Book entitled Great War Casualties. This is a single list in alphabetical order whose contents can also be viewed in sections by Tower within each Society represented, by Cemetery/Memorial, by Regiment or by Rank.

Peter Trotman (November 2007)

Extract from The Central Council of Church Bell Ringers 1891-1991, A Centenary History by W. T. Cook

“The Council naturally wished to honour the memory of ringers who had been killed during the war, so in 1919 a start was made on collecting their names from the Associations.

“When the Council met in Northampton in 1920, the members stood in their places at noon as the names of nearly a thousand ringers were read out to the sound of tolling of bells in the neighbourhood; this took nearly half an hour.

“During the 1921 London meeting, the members went from Church House across to Westminster Abbey, and held a brief service round the tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The President laid on the tomb a wreath with the inscription, ” A token of deep respect from the Church Bell Ringers of England.” A course of Stedman Caters was then rung on handbells.

Letter from CWO Jenkyn inviting associations to forward details of ringers lost in action.

“In 1922 it was suggested that this Roll of Honour of ringers who had fallen in the war be preserved in a more permanent form, and the Librarian, <http://www.east-garston.com/site-content/all-saints-church/bellringers/revd-jenkin/rev-jenkin.htm”>Rev. C.W.O. Jenkyn, who had served as Chaplain to the forces on the Western Front, was empowered to make enquiries as to the cost of this. Jenkyn immediately set about trying to ensure that the list was as complete and accurate as possible, byapplying to Association Secretaries for details. As usual, the response was very varied, but eventually he had collected nearly 1,100 names, and made enquiries as to the best way of preparing a permanent record. The sum of £20 was voted from the Council’s funds to get the work done. The result was a beautifully written and illuminated volume, the work of Albert Cousins, a professional writer from Cambridge; it was said by an art expert from South Kensington to be “the most beautiful example of modern writing and illumination which had ever come into the museum.” The book was placed in the library of St. Paul’s Cathedral for safe keeping.”

Extract from the Minutes of the 1919 Council meeting at Gloucester

“The President then intimated that as the Treaty of Peace was not officially signed, and the roll of honour of fallen ringers was as yet far from complete, it was proposed to defer the reading of it until a later occasion.”

Extract from the Minutes of the 1920 Council meeting at Northampton

“The President then announced that he had received the Roll of Honour of all save three of the affiliated Guilds and Associations, and that he would commence reading the combined roll at noon precisely.”

Later: “The discussion of the foregoing subject was interrupted at noon by the reading of the Roll of Honour, all the members rising in their places. The roll contained about 950 names, the reading of which occupied the President for 25 minutes. Bells in some of the churches were tolled for a short space at the commencement and the President recited brief prayers at the end.”

Extract from the Minutes of the 1921 Council meeting at Lincoln

“It was proposed by the Rev. Canon H. J. Elsee, and seconded by Mr. J. H. Griffin, that the librarian be asked to ascertain the cost of engrossing on parchment, the names of ringers who fell in the war and that he report the same to the Council.- This was carried.”

Extract from the Minutes of the 1923 Council meeting at Salisbury

“The Honorary Librarian then gave a statement in respect to the “Roll of Honour,” with which he had been instructed to proceed. He reported that he had written to the various secretaries, and the names for the
roll now numbered about 1,100. It was for the Council to give him further instructions in the matter. After many suggestions and some discussion, it was resolved, on a motion, proposed by Mr. T. Hervey Beams, and seconded by Alderman J. S. Pritchett, that the wording of the “King’s Scroll” should be adopted as the preface, and that the names should be written in alphabetical order, followed in each case by the name of the tower and association with which the ringer had been specially connected – abbreviated where possible – and that the roll should conclude with the text, “Their name liveth for evermore.” It was not considered essential that more than the title page should be illuminated, but that the writing should be good and of a permanent character.

“It was also agreed that the roll should be bound in the best leather, and the Standing Committee, having already suggested the payment of £20, this sum, together with the whole proposal, was, on the motion of
the President, carried, nem. con., and all details left in the honorary librarian’s hands.”

Extract from the Minutes of the 1924 Council meeting at London

“The honorary librarian then presented the illuminated roll of honour, now completed. The work was by Mr. Cousins, of Cambridge. The cost was £3 15s. above the £20 voted. (This amount was contributed by those
present at the meeting.)

“The President voiced for the Council how deeply they were indebted to the honorary librarian for all he had done in compiling the roll. It was undoubtedly one of the most beautiful modern examples of its kind
of work. The Honorary Librarian then moved that the Memorial Book be placed in the Library at St. Paul’s Cathedral, London (the Dean having kindly consented). This having been seconded by Canon Baker, it was
unanimously agreed that it be deposited for inspection and on permanent loan, and to be produced to the Council upon demand of the officers; with this, a proposition of Mr. W. A. Cave’s, seconded by the Rev. C. E. Matthews, was also agreed, that it be placed on the table at the annual meetings.”

Extract from the Minutes of the 1929 Council meeting at Chelmsford

“ROLL OF HONOUR — The Hon. Secretary stated that this book had been brought up to date (as they would observe)”.

Extract from the Minutes of the 1995 Council meeting at Salisbury

“13. Report of the Steward of the Rolls of Honour:
(RW 21 April 1995, p.424)
Adopted on the proposition of A J Phillips, seconded by A N Stubbs. A
proposal that the names of the 38 members of the Truro Dio. Guild who
fell in the First World War should be added to the Rolls at a cost not
exceeding £100 was agreed.”

Extract from the Minutes of the 2001 Council meeting at Liverpool

“16. Report of the Steward of the Rolls of Honour: (RW 6th April, p.346)

In proposing adoption of the report, Mr A N Stubbs drew attention to the missing names from the First World War Volume. Mr C H Rogers seconded. Mr D C Manger said that the Kent County Association would
like the Steward to add the missing names in the way suggested and it was suggested that he should check the accuracy of the Rolls for other areas. Adoption of the report was then agreed.”

Extract from the Minutes of the 2002 Council meeting at Norwich

“16. (a) Report of the Steward of the Rolls of Honour: (RW 19th April 2002, p397)

In proposing adoption of the report, Andrew Stubbs confirmed that he had checked the lists provided by the Kent County Association and the Winchester & Portsmouth Diocesan Guild and found that 21 names are not
included in the First World War Roll. No other Societies had provided information. Chris Rogers seconded.
Several speakers spoke in favour of keeping the records open; Frank Blagrove referred to 4 names found at Staines, who had not been members of the Middlesex Association; this prompted Robin Grant to ask
if any ringer could be included, whether or not they had been a member of an affiliated society.

Responding, Andrew said there were two books, one each for the World Wars; if the fallen of other Wars were to be included, another book would be necessary. The books currently hold information on members of
affiliated societies. No details are on the website, but the details could be placed there without difficulty.
After the meeting had agreed that the records should be kept open, the adoption of the report was agreed.”

Extract from the Minutes of the 2003 Council meeting at Llandudno

“13. Report of the Steward of the Rolls of Honour (RW 18th April 2003, p367)

In proposing the adoption of the report, Andrew Stubbs updated members on the supplement: quotations were being obtained for writing on high quality paper or vellum; 27 names had already been received for
inclusion with plenty of room for more. Clarke Walters seconded. Peter Wilkinson asked how to ascertain the names already entered from your own Guild’s area; Andrew responded: by examining the books in situ or by looking at the copy held in the CCCBR Library. Adoption of the report was then agreed.”

Extract from the Minutes of the 2004 Council meeting at Colchester

“13. Report of the Steward of the Rolls of Honour(RW 2nd April 2004, p331)

In proposing the adoption of the report, Andrew Stubbs noted that work on the supplement was not yet complete but should be ready soon; he would bring it to the 2005 meeting. Andrew Wilby seconded.
Julia Lysaght asked if it would be possible to include those who had fallen in other conflicts, such as Northern Ireland and Iraq. Andrew Stubbs replied that the two volumes were specifically in respect of the two World Wars; after Julia had proposed that there should be a new volume to cover other conflicts, Tony Smith pointed out that this would require an amendment to Decision (C) and therefore a proposal would have to be brought to a future meeting of the Council. Adoption of the report was then agreed.”

Extract from the Minutes of the 2005 Council meeting at Harrogate

“17. (a) Report of the Steward of the Rolls of Honour (RW 15th April 2005, p350)

In proposing adoption of the report, Andrew Stubbs was pleased to report that the work on the supplement was now complete and available for inspection that day, prior to its return to St Paul’s Cathedral. As mentioned earlier in the meeting any decision on a further volume would be deferred until next year. Michael Church seconded and adoption of the report was agreed.

Extract from the Minutes of the 2006 Council meeting at Leicester

“13. Report of the Steward of the Rolls of Honour (RW 7th April 2006, p325)

In proposing adoption of the report, Andrew Stubbs noted that after the Harrogate meeting he was asked to add names to the World War I volume: if there were any others to be added, would members please notify him as soon as possible. Andrew drew attention to there being only one copy of the Rolls of very poor quality: he suggested that more copies could be microfilmed if there was sufficient interest. Laith Reynolds seconded.

Several members pointed out that the Rolls could be scanned electronically. Russ McAnulla asked how many names were held on the Rolls. Peter Trotman offered to place the Rolls on the website. Responding, Andrew estimated that there were some few hundred names on the Rolls; he would take up the suggestions for securing copies if the meeting agreed – a straw poll showed there was substantial support. Adoption of the report was then agreed.”

Extract from the Minutes of the 2007 Council meeting at Cheltenham

“13. Report of the Steward of the Rolls of Honour (RW 27th April 2007, p443)

In proposing adoption of the report, Andrew Stubbs noted that 30 more names were to be added to the World War I volume, thanks to research by Alan Regin; an electronic version of this Volume was now available and would be copied to the Council’s website. The World War II volume would be scanned shortly. George Doughty seconded and adoption of the report was agreed.”

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