Mid Sussex Times - Tuesday 05 June 1934
CUCKFIELD BRANCH OF THE BRITISH LEGION
NEW STANDARD DEDICATED AT THE PARISH CHURCH
CANON WILSON’S TRIBUTE TO THE LATE CHAIRMAN
Of all the ceremonies associated with the British Legion, there is none more spectacular or impressive than the dedication of a branch standard.
Recently the Cuckfield branch came into possession of a standard through the generosity of Major H. H. Blaker, the vice chairman, and on Sunday afternoon it was dedicated at a special service in the Parish Church. As usual on these occasions, invitations to be represented were extended to other branches in Sussex, and no fewer than 17 responded. The parade took place in glorious sunshine on the recreation ground, under Major Blaker. The place of honour was taken by the Sussex county standard, born by Captain S. T. McCabe (organising secretary).
Members of the Sussex Council present were Colonel W. T. C. Rust, D. S. O., T. D., Captain F. J. G. Didden and Captain Weston.
Behind the County colours were upwards of 100 members of the Cuckfield branch, headed by their new standard borne by Mr. E. Bleach, with Mrs F. T. Gibbs and E. Hayter as his supporters.
OTHER BRANCHES REPRESENTED
with their standards were Ardingly, Balcombe, Buxted, Burgess Hill, Bolney, Clayton and Keymer, Crawley and Ifield, Chelwood Gate and Danehill, Handcross and district, Haywards Heath, Horsted Keynes, Hove and district, Horsham, Lindfield and Steyning. The Brighton branch was represented by Mr C. M. Beasley. Altogether the parade mustered 300 men.
A large number of residents gathered in the High Street to watch the passing of the column on its way to the Parish Church, and the scene will live long in the memory of those who witnessed it.
The Haywards Heath Town Prize Band, under the conductorship of Mr W. G. Bosley, led the way playing that familiar March, “Sussex by the Sea”. The blue and gold standards carried at intervals in the column, and the glittering medals on the men's breasts, provided a spectacle the like of which has rarely been seen in the town before. So the veterans passed from the sunshine into ,the subdued light of the ancient church, which was crowded for the uplifting service. This was conducted by the beloved Honorary Chaplain of the Branch Canon C. W. G. Wilson. It opened with the ever popular processional him, “Oh God our help in ages past”.
The Choir were preceded by a cross borne by Cecil Botting and behind the Vicar came the standard to be dedicated. The service followed a form approved by the Legion. After a special exhortation and appropriate prayers the Standard Bearer knelt on the chancel steps and dedicated the colours, which were laid on the altar for the remainder of the Service. The congregation next sang William Blake’s stirring hymn “Jerusalem”.
THE VICAR’S ADDRESS,
based on the words “an ensign of the people” (Isaiah XI verse 10) contained an eloquent tribute to the memory of the late Lieutenant Colonel E. A. Wallinger D. S. O. (Chairman of the branch). “I think, my friends" said Canon Wilson "it is only right and fitting that before I begin to say anything with regard to the great purpose for which we are here today, I should make a reference - and it will be a touching one - to the great loss which we in Cuckfield, and in the whole of the British Legion, have so lately suffered.
The news of the sudden death of Colonel Wallinger came as a great shock to us all and brought with it a sense of a real personal loss. During the years in which he has resided in Cuckfield he had identified himself with many of the institutions and societies in this place. He was not only a generous supporter, but, what was more important, he took a great real interest in all these things. He was, from its very inception in Cuckfield, the chairman of our branch of the British Legion.
We all knew him well and I may say loved him. We feel that the loss we have sustained is one which will be very hard indeed to fill. We think of his kindliness, his good humour and a good sense, his readiness to help and the cheerfulness with which he bore that pain which was the result of his service in the war, a pain which never left him and which was often very severe. It was not many days before he died that I was talking to him about this dedication service.
STANDING UP AND LEANING ON HIS STICKS
in that attitude with which we here in Cuckfield were so familiar, he said with a smile, although there was something rather sad about it: "I'm afraid I shall not be able to march down with the men, but I will meet them at the Church”. It was not many days after that that we stood by his graveside. We paid him the honour, such as we could, which we felt was his due, and with honour there was mingled loving regret. "I will meet them at the church". His body was laid to rest in the grave: his soul the better part passed into the paradise of God, into that dim spirit world of which we know so little, but of which we at times think so much.
The writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews said that as we spend our days here and do our work, we are surrounded by a cloud of witnesses. It is a whimsical fancy that amid that great cloud of witnesses is the one who had so much thought and care for the British Legion, one who though he has passed from our sight, he is not forgetful of those who were his friends here on earth? “I will meet them at the Church”. He has passed from our sight, but surely we shall long remember him.
We shall think of him as a gallant soldier, as a true friend and as a Christian gentleman. So we say "hail and farewell!” Continuing, Canon Wilson said he considered it a great privilege to be able to speak to them that afternoon. That was a unique service in the history of their ancient church. They were met from the dedication and hallowing of the Standard of their Branch of the British Legion, which meant the setting of a seal on the Branch.
He would have them remember what the setting of a seal on a Branch meant and added responsibility to all the members of that Branch. The mere fact that they were united in that great brotherhood of the soldiers of our country meant that a great responsibility rested upon everyone of them. In their prayers that afternoon they had spoken of the
NOBLE IDEALS AND GREAT PURPOSES
of the British Legion. Might they not say that those ideas and purposes were simply Christianity, to be carried out in their everyday lives - Christianity not in theory, but in practice? Surely there was comradeship, and those who had gone through the experience of the Great War knew perhaps better than those who stayed at home what that comradeship meant. That comradeship had been cemented by experience, but there must be between all of them a real comradeship, and if they could realise and recognise the great brotherhood of man, then surely the country would be happier and, in every way, a better place. Then there was sympathy.
They did not want to live lives of sympathetic interest with other people, and surely they need never go far to find someone, not necessarily someone who had been hurt by the war, but so many others, who would be better and happier with just a little bit of sympathy and help, just a kindly word and a kindly thought. They could all do something to make the lives of other people happier and brighter. Then there was remembrance.
They used to hear so much about the great principles for which the war was fought – righteousness, fair play and justice. Surely those were the principles for every man to remember, and it was the duty resting upon every one of them to see that those principles were made living realities in this country. Then there was loyalty to the King and country.
That day was the 69th birthday of King George. They were very happy to have him as Head of their country and of the great Empire. Of him it might be well said that he had never let his people down, a man who had never failed them and who even in the darkest days of the war kept his courage high and set a noble example which helped and encouraged his people.
They owed him devotion and loyalty because he was a man they loved and because he was the head of the great state and Empire upon which the Sun never set. Concluding, the preacher said: "this England of hours – this lovely land in which we live – you fought to keep free from any invader. Fight now a better fight, that our land may be pure and happy, that it may be a land of justice, righteousness and truth – that it may be a country in which we shall be in happiness and peace, a country which will be safe not only for us but also for our children and our children's children. England, the glorious country; let us keep our country ever bright, ever fair, ever beautiful, and ever safe for those we love.”
The hymn “Praise my soul, the King of Heaven”, was heartily sung, being followed by the Benediction. The standards were dipped in salute as a verse of the national anthem was sung to conclude the service. The organist was Mr Eric McLellan, F. R. C. O.
The parade reformed outside the Church, and to lively music by the band, the men marched via Broad Street, London Lane and the High Street to the Queens Hall, where they were entertained to tea by the local Branch. Mrs Avery, Sen, was the caterer and she had the assistance of Mrs C. Avery, Mrs A. Avery, Miss Burster, mrs H. Ede, Miss Ede, Miss F. T. Gibbs, Mrs W. J. Gasson, Miss Renée Gasson. Mrs Humphrey, Mrs Jenner, Miss Nye, Mrs Quickenden, Mrs Robinson, Mrs Roffey and Legion members.
Before the company broke up Major Blacker on behalf of the Cuckfield branch, extended a cordial welcome to the members of visiting branches and thanked them for turning up in such good numbers. He also congratulated the members on their marching, which was worthy of a newly trained men (applause).
In the evening the Haywards Heath Band played a program of music on the recreation ground.