St. Mary’s church in Byfleet is a must-visit place if you have an interest, as I presume we all do, in the Great War…
…as it contains what is surely one of the finest collections of battlefield wooden crosses anywhere in the U.K.
Amazingly, you will find practically all the names on the crosses inscribed here on the Roll of Honour. How so many crosses of local men were acquired is quite beyond me. Anyone know?
Note the Graves Registration Unit tag on the October 1915 cross above; in time the G.R.U. became the Imperial War Graves Commission (see October 1917 cross below), and now, of course, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.
There are a number of other posts about Byfleet elsewhere on this site – use the Search box – but for a follow-up to this one, click here.
I am researching the memorials on this page, and am wondering whether you would mind contacting me on my e-mail address please?
You were querying how the wooden crosses in St Mary’s Church Byfleet, came to be there. The idea was apparently thought up and financed by the local benefactor, Frederick Cornelius Stoop, of West Hall, in gratitude for the safe return his two sons (both England Rugby internationals) from the war
I was indeed Jim. Thanks for the info. Glad to see you’ve signed up for posts, by the way.
Hi. There’s a bit more information here on how these crosses came back, It was part of a scheme set up by the WGC/IWGC at the end of the war. With requested crosses collected or returned by the lorry load at one point. Some very much became proto-memorials in local churches before the stone memorials we now see were built. The practice continued for several years after the end of the conflict with The British Legion, Toc H and various church charities getting involved in distributing and placing them. It is believed that more than ten thousand were returned, they exist in over 450 (and counting locations) and probably near a thousand still exist. Curiously, or perhaps not, we still don’t have a full survey for Byfleet, large collections take quite a lot of work to catalogue! Byfleet is as far as I’m aware the largest collection in a British Parish church, with Cavendish in Suffolk coming second. Cheltenham and Bradfield College also have large collections. More info here on the project in general. http://thereturned.co.uk/the-grave-markers/
Returned from the Front.
We have full details of those commemorated by the wooden crosses in St Mary’s Church, Byfleet, including some who were not directly connected with the parish. There is information in my book, ‘Byfleet and the Great War’ (Second edition), including some photographs, and there are also details in the church guide book.
Hello Nick. Thank you very much for that, particularly the bit about the lorries. Seriously. And whilst looking for something entirely different since your comment, I came across a postcard of a cemetery with crosses stacked awaiting collection which will appear in a post very soon. With regard to Byfleet, which I have revisited since to take further photos – any I missed first time round etc – Jim is your man (above), but if I can be of any help just shout.