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Swanley war memorial restored to former glory

A memorial has been restored and rededicated as part of a £14,000 project in the centenary year of the First World War.

Swanley war memorial includes the name of Joseph Gedge, who was 36 when he and 150 other men lost their lives on August 6, 1914 – just two days after war was declared.

Their ship, the HMS Amphion, struck mines in the Thames Estuary.

Rededication of the war memorial.
Rededication of the war memorial.

Sevenoaks council restored the memorial and held a rededication ceremony on Sunday which included a parade leaving Swanley town centre.

The memorial features a bronze sculpture designed by LF Roslyn, who designed many war memorials, with a plaque listing Fleet Paymaster Gedge’s name alongside other fallen men. Gedge was the first officer to be killed in the war.

There are 29 British Army regiments represented together with the Royal Navy, the Royal Flying Corps and also the Australian and Canadian Army.

The restoration work, which took three weeks, was done earlier this year with six men helping to bring the memorial back to its former glory.

Veterans Edward Needham,89, and Eric Stratford, 93.
Veterans Edward Needham,89, and Eric Stratford, 93.

It included cleaning the Portland stone and carrying out minor repairs as well as re-coating the bronze statue along with the plaque, which was also corrected as a name was misspelt.

The memorial was unveiled in 1922 at a cost of £970 by Paymaster Gedge’s mother Mary.

She was possibly given this honour due to her losing not only Joseph, but also his two brothers, Peter and Basil, through serving in the war. To honour Gedge’s service to the Royal Navy the Gedge Medal was introduced.

It is still awarded annually to the officer who has passed the examination from the rank of lieutenant at the first attempt and who obtained the highest aggregate of the total marks during the year.

St Mary's Church and the rededication of the war memorial.
St Mary's Church and the rededication of the war memorial.
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