The Story of the Tertre Memorial  


It was the vision of a member of The Queen’s Own Royal West Kent Regiment Living History Group, Mr Nigel Bristow, to erect a memorial to the Regiment in 2013 in good time for the Centenary Commemorations of the beginning of the Great War in 2014.


The most appropriate location for the memorial was identified as the junction of the Rue Defuisseaux and the Rue des Herbieres in village of Tertre in Belgium - the scene of the Royal West Kent Regiment’s first engagement with the enemy shortly after 8.20am on Sunday 23rd August 1914.  The memorial would commemorate the 6,866 men of all ranks killed in service with the Regiment regardless where they fell from Belgium, France, Italy, India, Egypt, Mesopotamia or Salonika.










The proposed site of the Memorial at the junction of the Rue Defuisseaux and Rue des Herbieres in 2011

In January 2011 the Group approached Cllr Hotson, the then Mayor of Maidstone, who expressed his support for the plan together with the current Mayor of Maidstone Cllr Rodd Nelson-Gracie.  


Members of the Group later met with the Mayor of Tertre (M. Daniel Olivier) who was very keen for the Council and community of St. Ghislain and Tertre to participate in the project and the Council generously offered to purchase and donate the land, secure the necessary planning consents for the erection of the memorial, and fund the building of the foundations and core of the memorial. With the support of the fellow members of the Queen’s Own Royal West Kent Regiment Living History Group Nigel set about the task of raising the estimated £50,000 that would be needed to build the memorial.  


Thanks to the overwhelming generosity of Dignity UK Limited (a leading Funeral Service provider) the two slate plaques that were to adorn the memorial together with all the Kentish Ragstone cladding was provided.




The front plaque of the memorial would bear the following inscription in English and French:

“This memorial is dedicated to the 6,866 men of all ranks of The Queen’s Own Royal West Kent Regiment who gave their lives for the cause of freedom during the Great War of 1914-1919 the first of whom fell near this spot on the 23rd August 1914.”

and would end with the Regimental motto - ‘Quo Fas et Gloria Ducunt’ - Where Right and Glory Lead.

The rear plaque would have an engraving of the map drawn by Captain George Lister of the 1st Battalion The Queen's Own Royal West Kent Regiment on the 23rd August 1914 together with his account of the initial action:























“I arrived at the bridge with “A” Company at about 7.50 a.m. The only information I received of the enemy was that a few Uhlans (Cavalry) had been seen the previous day north of the canal. The Divisional Mounted Troops arrived about 8.15 a.m. and we at once crossed the canal. Shortly afterwards there were a few shots fired at us from a north-easterly direction. I saw the enemy’s infantry emerging from Tertre in large numbers. I counted on the east side of the road some 400-500 men. Fire was at once opened upon them and it could be seen that the enemy was suffering considerable loss. After a short time he returned the fire heavily. Since the action I have ascertained that in my immediate front the Germans had three Battalions of the Brandenburg Grenadiers, one Battery of Artillery and one Machine Gun Company. The Officers, N.C.O.’s and men of the Company behaved well under difficult circumstances.”

On hearing about the project the Regimental Association of The Queen’s Own Buffs, The Royal Kent Regiment kindly donated the lion’s share of the cost of a memorial bench inscribed with the Regimental motto to be placed next to the memorial.

With some final fundraising by the Group and a further donation by the organisers of the ‘War & Peace Revival Show’ all the necessary funding was found to enable the project to proceed.

Work began in the summer of 2013 to clear the site and prepare the foundations and core block work needed to support the memorial.  A site visit was made by some members of the Group in July to view the progress of the foundation works.




















Once the ground had been prepared local builders on behalf of the Mayor’s Office completed the foundation and core block work required.





















With the generous sponsorship of Brenley Construction, stone masons were to follow at the beginning of August to begin cladding the memorial and to fix the two slate plaques in place.


Finally at 11am on the 23rd August 2013 the completed memorial was adorned with the flags of The Queen’s Own Royal West Kent Regiment and St. Ghislain & Tertre for the community dedication ceremony which was led by the Deputy Mayor of St. Ghislain & Tertre and Major Peter White M.M. of The Queen’s Own Buffs Regimental Association.



     
















Over 200 local people and well-wishers joined in the ceremony which was reported by national television from the United Kingdom:


http://www.itv.com/news/meridian/story/2013-08-23/tributes-to-great-war-soldiers/


http://www.itv.com/news/2013-08-23/ww1-memorial-to-british-troops-unveiled-in-belgium/


It was the culmination of a life-long dream by a member of The Queen’s Own Royal West Kent Regiment Living History Group who had always wanted to see a memorial built on this spot to honour all the Regiment’s fallen but in particular in personal recognition of his great Uncle Leonard Bristow who served as Private S/8933 in the 1st Battalion of the Queen’s Own and was killed on the 17th December 1914 in the water filled trenches near the village of Wulverghiem close to Ypres in Belgium.  



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