Ilford war memorial refurbished for Somme centenary

British soldiers negotiating a shell-cratered, winter landscape along the River Somme in late 1916.

British soldiers negotiating a shell-cratered, winter landscape along the River Somme in late 1916. Picture: PA - Credit: PA

A memorial commemorating a shopkeeper who threw himself on a grenade to protect his comrades has been refurbished to mark the centenary of the Battle of the Somme.

Horace Cowlin, who was killed during the Battle of the Somme. Picture: Whitgift School

Horace Cowlin, who was killed during the Battle of the Somme. Picture: Whitgift School - Credit: Archant

Horace Cowlin, of Ilford, was killed on the opening day of the First World War’s bloodiest battle, which began 100 years ago on Friday.

At 2pm on Friday, Redbridge Mayor Cllr Gurdial Bhamra will unveil the restored memorial, in Valentines Park, Cranbrook Road.

Before the war, Horace and his family lived above his jewellery shop, in High Road, next door to the old Premier Electric Cinema.

He served in the London Rifle Brigade, arriving in France in June 1915, and died on the first day of the Somme, sacrificing himself to save his comrades from the bomb blast.


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On December 6, 1917 a wooden shelter and plaque were unveiled in Valentines Park, where they still stand today, near the boating lake.

Redbridge Council leader Cllr Jas Athwal, said: “The Battle of the Somme led to a horrendous loss of life that was felt across the nation and also here in Redbridge.

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“We know at least 150 men from the borough lost their lives in the Somme, with around 1,200 killed during the Great War.

“They, like so many others, stood up and fought for our country when she needed them most and it’s important that we take the time to recognise their sacrifice.”

Prior to the ceremony in Valentines Park, the Royal British Legion will host a service at the Ilford War Memorial, Eastern Avenue, Newbury Park.

In the evening, there will be a commemoration at Gants Hill Library, Cranbrook Road.

A screening of a film from the period about the battle will be followed by an illustrated talk with Nick Dobson, at 7pm.

There will be more coverage of the anniversary on the Ilford Recorder’s website later on today and tomorrow.

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