War Memorial at the Cross

Aberdeen Press and Journal Monday, April 30, 1923
Unveiled by Dr. Lewis

In presence of a large congregation the tablet erected on the East Gallery-first Queen’s Cross U.F. Church, Aberdeen, in memory of the 17 men belonging to congregation who lost their lives in the war, was unveiled and dedicated at the forenoon service yesterday by the Rev. Dr. Martin Lewis, Banchory, the senior minister of the church. The tablet was designed by Dr. William Kelly.

The service was conducted by the Rev. R.T. Cameron, M.A, Stirling. In the course of his sermon Mr Cameron said that nothing stirred the men at the front to new endeavour like the expression of hope that as a result of all the hardship and suffering the nightmare of war would never again torture mankind. Did that hope, which so many of these men cherish, mean anything to them today, or had it died? Had they forgotten so soon the things for which their sons and brothers had given their lives? The cause was still the same, it it was in their hands now, and those who had done their part, and surrounded them as a great cloud of witnesses, were looking to see what kind of a world they were making on a foundation made by their sacrifice. He pleaded with the living in the name of the dead that nothing but sacrifice could answer their sacrifice, and that all mean and selfish ambition should go down before the memory of what their heroes had done. He called on them to consecrate themselves afresh to the service of the great Captain of Salvation.

The Roll of Honour

The congregation stood while Dr. Lewis unveiled the tablet and read the following names of the fallen which are inscribed on it:
Alexander Bonar Arthur
James Knox Barnet
Francis Corbett
James Webster Donald
Alexander Lundie Hunter Ferguson
David Beatt Gray
William Gray
William Halley
John Maclennan
Ian D.F. Maclennan
Alexander Kirkland Robb
George Douglas Rose
Colin Mackenzie Selbie
David Stewart
John Ogilvie Taylor
Walter Taylor
James William Wilson

After unveiling the memorial, Dr Lewis said that the wish to be remembered after one had passed away from earth was a pathetic and widespread human desire. The erection of memorials to keep alive sacred memories was a universal instinct. All lands and ages were full of memorials from the rude cairns and mounds of primitive man through all the vast changes of the millennia to the crosses in Flanders and the stately monuments of Westminster Abbey. Our own land, from Cornwall to Caithness, was crowded with thousands of War memorials. In some moods one was ready to ask what was the purpose of this endless multiplication and repetition, it they ought to think that our people felt they could never do enough to express their love and sorrow and their gratitude to God and the heroic dead from their marvellous deliverance from ruin and bondage.

The Memorial’s meaning

Their own memorial had been fashioned with the endeavour to create something simple, beautiful and restful. It’s whole meaning was rich with meaning and suggestion. It was surrounded by a projecting pierced bower of vine leaves and grapes. The vine was the tree which the husband-man cut and pruned almost to destruction, and yet out of its seeming death the purged branches bore costly fruit. In the centre was a cross, the emblem of the supreme sacrifice. The cross was an Aberdeen cross based on a very ancient and unique cross found at Dyce- the same that appeared on the front of the “Queen’s Cross Record”. The cross was set against a blue background, representing the blue encircling Heavens, the Infinite azure of Divine love. Between the carved and gilded names of the gallant men were sprays of wild flowers, leaves and berries of their native land that the loved and served so well. The material was of English oak. Wood was less common in memorials than stone or metal and had its own significance.
The roll of names continued men of many ages, and of many ranks, but they were all animated by the same spirit of duty, courage and sacrifice. Parents grieved over dear sons cut off in the bright springtime of their life might find comfort in the thought that they enjoyed the sunny May and June, and escaped dull November and dreary December. If their lives were brief, they overflowed with the goodness of hope and youth. Along with the heroic dead they honoured all who fought for them and their country. They hazarded their lives when they went forth unflinchingly to face danger and death. They prayed that they might all show now in peace the same spirit, and that they might do their utmost by unselfish service and devout and faithful living to make themselves and their country more worthy of the precious blood shed in her defence. Dr Lewis then offered the dedicatory prayer.

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