The Channel Islands and the Great War
of Guernsey War Memorial
Guernsey decided to erect a War Memorial whilst Jersey chose
a Cenotaph to commemorate those who had fallen in the Great
It was unveiled on Sunday 19th September 1926 by Guernsey's
Lieutenant Governor, Major-General The Honourable Sir Charles
Sackville-West, K.B.E., C.B., C.M.G., with the Bailiff, Sir
Havilland de Saumarez presiding.
The memorial has a fascinating history.
Some Early Proposals
Smith Street Plantation Site
A Possible Design
Guernsey Weekly Press, 1920
After a long delay a definitive and satisfactory
idea for an Island War Memorial has arrived, and we have
before us as we write a very clever sketch and outline
plan drawn by Mr J G West, O.B.E., of London, for the
erection of a massive obelisk at the Belvedere at the
Cotils, on the site of the recent landslide.
There has been inevitable delay in bringing
any formulative plan into being, for, of course, there
were so many opinions on the question of a site and of
the form of the Memorial. All the parishes have been in
council on the matter and various schemes have been mentioned.
It was with a mandate from this island-wide
representation that a Sub-Committee was elected to bring
into shape a scheme which would be considered to meet
with the widest public approval. This Sub-Committee was
composed of Messrs. H. G. Le Cheminant, A. A. Veal, P.
V Dorey, G. F. Peek and E. W. Hutton. These gentlemen
at once set to work to get a very competent authority
in the Art World as their adviser, and wrote asking for
this assistance to the Board of Works, London.
As a result of these negotiations Mr.
J. G. West, O.B.E., who took such a prominent part in
the erection of the great Cenotaph in Whitehall, visited
Guernsey a fortnight ago, and after conferring with the
sub-committee at length, submitted plans and reasons for
the selection of the Cotils site.
|There were three selected sites.
The Emplacement by the Market Halls where, obviously, three
pedastals cry for some Memorial, the plantation at the top
of Smith-street, and the neighbourhood of St. Julian's Weighbridge.
The Cotils had been suggested and turned down. For various
reasons distant visibility and situation near populous districts,
this site is considered by Mr. West as unsurpassable for the
proposed Island Memorial and he has submitted a series of
elevations, a plan, and a charming perspective sketch of the
obelisk at the Cotils. It is proposed to carry it out in the
lightest tint of grey Guernsey granite. Some indication of
the size may be gathered at the site at the Cotils, for Mr.
Guilbert, the States Surveyor, has placed a 50 ft flagstaff
there, which will give the height the obelisk would obtain,
and, of course, the points of vantage from which it would
The proposed Memorial, it pleasing to learn, will have
the actual consideration of no less an eminent authority
than Sir Edward Lutyens, for a letter from that gentleman
states that he is gratified to learn Mr. West has been consulted,
and that he will be pleased to give him all the advice and
co-operation he can. The cost is estimated at £3,000.
A lot must have happened between 1920
and 1921 as the Cotils plan was abandoned in favour of the
final design and site as shown below.
From the Guernsey Press, January 1921.
"Our War Memorial"
The Local War Memorial Committee met again on Thursday
under the presidency of Sir Edward C. Ozanne, K.B.E. Designs
for war memorials, of other than the Cenotaph type, have
been collected and examined. The decision of the meeting
finally arrived at was to erect a cross of Guernsey granite
in the plantation at the top of Smith St. It is proposed
to erect the cross on an octagonal base; the faces of
the octagon to bear bronze plates inscribed with the names
of those of Guernsey birth who fell in the Great War.
An estimate of the approximate cost is being invited
from the designers. It is felt that by executing the Memorial
in our splendid local stone an imperishable monument will
be obtained which will be the work of local stone dressers.
As soon as the estimate is received, the recommended
design will be reproduced in the local press and a public
meeting held to ratify the selection.
Final Design & Location
St George was sculpted by Alfred Dury R.A. and the bronze
founders were Messrs
J W Singer & Co. of Frome in Somerset. The company
is still in business, albeit with a new owner.
They are remembered at the Frome
The final choice of memorial was designed
by Gervase F Peek and constructed by John H Le Page of Westbrook,
Unveiling Ceremony in 1926
A coloured view. Pre-1950
In the background is St. Paul's Church - demolished in
the early 1970s
Press, Saturday 25th September 1926 - Report on unveiling
Ceremony order of proceedings
List of names
1926 names appeal
With thanks to the Guernsey Press and Priaulx
Library & Guernsey Museums
Roger Frisby 2007