Until now there was no single memorial anywhere on the Western Front that commemorated the men of The Queen’s Own Royal West Kent Regiment who fought in the Great War. The most appropriate location for such a memorial was identified as in the village of Tertre in Belgium which was the scene of the Regiment’s first engagement with the enemy shortly after 8.20am on Sunday 23rd August 1914.
It was Nigel Bristow, Chairman of The Queen’s Own Royal West Kent Regiment Living History Group who had the vision to build the memorial at this spot and in January 2011 members of the Living History Group approached Councillor Hotson, the then Mayor of Maidstone, who expressed his support for the plan and the current Mayor of Maidstone Councillor Rodd Nelson-Gracie also supported it. Members of the Living History Group subsequently met with the Mayor of St Ghislain & Tertre (M. Daniel Olivier) who was very keen to progress this and his office secured the necessary planning consents for the erection of the memorial and purchased the land required.
Thanks to the overwhelming generosity of Dignity UK Limited (a leading Funeral Service provider) the necessary funding to build and erect the memorial was secured through their sponsorship of the memorial and the Regimental Association sponsored the lion’s share of funding for a memorial bench which was to be sited next to it.
The memorial is an obelisk made from reclaimed Kentish Rag Stone set on two plinths. Two grey slate plaques are mounted on it.
The rear plaque has 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.”
The memorial stands just over 2 metres and the Community unveiling took place on August 23rd this year. An international Centenary Commemoration event will take place on 23rd August 2014 which will be supported by members of the Regimental Association.
The members of the Regimental Association congratulate the Chairman and members of The Queen’s Own Royal West Kent Regiment Living History Group for their dedication to this important project.
Our sincere thanks also to Mr. Daniel Oliver, Mayor of St. Ghislain & Tertre, Mr Patrick Demarbaix, Councillor for Heritage, the members of the City Council of Saint Ghislain, and Katrien Clarysse for their formidable support for this project.