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At the unveiling of the Ashton-under-Lyne memorial in September 1922, a prayer for the dead was read which referred to ‘this hour of mingled memories’. From this we can infer that the ceremony accompanying the unveiling and the memorial itself, were intended to clarify memory, ordering it in such a way so that the war and the many deaths were given new logic and purpose.

The Reverend W.A. Parry, in the act of dedication, prayed that the memorial ‘may serve to remind us – as we think of the noble deeds and sacrifices of our brothers – of our own duty to Thee our God, to our Country, to our town, and to one another’. The memorial structure echoes and reinforces this hierarchy of thought. The names of the 1,512 dead are listed alphabetically on thirty-eight bronze panels, which the spectator can easily see.

:: Ashton-under-Lyne war memorial                            l

Above these are two huge bronze lions representing the British Empire, one in combat with the serpent of evil, the other having triumphantly crushed it. The central column is surmounted by a bronze group which depicts a wounded soldier holding a spray of laurel, passing a sword of justice to a standing female figure representing Peace.

The dead thus literally uphold and support the values of Empire, service and honour and it is through them that the these values are to be understood. At the end of the ceremony, according to the programme ‘the relatives of those whose Names are inscribed on the Tablets will view the Memorial – Children first’.

The young, whose memories would be most easily impressed and whose loss was possibly the most inexplicable, were to be the main object of the memorial.