The War Memorial unveiled at the British Club in Bangkok

The British Embassy Cenotaph has been successfully moved from the old compound on Ploenchit to the front lawn of the British Club. The unveiling ceremony took place on Thursday 29th August 2019 in the presence of Admiral Anthony Radakin, British Ambassador Brian Davidson and Colonel Roger Lewis, the British Defence Attaché. The war memorial had to be moved due to the sale of the embassy compound to Central Group and its Hong Kong partner. The statue of Queen Victoria was part of the sale and will stay on site, however the ambassador’s residence wasn’t so lucky as it has already been bulldozed. Though, they say they will rebuild it in its original style in the grounds of the future shopping mall.

The only good piece of news is that the embassy and staff were determined to keep the war memorial. Several locations were considered, including Lumpini Park, before settling with the British Club on Silom Road. They have done an excellent job with the relocation and it looks like it has always been there. The first Remembrance Sunday service will take place at the British Club on Sunday 10th November 2019. The event does not only commemorate British, Commonwealth, and allied personnel, but all those who have been affected in all conflicts. According to the British embassy website, the Remembrance Day service “serves as a reminder that nations who fought so bitterly against each other can come together to promote peace and stability in the modern world”. The service is usually open to the public, though you will most likely will have to register in advance. I will post full details about the service for this year and how you can attend as soon as I get some details.

The war memorial used to be situated near the Ploenchit road gate at what was then the compound for the British Legation. In this old photo in the national archives, you can just see the Queen Victoria statue behind it and the ambassador’s residence at the back. Back in 1919, the British community in Bangkok wanted to erect a memorial in honour of the British subjects from Siam who had fallen during the Great War. The cenotaph was unveiled on 10th January 1923. The service was led by the Reverend R.J. Hitchcock. This was the first structure to be built in the new compound. The legation officially moved here in 1925, though most buildings weren’t finished until the following year.

After the sale of the front part of the British Embassy compound, to make way for Central Embassy shopping mall, the war memorial was moved from the front entrance on Ploenchit Road to a spot in front of the ambassador’s residence, and Queen Victoria’s statue was moved to the back. The “front entrance” of the embassy for the public was now on Wireless Road. However, the memorial still faced the same way with the front facing Ploenchit and the back facing the residence where the Remembrance Day service is held. This small mistake has now been corrected at the British Club.

Twenty-five men of British descent living in Siam gave their lives during the Great War of 1914-1918. Their names are listed in alphabetical order clockwise around the four sides of the Cenotaph with “A” being at the front.

  1. Second Lieutenant Laurence Anderson – He was the manager of Devon Estates
  2. Captain Victor George Anderson Bush – He was born in Bangkok in 1893. His father was Admiral Sir John Bush, the Harbour Master in Bangkok
  3. Private Harold Farley Carver – He worked for John Sampson & Son department store in Bangkok
  4. Second Lieutenant Lionel Henry Liptrap Carver – He worked for the Bombay Burmah Trading Corporation in Rangoon
  5. Captain Tom Brodie Chatteris – He came to Bangkok in 1902 to work for the Borneo Company before moving to Chiang Mai in 1907
  6. Captain Robert Thomas Consterdine-Chadwick – He worked as an assistant legal adviser to the Siamese Ministry of Justice
  7. Second Lieutenant Richard Frederick William Darrel – He and his wife lived in Bangkok
  8. Captain William Reginald Dibb – He worked in Siam for the Bombay Burmah Trading Corporation. His descendants still live in Thailand
  9. Captain William George Massy Eager – He moved to Siam in 1913 and worked as an Assistant Conservator of the Forestry Department
  10. Captain Alfred Charles Ernest Elborough – He worked for the Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank in Bangkok
  11. Lieutenant Robert Abercromby Forbes-Sempill – He worked for the Bombay Burmah Trading Corporation. He was also the first Honorary Secretary of the British Club when it was founded in 1903
  12. Lieutenant Ernest Edward Glorney – He worked for the Renang Tin Mining Company
  13. Major Eustace Walter Russell Hadden – He was a law office for the Siamese government
  14. Captain Thomas Clifton Hutchings – He worked for the Siam Forestry Company in Phrae
  15. Second Lieutenant Rechab Vivean Jeavons – He worked for Louis T. Leonowens in Nakhon Lampang
  16. Private Harry Leveridge – His father was a reporter for the Siam Observer in Bangkok
  17. Major Henry Wilfred Persse – He worked for the Siam Forest Company
  18. Lieutenant Robert Reid – He worked for the Straits Trading Company in Siam
  19. Captain Wilfred Frank Richardson – He served in the Burmese Police
  20. Augustus Robinson – No military records or records of him living in Siam have been found
  21. Lieutenant Frederick Douglas Ryan – He worked as an inspector foe the Siam forestry Department
  22. Captain Oliver John Sykes – He worked as financial adviser to the Siamese government
  23. Second Lieutenant Roger Maitland Upton – His father was an assistant at the Bombay Burma Trading Corporation
  24. Captain Cecil Walter – He worked for the Bombay Burma Trading Corporation
  25. Lieutenant Edmund Melville Webb – He worked for the Bombay Burma Trading Corporation

PHOTO ALBUM OF THE UNVEILING CEREMONY IN AUGUST 2019:

Sources: British Embassy and British Club

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