“It is a splendid piece of architecture, and gives a decided added charm to this by no means un-picturesque village.”

So read the Advertiser 101 years ago, as Over Wallop’s memorial was dedicated in an “interesting and memorable service.” At the time, it was noted how the monument was surrounded by pillars that “stood like sentinels,” reading the names of those from the village who served and came home.

However, while the memorial itself has been repaired over the time, the names of those on the pillars have been weathered away by the elements. This led to a group of retired officers forming the ‘They Also Served’ committee, to raise funds to restore the memorial.

Having raised £9,251 from villagers and more from grants from business and local government, the memorial was rededicated in a service today, October 17, with the Advertiser present once again to report on the service, which tried to emulate the original as closely as possible.

One thing the original ceremony did not need to account for were Covid restrictions, with the 30 invited guests to the ceremony each being given a specific point to stand on to maintain social distancing. Most songs have also had to be removed, with those remaining being said rather than sung.

After an introduction by Kate Dixon, Chair of Over Wallop Parish Council, and Ben Cartwright, who began the ‘They Also Served’ project, the Union Flags draping the memorial were removed to reveal the restored pillars underneath, once again bearing the names of the 77 men from the village who returned from war.

After a reading of Psalm 23, The Reverend Vanessa Cole, vicar of St Peter’s Church, addressed those gathered, saying that those who returned each were “walking through their own shadow of the valley of death,” their experiences in World War One having taken their toll.

After the laying of the wreath and The Last Post, followed by a minute of silence, thanks were paid to everyone who contributed to the project. The National Anthem was then said, before a blessing was given and the ceremony concluded.

Speaking to the Advertiser, Ben Cartwright said: “I’m thankful that it’s over. I’ve had a lot of support, and it wasn’t just me who was responsible for today. I may have had the initial idea, but it took a lot of people to lead us to success.”

He said that he was starting to think of a new project to put his energies into, adding: “I like a challenge.”

Pictures of the original service sheet and Advertiser report can be found in the image gallery.