Outside the YMCA in Forster Square people had flocked to an open- air celebration and a brass band led the singing of popular hymns. There were services of Thanksgiving in Bradford Cathedral and at Eastbrook Hall the Hallelujah Chorus was sung. The minister warned the next job would be to feed the German people: “the conscience of the world would not let them starve”.
Too old to serve in the army Fabian Ware, a former Bradford school teacher, worked with the Red Cross in France from September 1914. He soon realised the pressing need to mark and record graves and he set up the Graves Registration Committee. In 1915 the task was transferred to the Army but Fabian Ware continued to lead the organisation which in 1917 became the Imperial (later the Commonwealth) War Graves Commission.
Ware’s vision was that every serviceman, irrespective of rank, race or creed, would have his own grave with identical headstone in a setting reminiscent of an English Garden. He obtained formal agreements with overseas governments to ensure the graveyards could be managed by the Commission in perpetuity.
Captain Tempest, writing in his history of the 6th Battalion in 1921, remembered 1915 to 1918 as “a succession of sordid, nerve-racking and perilous experiences . . . human endurance was tried to the uppermost . . .” The memorial window in Bradford Cathedral, designed by Archibald J. Davis of Bromsgrove in 1921, movingly reflects these sentiments. The image above shows an Infantryman lying mortally wounded amidst the desolation of the battlefield. The whole window rewards careful study.
In the early 1920s memorials were unveiled across the Bradford District. The Cenotaph in the centre of Bradford was dedicated on 1 July 1922, the sixth anniversary of the Battle of the Somme in which the Bradford Pals and Territorials had suffered so greatly. The rawness of people’s loss did not diminish. In 1925 the Telegraph and Argus reported poignantly and vividly ‘weeping mothers, their hands clasped in those of fatherless little children, laid flowers in this sacred place in memory of loved husbands; aged couples sorrowfully mounted the steps, their hearts aching with poignant yet proud remembrance of their heroic sons’.