Kohima memorial, Dean’s Park

November 2007

Poppy and wooden cross

In Dean’s Park, by York Minster, are a series of stone archways, obviously a remnant of a medieval building. This remaining wall faces the north side of the Minster, across the park that in summer is full of residents and tourists lounging and eating ice cream.

The red of poppy wreaths draws attention, bright against the worn grey stone. This summer, when I took photographs of the area as I often do, this poppy on a plain wooden cross had been tied to the railings to one side of the stone structure.

The weatherworn stone wall is a remnant of the old Archbishop’s palace which used to stand here. (The Minster Library, close by, once its chapel, is the only other remaining part of the palace.) Twenty years ago the wall was restored as a memorial to the army’s Second Division.

Memorial plaque: Dunkirk 1940, Imphal 1944Poppy wreath: In memory of our Fallen Comrades. The Kohima Veterans

View of Dean's Park memorial

I don’t know whose idea it was to turn this into a memorial, or who designed it, but it is beautifully done. There are seven arches, and in the central one a bronze laurel wreath frames the Kohima epitaph: "When you go home, tell them of us and say, for your tomorrow, we gave our today".

It doesn’t list names, but instead includes in the recesses plaques naming the conflicts the 2nd division fought in. Mons 1914, Marne 1914, Somme 1916, Ypres 1917, Cambrai 1918, and so on, including 19th century conflicts, and the later battles of World War Two.

When I took photographs here in the summer, the poppy wreaths were mud-spattered from the early summer rain. The dedications reminded those of us born after these conflicts that fallen comrades are still commemorated here by the Kohima Veterans, who since the battle have met annually in York.

Links and further information

The Kohima Educational Trust

The 2nd division in the Great War – from www.1914-1918.net

The memoirs of Major General David Horsfield, Royal Signals includes a description of The Kohima Weekends 1957-2000 – the final paragraph on this page gives an account of the annual wreath laying at the memorial.

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