Rolls of Honour of the First World War

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Rolls of Honour of the First World War

In 1921 the Royal Engineers proposed the creation of the Rolls of Honour to commemorate the fallen of the First World War from the Corps of the Royal Engineers and the engineering regiments of India, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. St Paul’s Cathedral was chosen to house the rolls as Horatio, Herbert, Lord Kitchener, who had been the Colonel in Chief of the Royal Engineers was to be commemorated in a memorial chapel at the foot of the north west tower of the cathedral. The chapel, dedicated in 1925, was thus considered to be the ideal location for the Rolls of Honour.

From the late eighteenth century St Paul’s Cathedral became the national pantheon to commemorate the fallen of the British military services from the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars onward. The monuments were financed by the British government and by public subscription. This tradition has continued into the modern era with memorials including the British Commanders of the Second World War in the Wellington Chamber and the Falklands war memorial.

The Kitchener Chapel

On June 15 1916 the Lord Kitchener National Memorial Fund was set up. In 4 years over £500,000 was raised (about 12 million pounds in modern terms). The money raised was used to give relief and support to those wounded during the war. In addition it funded two memorials to Lord Kitchener, the first in St Paul’s Cathedral in the chapel of All Souls, the other the Kitchener Memorial Medical School at the University of Khartoum.

The memorial in St Paul’s Cathedral was inaugurated on 10 December 1925 by the Dean of St Paul’s. It contains sculptures of the military saints St Michael and St George, a Pietà (the Virgin Mary holding the body of Christ) and a recumbent effigy of Lord Kitchener in white marble all by the Scottish sculptor William Reid Dick. Through the dedication to Lord Kitchener the chapel honours the fallen of the First World War. The chapel also holds the Rolls of Honour of the Royal Engineers and the Engineering regiments of India, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

Biography of Field Marshal Horatio Herbert Kitchener

Field Marshal Horatio Herbert Kitchener, Earl Kitchener of Khartoum and Broome 1850-1916 was born near Listowel, county Kerry, Ireland. He was educated at Montreux in Switzerland and the Royal Military Academy in Woolwich. He took a commission in the Royal Engineers in 1871.In 1906 he was appointed The Colonel Commandant of the Royal Engineers.

He became the Secretary of State for War at the beginning of the First World War. He was one of the few people who predicted that the war would last a minimum of three years and that Britain would be involved in a protracted land war and an army of millions would be required to defeat the Germans. His popular reputation remained intact.

A controversial figure, newly released records have led historians to rehabilitate his reputation. He was a hero in his own time due in part to his victories in Sudan against the Mahdi and bringing the Boer War to a successful conclusion. He drowned on 5 June 1916 on HMS Hampshire which struck a German mine west of the Orkney Islands in Scotland.

The Regiments:

The Queen Alexandra's Royal Army Nursing Corps  Roll of Honour

The Queen Alexandra Imperial Military Nursing Service was formed in March 1902 and superseded the Army Nursing Service. It was established by royal warrant and named after Queen Alexandra, wife of King Edward VII .She became its president and served until her death in 1925.In 1949 it became a corps in the British Army and was renamed the Queen Alexandra Royal Army Nursing Corps.

During the First World War the Queen Alexandra Imperial Military Nursing Service (QAIMNS) provided approximately 10,000 regular and reserve personnel who served in various theatres of war in France, Italy, Salonika ,Russia, Egypt, Mesopotamia and East Africa, They attended the wounded in field hospitals, aboard Ambulance trains, hospital ships and hospital barges.

Royal Engineers Roll of Honour

The Engineers Corps was formed on 26th May 1716 when king George 1st of the United Kingdom issued a warrant to separate the engineer and artillery establishments. On 25th April 1787 the ‘Royal ‘status was added to the title to form the current name.

They served in all areas of conflict in the First World War. They built and maintained the trenches and fortifications as well as maintaining the railways, roads, water supply, bridges and transport. Responsible also for communications such as telephones, wireless and signalling equipment, maintenance of guns and weapons and bomb disposal.

1st King George’s Own Sappers and Miners (now part of the Corps of Engineers, India) Roll of Honour

The Corps of Bengal Sappers and Miners was formed at Cawnpore in 1803 as a corps of Bengal pioneers. After various mergers it became the King George’s own Sappers and Miners in 1910.They served in France, Belgium, Mesopotamia, Palestine, Persia (Iran) and the North West Frontier.

2nd Queen Victoria Sappers and Miners (now part of the Corps of Engineers, India) Roll of Honour

Formed in 1911 from the Madras pioneers which had been founded in 1780. They served in France, Belgium, Mesopotamia, Egypt including the Suez canal, Palestine, Persia (Iran) and the North West Frontier.

Faridkot State, Malerkotla State, Tehri Garhwal State, Sappers and Miners, (now part of the Corps of Engineers, India) Roll of Honour

Raised in the Punjab princely states of Faridkot, Malerkotla and Tehri Garhwal. They served in France, Belgium, Mesopotamia, Palestine, Persia (Iran) and the North West Frontier during the First World War and also served in British East Africa 1914-1918.

Sirmur Imperial Service Sappers (now part of the Corps of Engineers, India) Roll of Honour

The regiment was raised in the Punjab princely state of Sirmur in 1889.It is one of the oldest imperial service sapper units raised in the Punjab princely states. They served in Mesopotamia during the First World War.

3rd Royal Bombay Sappers, Miners, and Railway Battalion (now part of the Corps of Engineers, India) Roll of Honour

Formed in 1903 from the Corps of Bombay Sappers and Miners which had been originally raised from a Company of Pioneer Lascars in 1777 (Lascar means labourer). During the First World War they served in Europe, Palestine, Mesopotamia and the North West Frontier, Persia( Iran), East Africa and Aden.

Australian Engineers (Royal Australian Engineers) Roll of Honour

The regiment was founded on 1st July 1902 with the amalgamation of the colonial engineer corps of the different Australian states and territories. During the First World War they served at Gallipoli, Palestine, France and Belgium.

New Zealand Engineers (Corps of Royal New Zealand Engineers) Roll of Honour

The regiment was formally established 15th January 1903 backdated to 15th October 1902 in the New Zealand Gazette. Since then the regiment has served in the New Zealand Expeditionary Force in Samoa and, during the First World War, in the Middle East most notably Gallipoli. 

Canadian Engineers (Corps of Royal Canadian Engineers) Roll of Honour

The Canadian Royal Engineers was founded in 1903. During the First World War they served at the front in Belgium including the battles of Vimy Ridge and Messines and in the Middle East.

Central Council of Church Bellringers Roll of Honour

The Central Council of Church Bellringers is an affiliation of organisations of Church bell ringers in the English style. They commissioned hand written memorial books to commemorate those bell ringers who died during the First and Second world wars. The book was completed and presented in 1924. It is on loan to St Paul’s Cathedral. 

Middlesex Regiment (Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment) Roll of Honour

The Middlesex Regiment was an amalgamation of older county regiments who fought at the at the battles of Blenheim, Quebec and Sevastopol. It was formed in 1881.The regiment was again merged in 1966 to form the Queen’s regiment then merged once more in 1992 with the Royal Hampshire Regiment to form the Princess of Wales Royal Regiment. During the First World War the regiment served in Gallipoli and all theatres of war on the western front including the Somme and Ypres.

Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA) Roll of Honour

The ATA was a civilian organisation formed in the United Kingdom in the Second World War. Its main function was to transport new, repaired or damaged aircraft between assembly points, factories, maintenance units, service squadrons and airfields. During the war 1245 women and men from 25 countries flew over 309 thousand aircraft of 147 types to their destinations. The aircraft included Spitfires, Mosquitoes, Lancasters and Hawker Hurricanes. In all 173 ATA aircrew died in ATA service mainly due to mechanical failure, bad weather and accidents in training. The corps was disbanded in 1946.