A unique artwork created by a Staffordshire sculptor and funded by JCB is ensuring Uttoxeter’s World War One Fallen are remembered at the going down of the sun and in the morning – literally.
Now the popular Captain has been immortalised in an eight feet high silhouette cast in steel and positioned in such a way in Market Square that when the sun rises in the morning and when it sets in the evening its rays shine through the structure.
Uttoxeter Town Mayor Councillor Alison Trenery said: “The new artwork is stunning and has been deliberately sited so that when the sun rises and sets its rays catch the silhouette, bringing true meaning to the phrase ‘at the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them.’
‘‘Uttoxeter really has embraced the Centenary of the Armistice and the commemorations across the town, in the shops and in the streets are a really fitting tribute to the sacrifice of the World War One generation and have been made possible with the kind support and assistance from Uttoxeter’s Poppy Sellers.’’
The art installation was designed by well-known Stoke-on-Trent sculptor Andy Edwards and created by Staffordshire-based PM Training. Mr Edwards was also instrumental in creating the bronze plaques bearing the names of 45 soldiers missing from Uttoxeter’s war memorial, which were installed earlier this year and paid for by JCB.
Mr Edwards, aged 55, said: “I was very aware of Captain Oswald Bamford’s story and the role he played in the Battle of Loos. Accounts from the time highlight what a popular and well-respected leader he was, stirring fierce loyalty amongst the men under his command.
“It is this story of brave leadership which inspired me to create the artwork for Uttoxeter, not only to honour Captain Bamford but all the soldiers of the town who gave their lives in World War One. I’m delighted that JCB has funded this unique project and grateful for the wonderful support given to it by Uttoxeter Town Council.”
A JCB spokesman said: “We are delighted to help Uttoxeter to mark the Centenary of the Armistice with the installation of this wonderful new artwork. It’s important that we honour the First World War generation and remember the immense sacrifice everyone from that time made.”
Agricultural Engineer Oswald gave up his job at the Uttoxeter family firm Bamfords Ltd to fight alongside dozens of men who worked for him and his family. Two months after he entered the war with the 1st/6th Battalion The North Staffordshire Regiment he was killed aged 38 as he advanced towards German trenches. He left a wife and two young daughters Olga, aged four and Gabrielle, aged three.
Lieutenant Colonel Ratcliff conveyed news of Captain Bamford’s death to his father Samuel by letter, part of which was published in the Uttoxeter Advertiser and Ashbourne Times.
Lieutenant Colonel Ratcliff said: “Oswald was a brave and plucky soldier and did his duty really well. We had to advance against German trenches and were met with a fearful rifle and machine gun fire, which laid low so many of our local boys.”
At the time of his death the Lichfield Mercury newspaper also reported: “He was immensely popular with the employees and his death has cast quite a gloom over the whole works. He was highly esteemed throughout the town and district, and a wide circle of friends will mourn the loss of one whose friendship was sincere and highly valued.”
The Town Council, Uttoxeter Poppy Sellers and Tesco are jointly hosting a ‘Poppy Afternoon Tea’ at the Town Hall on Friday, 9 November and the Uttoxeter Town Brass Band has organised a special Armed Forces Charity Concert to be held at St Mary’s Parish Church on Saturday, 10 November. These events are in addition to the Town’s annual Remembrance Parade and Service on Sunday, 11 November.