The Polytechnic and World War One: Commemoration
When the Armistice came on 11 November 1918, the British flag was raised at 309 Regent Street and a thanksgiving service was held in the Great Hall. According to the Polytechnic Magazine “not a seat was vacant, and, indeed, the standing room was also occupied”. A specific memorial service for fallen members of the Rangers (the Poly’s regiment) was also held in July 1919. A war memorial listing the 394 members who fought and died in the war was unveiled in the foyer of 309 Regent Street in 1920. A separate memorial to The Rangers can be found outside their former headquarters on Chenies Street, London. Among the names listed on the University’s memorial are Quintin Hogg’s son Ian, JEK Studd’s son Lionel, and Hogg’s son-in-law Vincent Hoare.
It is not only war memorials that keep the soldiers’ memory alive. The Rowing Club built a memorial rowing tank at the Boat House in Chiswick while Herbert Gayler, a prominent member of the Cycling Club, was remembered by a dedicated Gayler Trophy, awarded each year to the winner of the Polytechnic 12-hour open road race.
The Poly members were also keen to understand what its Boys had been through, and in 1920 it organised its first Battlefield Tour, visiting Ypres, Arras, the Somme and several other key locations along the Western Front. In the Magazine they describe the “fields that were torn apart by shells… being made beautiful and green, and the whole battlefield covered with lovely flowers”.