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Thinking Soldier Memorial turns 100

Members of the WI standing beneath the statue of the Thinking Soldier

Situated prominently in the heart of Huntingdon’s Market Square, the Grade II listed Thinking Soldier War memorial stands as a solemn testament to the valour of those who served in the two World Wars and subsequent armed conflicts. Unveiled on Armistice Day in 1923 at 10.30am in Market Hill, this statue serves as a timeless centrepiece to remember the brave men of Huntingdon who made the ultimate sacrifice during the First World War.

Designed by Kathleen, Lady Scott (1878-1947), the widow of Captain Scott of the Antarctic, the memorial holds a unique place in history. Lady Scott, a regular guest at Hinchingbrooke House, the residence of Lord and Lady Sandwich, played a pivotal role in its creation. It was through Lady Sandwich’s involvement with the Huntingdon branch of the Women’s Institute (WI), which had raised funds for the memorial, that Kathleen, Lady Scott was commissioned to design this poignant monument.

To fund the memorial’s base and erection, a Mayor’s fund was established, receiving contributions from the Town Council and the public. After the conclusion of the Second World War, the Mayor of Huntingdon requested the WI to inscribe the names of those who served in the 1939-45 conflict on the memorial. In 1946, a new inscription was unveiled on Armistice Day, and in 2001, the entire statue underwent a renovation, preserving the original inscriptions while adding one at the back to honour those who fought in conflicts since 1945.

The 1923 unveiling of the memorial drew an estimated 3,000 attendees who observed a two–minute silence at 11:00am, followed by the laying of wreaths around the monument. The moving ceremony continued to attract a continuous stream of spectators paying homage for hours after its conclusion.

To mark the centenary of the statue’s original unveiling, Huntingdon Town Council and the Huntingdon & Peterborough Federation of WIs will hold a special re-unveiling ceremony on Saturday, 11th November 2023, prior to the Armistice Day service at 11:00am. We are honoured to welcome the families of Lord Sandwich and Kathleen, Lady Scott, who were part of the original ceremony, to join us for this event.

Should you wish to attend, please assemble on the Market Square no later than 10.40am. Anyone who wishes to lay a wreath will be invited to do so at the appropriate time during the Service.

Source:  Huntingdon Town Council press release 23rd October.