'We are proud to have in our cathedral a memorial to the overseas members of the British Commonwealth who fell in the two world wars.
'We are proud to have in our cathedral a memorial to the overseas members of the British Commonwealth who fell in the two world wars. Too long have they remained without any monument in the Mother Country, and, more particularly, in this church which houses so many memorials. But now they have their place with notable men and women who have deserved honour for their courage in battle, or for their service to the welfare of their fellow citizens and of humanity.'
So spoke Dr. W.R., Matthews, Dean of St. Paul's Cathedral, London, on Wednesday, 7th May, when the new High Altar to the memory of those Commonwealth Britons who died in the first and second world wars, was consecrated.
Her Majesty the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh attended the simple, yet magnificent service, and it was Her Majesty who presented a Fair Linen Cloth to Dr. Matthews for the altar.
Dominating the rich colouring and beauty of the occasion was the great gold canopy of the memorial altar, which rises immensely impressively 60 ft. high, supported by spiral columns of English oak---a worthy symbol----with gilded laurel garlands, culmination in a scintillatingly glorious figure of the Rising Christ.
This was not only a consecration of the memorial to the valiant men and women of the British Commonwealth, who selflessly gave their lives for the salvation of the world, but also a moment of thanksgiving for the total restoration of the east end of the Cathedral heavily damaged by bombing a decade and a half ago.
The splendour of the bishops' robes, the singing of jubilant choristers, the golden tonse of the Household Cavalry's trumpets and the triumphant richness of the organs notes were dimmed in the minds of those of the congregation who remembered loved ones, in the prime of life, torn by the scourges of war.
The consecration of the High Altar was gracefully and reverently undertaken by the Bishop of London, Dr. Henry Montgomery-Campbell, a tall, striking man clothed in shimmering, gold vestments. Slowly he moved before the altar, dipping his fingers in Holy Oil and tracing five crosses on the marble facing.
After the Lord's Prayer and the 'Last Post', sounded by the Household Cavalry trumpeters, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Fisher, gave the blessing. When he had finished there was another joyous fanfare and the service ended with the National Anthem.