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Unveiling Of The Perak War Memorial (Cenotaph) In Front Of The Ipoh Railway Station
This is a picture of a ceremony held at the war memorial (Cenotaph) in the front of the Ipoh railway station. The photograph shows a very large parade of troops, British Army Officers, local dignitaries and other respected guests. Ranks of the troops surround the Cenotaph in a large square outside of which crowds of the general public are standing.
The Cenotaph came into being as a memorial for those from Perak who died in World War 1, planned to be erected shortly after the war ended in 1919. However building was delayed and it was only unveiled in 1927 in a ceremony organised by ex-servicemen. We believe the photograph shows that unveiling ceremony on Armistice Day 1927.
A brass plate on the front of the Cenotaph used to read "Sacred to the memory of the men from the State of Perak who fell in the Great War 1914-1918" and after World War 2 a marble slab was added below it carrying the words "And to those who died in the 1939-1945 War". Names of those who died for their country were listed on additional brass plates. Sadly all of these were removed by the local government in 1988 as witnessed by James Devadason, retired lawyer, (ex Maxwell Kenion Cowdy and Jones). When the announcemet was made that the plaques were to be removed it was said that they would be placed in the museum for safe keeping, but it seems this did mot take place.They were replaced by a modern plate which reads "Memorial to the dead of the two world wars. Sacred to the memory of the men from the state of Perak who fell in the Great War. 1914-1918. And those who died in the 1939-45 war."
The consulting engineer for the Ipoh Cenotaph was Thomas Steele. who was also the lead architect in the design of the Cheng Bok Building on Brewster Road (completed in 1931). Later, he also was the consulting engineer for the Kinta Swimming Club, opened in 1936.
If anyone has photographs of these plates, knowledge of their whereabouts or any other information on this subject we shall be very pleased to receive it.
Since the above was written, the Cenotaph has been partially restored/renovated (Friday 13 June 2008). One of the brass plates was located in a Counil store and replaced. There is no sign of the other two. According to Ipoh Remembered (a Blog Reader), the Cenotaph was built by Thomas Steele. Steele was worked for Stark & McNeill, and he also designed the Bok Building (at the corner of Brewster Road and Horley Street).
After a look at he names on the old plaque, Ipoh Remembered added the following thoughts:
"Seeing their names again reminds me that several of their parents and siblings were instrumental in creating the memorial: Meadows Frost in Ipoh, of course, but also Walter Tate in Taiping and others. (And the name of Kenion is not listed, but see below.)
In fact, [both Rowan Shaw and Lloyd Cowdy] volunteered: Shaw in 1915 (99th Cheshire) and Cowdy in 1917 (Royal Garrison Artillery, if I recall correctly). Cowdy survived but, as noted, Shaw did not: he died in 1916 and later his name was recorded on the Cenotaph in Ipoh. (His only brother was also killed in that war, as were so many others. What a bloody, senseless waste it was.)
One of Arthur Kenion's brothers also died in the war: his name is not listed as there was no direct connection to Perak. Another brother, a doctor in Ipoh, also went off to war, and returned.
Michael Thunder's name is listed. His cousin, Willy, was also a doctor in Ipoh and also went off to war, and returned.
Sid Beaumont was in Perak with the Malay States Guides before serving in the war with the Grenadiers. His name isn't listed because he survived the war, but he died one or two years later.
One other thing to recall:
There was an earlier war memorial in Ipoh, a simple tablet inside the still-brand-new Town Hall, but even before the war ended, people had already started talking about building a monument of some sort. At first it was going to be a cenotaph; then a statuary; then an arch; and finally again a cenotaph — which, by the way, was eventually designed by Tom Steele.
All in all, from conception to completion, the project took seven or eight years: which was longer than it had taken to build the Railway Station, the Town Hall, or the Court-house!
Of course, the years of delay did not prevent the annual commemoration, which began during the war on the padang and at St. John's, and then took place at the spot in front of the Railway Station where the cenotaph was eventually built.
By the way, our word cenotaph comes from two Greek words meaning empty and tomb."
To read more about Ipoh Railway Station and Hotel, click here.