National Recording Project

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Detail from: Memorial to 158 Squadron by Peter W. Naylor, 2009

Anti-Abyssinian War Memorial

Summary

Type Sculpture

     Stone bomb mounted on a plinth. Ironic sculptural depiction of a bomb, prompted as a reaction to Mussolini's air attack on Ethiopia, 2 October 1932, and in response to those who at the League of Nations had defended aerial bombing as a legitimate action in warfare.
     Described at its unveiling as a 'monument of irony', the work of a young Essex sculptor, Eric Benfield. 'He had provided the memorial stone to those who, at the League of Nations, insisted on the retention of the bombing plane. It had been proposed that the bombing plane should be abolished and outlawed ... War from the air was far more swift and deadly than anything else. It annihilated distances ... The bombing plane brought war home to the children, it was not confined to the trenches ... Those who had preserved bombing were politically and morally dead, and this was their gravestone". ... ... Mr James Ranger, the prospective Socialist candidate for the Epping division paid his tribute to the young sculptor who had evolved that memorial. "It is a memorial to those who have reserved to us the right to bomb others and who have therefore reserved to us the right to be bombed by others". That was the warning of the memorial'. (Newspaper reporting of speeches of Sylvia Pankhurst, James Ranger, et al.)(1) The monument 'was defaced several times by local fascists'.(2) The monument was unveiled a second time as a protest against the use of gas by Mussolini.(3) Set up in grounds of Sylvia Pankhurst's house(?)(3)
     Escalation in warfare caused by Mussolini's attack on Ethiopia, October 2 1932, and as a protest against the defence, by British politicians, of the use of bombing planes which Sylvia Pankhurst condemned.

Inscriptions

East face: TO THOSE WHO IN 1932 / UPHELD THE RIGHT TO / USE BOMBING AEROPLANES South face: THIS MONUMENT/ IS RAISED AS A / PROTEST AGAINST / WAR IN THE AIR. West face: THE SITE OF THIS MONUMENT IS / THE PROPERTY OF / SYLVIA PANKHURST / DESIGN AND WORK BY / ERIC BENFIELD. North face: ORIGINALLY / UNVEILED BY / R. ZAPHIRO / SECRETARY OF THE / IMPERIAL ETHIOPIAN / LEGATION LONDON / SUPPORTED BY / JAMES RANGER / E.J.A. WEBSTER / J. DAVEY. / SYLVIA PANKHURST / OCTOBER 20TH 1935.

Contributor details

Contributor Role
Benfield, Eric Sculptor
Benfield, Eric Designer

Element details

Part of work Material Dimensions
Bomb Stone 47cm high
Original plinth Stone 52cm high
Base Stone 121cm high x 61cm wide x 61cm deep

PMSA recording information

Reference Region
RB004 UEL
General condition Good
Surface condition
  • Corrosion, Deterioration
  • Biological growth
  • Surface spalling, crumbling
Structural condition
  • Cracks, splits, breaks, holes
Vandalism
Road 587 High Road
Precise location Beneath trees outside 587 High Road
A-Z ref 45 Jc 21
OS ref TQ403928
Date of design 1932-35
Year of unveiling 1935
Unveiling details 20 October 1935
Commissioned by Sylvia Pankhurst
Duty of care Property of Pankhurst family, currently Richard Pankhurst, Sylvia Pankhurst's son
Listing status II
At risk? No known risk

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