In 1920, Bristol Law Society commissioned and erected a plaque to commemorate the names of those members of the Society who served in and those who fell during the Great War. This plaque now stands proudly in Bristol Law Society’s boardroom in the Law Library.
A packed Law Library including 10 former Law Society Presidents, the Lord Mayor of Bristol, the Lord Lieutenant of Bristol gathered to listen to the stories behind those named on the plaque. Thanks to sponsors Milsted Langdon and Burges Salmon, BLS President Ben Tarrant introduced Dr Charles Booth and Kent Fedorowich from UWE, who are working on the BBC World War One at Home project, and BLS Past President Jack Lyes (1980-1), who between them had traced the stories of Bristol and Bristol Lawyers during World War One.
Jack Lyes painted the picture of the firms in existence in 1914, mainly sole practitioners and small firms, and told the stories of those who volunteered for service and those who stayed behind to manage the legal profession. Sole Practitioners called up to serve left their firms in the hands of colleagues from other firms, a story that brought home to those in the audience the importance of the Law Society in foistering collegiality.
Stories were told of Parry Burges, W. Sefton Clarke, Leonard Dickinson, Reginald Wansborough, Arthur Poole and others, names that resonated with the audience. Those who stayed behind were also talked about, solicitors who raised money for the returning soldiers. The Bristol recruiting song “Bravo Bristol”, written by local solicitor, Frederic Weatherly, was played to the room.
Stories gathered by the UWE team for the World War One at Home project and many contemporary photographs reminded the audience that all other walks of life in Bristol were affected by the conflict.
Thanks to Milsted Langdon and Burges Salmon, BLS has produced a booklet “Bristol Law Society and World War I” which is available from the Law Library.
Money was raised for ABF The Soldiers’ Charity and all BLS members are urged to support this very worthy cause.