Memorial tablet to vicar's two sons

[Beds & Herts Tuesday Telegraph: September 16th, 1919]

An impressive ceremony took place at St Matthew's Church on Saturday afternoon [September 13th], when the Vicar of Luton, the Rev A. E. Chapman, unveiled a memorial tablet to the memory of the two sons of the late Vicar of St Matthew's, Canon H. Coate, both of whom were killed in action.

There was a large congregation and Canon and Mrs Coate and members of the family were present at the service. The Rev W. E. Lewis conducted the service and appropriate hymns were sung and suitable prayers offered.

At the unveiling of the tablet the Rev Chapman said he could not let the occasion pass without saying a few words on the indebtedness they all felt for Canon Coate and the rest of his family for placing that tablet in St Matthew's Church, Luton. That was the right place for it, rather than in Sharnbrook [where Canon Coate was then Vicar], for their dear brothers whose names were inscribed on that tablet were brought up in the adjoining vicarage and lived in their midst for the whole or greater part of their lives.

They all felt gratified that such a suitable place had been chosen in the old church which Canon Coate had served so faithfully and so long. The present congregation did not need memorial of the precious lives which had been sacrificed, but the dear memories of the two lads had been recorded there and would last throughout the coming generations. They recognised that there would be others to come who did not know them and who would be inspired to follow their examples, just as they had been inspired by the acts of so many who had devotedly given themselves for their King and country. God had called unto himself the brothers who went forth so willingly to fight for them during those memorable five years.

The value of death was great when they had died in such a splendid cause – the cause for which their dear brothers had given up their lives. Those who had died for them had not died in vain, inasmuch as they had given their lives in helping to win the greatest war which had ever been fought. Therefore it was only right they all should remember with real gratitude the men who had given up heir lives. It must never be forgotten that they had not only helped to secure victory, but by doing so had made everyone stronger by the inspiration of their noble example.

They thanked their brothers, of whom they were thinking, that they had died; died for the town and for the home, and it was for all of them to try and remember their splendid examples and self-sacrifice and wonderful devotion, even unto death.

They would remember them as little boys, running about the nursery, the very expression of what one would expect to find emanating from such a home as St Matthew's Vicarage. They must not forget them, and everybody would see that their children and generations as yet unborn would learn of the lives and splendid spirit of heroism of the young boys and men who had gone forth to fight, and to die in order that they might live.

So he trusted that the memorial placed there by the late Vicar of St Matthew's and his wife and family would, for long years to come, had down the wonderful spirit of the devotion of two boys who went forth from St Matthew's Vicarage to do their part and fulfilled their duty to the utmost.

The tablet is in bronze and is place on the left side of the church in the chancel. It bears the following inscription: “In loving memory of William Henry Coate, Capt, 7th Batt, Royal Muster Fusiliers, attached 16th Army Corps Cyclist Batt, eldest son of the Rev Canon H. and Mrs Coate, killed in action near Karkarska, Macedonia, October 26th, 1917, aged 27. Also of his brother, Alfred Melbourne Coate (Chum) Sec-Lieut, Royal Field Artillery, killed in action at Mory Copse, near Albert, France, August 27th, 1918, aged 19. Buries in the British Cemetery Douchey-les-Ayette, South-South-West of Arras. 'What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter.' Erected by their father, mother, brothers and sisters.”