Wickham Stone Park Logo

World War II Memorial

Description

"Erected on the north side of the road, facing back towards the Wickham cabin, this was, presumably, Wickham’s first ‘public’ sculpture. A monument to World War II veterans, it attracted a great deal of attention when it was first presented. Wickham had asked Carroll Ellis, a neighbor and a member of the Sportsman’s Club who was employed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, to invite the United States Senator from Tennessee, Estes Kefauver, to give dedicatory remarks at a ceremony unveiling the statue. Kefauver was flown to the site by Army helicopter, an Army band played, and Wickham was presented with an American flag which he would later fly on the flagpole near the statues.

The soldier on the monument had special significance to Wickham for he had lost his second to youngest son, Ernest, in World War II. He was killed in action in southern France, December 6, 1944 while serving in the Army. Wickham’s daughter Rita Johnson says that her father used a photograph of her brother when sculpting the figure, and that the end result was a good resemblance of her favorite brother, who was closest to her in age.

Wickham’s representation of Ernest Wickham stood life size on a mound atop a concrete podium that raised him ten feet off the ground. The figure originally wore an actual WWII helmet on his head. Surrounded by artillery shells and cannon balls, Ernest Wickham held a rifle at attention on his right arm and rested his left hand on an artillery shell. The sloping mound, which elevates the figure above the podium, is also embedded with slag that Wickham could have collected from the nearby furnace behind the statues, and shards of blown glass, which family members remember Wickham getting from the family glass works in Clarksville.

This visual vocabulary of studding a concrete surface with curious rocks and objects has a long history in the context of self-trained artists. Wickham may have borrowed the idea from Brother Joseph Zoettl ‘s Ave Maria Grotto at St. Bernard Abbey in Cullman, Alabama. Wickham’s grandson Jack Wickham remembers that his grandfather once visited the Ave Maria Grotto, which was near Sacred Heart Convent where Wickham’s daughter Nora (Sister Justina) is a Catholic nun. Wickham’s grand-daughter Nancy Johnson Ledbetter remembers bringing him a brochure about the Ave Maria Grotto on one of her visits home from the Convent high school, which she attended from 1958 to 1962.

The base of Wickham’s World War II monument is surrounded with inscriptions, but perhaps the most revealing is an epitaph that reads: Whether on Scaffolds High or Battles Van, the Fittest Place for Man to Die is Where He Dies for Man. Wickham had created a concrete-lined vault in the family cemetery for Ernest’s burial. He later added similar vaults beside the grave for his wife and himself." - quoted text is from the 2001 Customs House Museum Online Wickham Exhibit.

The above epitaph from this memorial is by Michael J. Barry(1817-1889) writings in the Dublin Nation circa 1844. Another epitaph on the Kohima World War II War Memorial remembers the fallen Allies at the Battle of Kohima :

When You Go Home, Tell Them Of Us And Say,
For Their Tomorrow, We Gave Our Today

Picture Gallery
(Click on image for larger view)

WW II Memorial

Sgt. York,WW II Memorial and Andrew Jackson

Ernest Wickham E.T. Wickham by WW II Memorial

WW II Memorial

Sgt York,WW II Memorial & Jackson E.T. Wickham's son Ernest E.T. Wickham by WW II Memorial
ET by WW II Memorial,Alvin York and Andrew Jackson WW II Memorial Closeup Memorial & Jackson WW II Memorial
ET by WW II Memorial,Alvin York and Andrew Jackson WW II Memorial Closeup WW II Memorial and Andrew Jackson WW II Memorial

Inscriptions
(Front,Rear,Left,Right)


BUILT BY E.T. WICKHAM 1959 THIS MONUMENT IS BUILT IN HONOR OF ALL MEN WHO HAVE GONE FORTH BY LAND, SEA OR AIR TO FACE ALMOST CERTAIN DEATH, ESPECIALLY THESE GALLANT MEN FROM 18TH ,19TH & 20TH DISTRICT OF MONTGOMERY CO.TENN. WHO SACRIFICED THEIR LIVES IN ACTION AND WHOSE NAMES ARE INSCRIBED HERE. MAY WE FOREVER RETAIN THIS FREEDOM. 

WHETHER ON SCAFFOLDS HIGH OR BATTLES VAN
THE FITTEST PLACE FOR MAN TO DIE IS WHERE HE DIES FOR MAN

19TH DISTRICT          18TH DISTRICT
ERNEST WICKHAM     STEWART BAGGETT
AUSTIN WICKHAM     RAY JACKSON  
TURNER RAID             WALTER EADS
WILLIAM MARTIN     BRANDON UNDERWOOD
GEORGE LANKFORD  GILBERT UNDERWOOD
STANLEY LISENBY
CHARLIE POWERS
RICHARD EVANS
ROGER SPEARS
RAYMOND ESTES
ARVILL SUITER 
DANNY T.ODHAM 
LEAVY S. SUITER
CHARLES T. SHELTON 

 

20TH DISTRICT
MAURICE TROTTER
WILLIAM FLETCHER

 

 

 

 

 

 




PVT Earnest W. Wickham

ID: 34366502
Branch of Service: U.S. Army
Hometown: Montgomery County, TN
Status: KIA

E.T. Wickham’s son Ernest was killed in France on December 6, 1944

E.T.'s inscription on WW II Memorial

Get a souvenir of this statue at the new online Wickham Stone Park Gift Shop

Boone Oxen Hudson Davis Kennedy Peay Totem Doctor York WW2 Jackson