01 September 2011
War memorials are a touchstone to our past; a means to understand the impact of conflict and educate young people of its consequences. There are estimated to be 100,000 war memorials across the UK taking a huge variety of forms from crosses and obelisks through to plaques, hospitals and bus shelters. They often slip into the background of our daily landscape, forgotten. Taking the time to stop, look and read them can reveal a myriad of stories.
Take the Menai Bridge war memorial. A granite Celtic cross stands atop a plinth on which are inscribed the names of those remembered. Alongside the name is the regiment, the date and where they died. During the two World Wars men from the small town fell across the globe in Ireland, Flanders, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Malta, Egypt, Turkey (Gallipoli), Burma and India.
Each and every war memorial has its own tales. Looking at a list of names can lead you to investigate further their lives and stories, those recorded lived in your local area but likely fell overseas. The memorial itself will have been paid for and erected by people who live in your community. How they did this and why they choose the commemorative form they did can be fascinating. Some communities choose not to record names on the memorials, an accompanying roll of honour deemed more appropriate and often housed in a local church or council building to be visited on a separate occasion. These stories are in danger of being forgotten but taking the time to stop and look at your memorial ensures those who made the ultimate sacrifice continue to be remembered.
If, whilst stopping to take a look, you feel the memorial may be in poor condition then let War Memorials Trust know, www.warmemorials.org. The charity works to protect and conserve war memorials in the UK and can provide advice, information and grants to help repair and conservation. It is also a partner in In Memoriam 2014, a project to offer greater protection to our war memorial heritage through the application of SmartWater to deter theft, find out more at www.warmemorials.org/im2014/.
Posted by Frances Moreton, War Memorials Trust
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