War Memorials - their place in our consciousness?

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by Punch, Oct 19, 2009.

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  1. Barking Spider in a different forum (NAAFI) refers toWar Memorials in the context of recent events in Sheffield.
    His comment that it is almost 100 years since the first of the WW1 casuaties appeared on such local memorials and that we have somewhat lost touch with the events of that era caught my interest.
    Recently my (adopted - I am not from here originally) village collected some money to clean down the local War Memorial. It had looked a little uncared for - covered in algae and under some trees.
    When cleaned it looked much more impressive. It is set in a small plot in the corner of the churchyard of the Parish Church, a plot I understand to have been given to the Parish Council by the church authorities in perpetuity.
    On asking someone who was, I discovered later, a relative of one of those on the memorial if there was to be a formal rededication I received a rather vague response. Furthermore I found that few of those living locally were aware of those names or even how many there were on the memorial.
    I did some formal research and have produced a booklet of almost fifty A4 pages listing the fourteen WW1 and four WW2 names on the memorial. This includes their homes. birthplaces, parents, siblings where possible, their service and unit, and the place and nature of their death if this could be ascertained. Some are interred in unknown graves, three were lost at sea, and some have identified graves. Part of the presentation includes the cemetery or memorial which holds their body or carries their name. The memorials include the Merchant Marine memorial at Tower Hill, the Plymouth Memorial to RN losses, and the Anzac memorial at Gallipoli besides a number of Western Front memorials and burial grounds. There are three pairs of brothers among the casualties. Some photograps are included.

    It opens with "It is almost 100 years....", hence the reference to the comment by Barking Spider. The introduction includes some references to todays events in Afghanistan.
    The booklet will be presented at the rededication service on 8th Nov

    While much of the research came from the internet, some came from local knowledge, and some from regimental museums. I was even able to find the hospital records of two who died of wounds.
    I found this immensely rewarding and would recommend such a project to anyone with the time and resources - I am semi-retired.
    Having spent some three months on this I almost know these young men as sons and brothers. Neighbours have paid me the compliment of stating they now know their ancestors of that period much better.
    (It pained me in fact to discover how little was known of them and how little interest there was initially)
     
  2. There is a fantastic - just fantastic - book by Ian Hislop called "the Forgotten" or "the Fallen" IIRC which deals with War memorials - families just wiped out. Very interesting, moving and thought provoking. Might be of interest.
     
  3. A very good site...HERE.
     
  4. My research site for the Men of Worth, which is about the men and women of Keighley and the Worth Valley who fought in the world wars (although it is not limited to just WW1 and WW2):

    Men of Worth

    I'm using a free wiki as an online resource to show the research and encourage others to contribute, which they are starting to do. It costs nothing to set up and run, and anyone can log in and add information.
    Eventually we'll be creating a permanent display for the whole project. Our deadline for completion of the display is 2014 (for obvious reasons) although the research will not stop at that.

    Lets not forget probably the most useful link for researching war dead:

    The Commonwealth War Graves Commission
    Start searching by clicking on 'Search our Records'
     
  5. spike7451

    spike7451 RIP

    My father lived in Whitehead,Co Antrim as a child before joining up in WWII & then living in England until he retired & moved back.A few years ago,about 15 I think,I took Dad out for the day & he noticed Whitehead had a new/repaired war memorial so we stopped.
    On the memorial was every child Dad went to school with,most of them were in the RN or Merchant Navy.
    Dad was the only one to survive the war.
     
  6. Tytus_Barnowl

    Tytus_Barnowl On ROPs

    Every time I pass a Memorial in a village or town I always look at the similar names. This reminds me and us all that entire families were wiped out in the 2 great world conflicts. The grandchildren of those on the memorials are fighting today. They are no different in cameraderie or courage.
     
  7. In my opening post of this topic I described the booklet I produced on the Fallen of my local small (adoptive) village.
    Yesterday I had the honour and privilege of presenting this at the Commemoration Service in the church. The service was followed by a re-dedication ceremony of the newly refurbished Memorial.
    Although there were few present who had served - they were all at the main parade in the nearby town - a surprising number of the older people there were able to tell me of their family connections to the fourteen WW1 and four WW2 casualties. I have also found a memorial panel from the old village hall. It lists - besides the Fallen - some twenty plus who also served in WW1. I hope to research this soon.
    I would recommend this exercise to anyone with the time who has in their locality a small memorial of half forgotten names. It is satisfying and thought-provoking. I have been asked to produce a number of copies of the booklet for which I have been offered payment. I suggested they give me the cost of paper and ink and make a donation to the RBL.

    When the congregation had dispersed I also had the opportunity to pay my own respects, quietly and alone, to the memory of my lost friends of Operation Banner. This, sadly a long list, is something I found difficult at the more public commemoration I usually attend.