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The Ministry of Defence's Policy on War Memorials

Introduction I Policy I Maintenance I Disposal I Inventory I War Memorials Trust I English Heritage I
The Public Monuments and Sculpture Association

Memorials are important to the country and the people of this country. Though many memorials were erected many years ago, the vast majority following the tremendous loss of life during the First World War, they are still as relevant now as when they were first built. By their very nature, memorials commemorate the dead and their deeds. They may be quite specific, monuments to a single individual or a small group of people, whose exploits were deemed particularly worthy of commemoration by the erecting of a permanent reminder of their lives. They might also commemorate the members of a community, lost singly or over a period of time, who were known by local people as part of the life of a town or village, as well as their own families. The raising of these memorials was often organised by the local authority and there was a corporate responsibility to ensure that the names of local people were not forgotten.

When we think of memorials, we tend to think specifically of war memorials to the dead of the two World Wars. There are over 54,000 war memorials and monuments all over Great Britain, the majority being small affairs raised by local people for local people, which were constructed in the years following the end of the Great War 1914-1918. They were built in many forms, including the familiar stone cross, with attached tablets engraved with the names of the fallen, generally sited in a small Garden of Remembrance, or as plaques, plinths, churches, memorial halls and hospitals. However the community which organised the construction of the memorial decided to commemorate the dead, one aim was common to all: to remember their names and their deeds so that the following generations would not forget their sacrifice, and that in maintaining their memory in this way their deaths might not have been in vain. It is a sobering thought that many of the memorials raised after the First World War had to be modified after the Second World War so that additional names could be added. Indeed, many local authorities, which generally speaking are responsible for the upkeep of local war memorials, have added further names of those killed in conflicts since the end of the Second World War.

The interest in war memorials continues unabated. Every year more are erected by concerned individuals, groups and organisations who feel that there is justification for the erection of another monument to the fallen.

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