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War Memorials Built 100 Years Ago Listed to Commemorate the First World War on Armistice Day

  • Eight memorials built by communities in 1917, to commemorate the sacrifice of both those who had been killed, and those who were still serving have been newly listed at Grade II
  • From an obelisk on the site of a hospital for Indian troops, to a grave marker for infants killed in an air raid, these memorials mark the devastating consequences for communities as the war continued

As the commemorations of the sacrifices made in the First World War continue, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, on the advice of Historic England, has listed at Grade II eight war memorials which are reaching their centenary this year, and another has had its listing updated to fully reflect its historical importance.

Although the majority of First World War memorials were not constructed until after the end of the war, memorials began to be built prior to this as a way to provide the community with focus for their grief. Some of these were by individuals to commemorate family members, others by local communities to honour the sacrifices being made or to specific events and places related to the war effort.

Grave marker for the mass grave of 15 infants killed on 13 June 1917 at Upper North Street School Poplar
Grave marker for the mass grave of 15 infants killed on 13 June 1917 at Upper North Street School Poplar. The grave is at East London Cemetery, Plaistow © Historic England

Karen Bradley, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, said: "Our local war memorials act as a permanent reminder of the lasting effects the First World War had on communities across the UK and the bravery of those who served. As we enter the final year of our centenary commemorations, it is important that we continue to remember the sacrifice made by those who never came home. I hope people will visit their local memorial to learn more about the role their community played in this pivotal point in our history."

Duncan Wilson, Chief Executive of Historic England, said: "These memorials were an important indicator of society's attitude as the war progressed and as the loss of life increased to unprecedented levels. They were not just a focal point for people's grief but also seen as a symbol to those still fighting."

Contemporary newspaper reports indicate a strong desire to erect war shrines from 1916 onwards; however they were controversial as some saw them as anti-patriotic and disrespectful to those fighting. Ultimately these war memorials and shrines became a precursor what was to come: the national movement to memorialise that took place following the war.

Patrington War Memorial, Holderness, Humberside
Patrington War Memorial, Holderness, Humberside © War Memorials Online

Grave Marker Poplar Air Raid, East London Cemetery, Plaistow

On 13 June 1917 Kagohl 3, a squadron of the German Army High Command created specifically for bombing England, flew from Belgium to attack the City of London.  Of the twenty aircraft in the squadron, 14 reached the target whilst three bombed Margate and Shoeburyness.  The attack resulted in 162 civilian deaths and injury to a further 432 people.  This was the first attack on London by a squadron of aircraft, following two earlier raids by lone aircraft in 1916 and 1917, and inflicted the single highest number of casualties of all the air-raids on the city.

Amongst the dead were 18 children from Upper North Street School, Poplar.  A bomb dropped by a Gotha on its return from the City raid passed through the school roof and the upper stories, exploding in the classroom below where more than 60 Infants were being taught.  Of the 18 children who died, 16 were aged five or six years. At least 37 other children were injured, some very seriously.

A large marble grave marker marks the mass grave of 15 of the 18 infants. The fact that the mass grave is marked by such a large, kerbed marker is testament to the unusual circumstances of their death and the public outcry which followed. Paid for by generous public subscription the grave marker serves as a reminder of the 'reach' of the First World War beyond the trenches and to the Home Front.  The memorial to the 18 children, situated nearby, was upgraded to Grade II* earlier this year.

Read the Poplar air raid grave marker list entry 

East London Cemetery Company War Memorial, Plaistow

This wheel-head cross surmounting a monolithic pillar is formed from rough-hewn stone and is a strikingly bold design for its date. The memorial was erected by the East London Cemetery Company and - unlike other memorials which were dedicated to local men - carried an all-encompassing dedication to servicemen, their families and the British allies, with each country added separately. The memorial had two further alterations - one to add America to the list of allies after it joined the war in April 1917, the second to amend the date of the end of the war to 1918 - it had initially shown 1917 during the unveiling showing apparent hope the war would not continue for another year.

Read the East London Cemetery Company war memorial list entry 

Amington Cemetery War Memorial, Tamworth, Staffordshire

Erected in 1917 this striking stone cross stands in the centre of Amington Cemetery, and represents the community's wish to commemorate the ongoing sacrifice made during the conflict. The memorial was presented by EJ Cole, a local businessman whose eldest son - a Royal Field Artillery gunner - had been reported missing the year before.  In the event, Gunner Cole returned home at the end of the war having been held prisoner in Germany.  Following the cross's restoration in 2014 the names of 24 local servicemen are now recorded on the memorials plaques.

Read the Amington cemetery war memorial list entry 

Burton in Wirral Peace Cross, Cheshire

Unveiled in September 1917 this memorial consists of a stone-wheel cross rising from a tall, four-sided plinth surmounting a three-stepped base and represents the community's response to the horrors of the First World War. Unusually for the time the cross was not erected to commemorate fallen servicemen by name but rather as a plea for peace and a tribute to the sacrifices made by the village during the conflict.

Read the Burton in Wirral peace cross list entry

Ecton War Memorial Shrine, Northampton

Situated on the village green the shrine was funded by Mrs Edith Sotheby and the first name on the west side roll of honour is that of her son, Lionel Frederick Southwell Sotherby who died in 1915. It is thought the shrine may have originally been built in his memory and then adapted for the village.

A plaque has since been added to acknowledge the community's donation to Northampton General Hospital's war memorial fund following the Second World War.

Read the Ecton war memorial shrine list entry 

Ecton War Memorial Shrine, Northampton
Ecton War Memorial Shrine, Northampton © Flickr_Granpic

Patrington War Memorial, Holderness, Humberside

This stone monolith, unveiled in November 1917, sits in a prominent position on the main road through the village and is a striking memorial commemorating the men of Patrington who served during the First World War. When built, the memorial carried the names of all men who were serving in the war, as well as those who had lost their lives. The symbol of the cross was later added to mark the names of those who had died.

Read the Patrington war memorial list entry 

St Giles War Memorial, Reading

This calvary cross style war memorial is constructed mainly of teak and was designed after the vicar of the Church of St Giles, Reverend F C J Gillmor, expressed his desire to erect a war shrine in the parish. It was designed by architect Spencer Slingsbury Stallwood, who had been churchwarden at the Church for 21 years. Dedicated on Christmas Day 1917 by the Bishop of Oxford, the memorial contains no names and instead a book was in preparation to record the names of those who had died.

Read the St Giles war memorial list entry 

Winsford First World War Memorial, Over, Winsford, Cheshire

This memorial was erected in 1917 in the newly extended churchyard at the parish church of St Chad. The Reverend William Herbert Stables ensured that the names of local servicemen killed were added to the plinth and base of the memorial as the parish was notified so servicemen on leave could see the memorial. It is now thought that the memorial bears the names of over 200 servicemen.

Read the Winsford First World War memorial list entry 

Winsford First World War memorial, Over, Winsford
Winsford First World War memorial, Over, Winsford © War Memorials Online

Memorial Obelisk to Convalescent Depot for Indian Troops, Barton-on-Sea, Hampshire (Grade II listing enhanced with further detail)

First listed in 1974 this granite obelisk marks the site of the hospital that served Indian soldiers evacuated during the early years of the First World War and appears to be one of only two freestanding memorials in England that commemorate Indian servicemen. Some 25,000 sick and injured Indian soldiers were posted to Barton-on-Sea to recover and the obelisk includes a dedication in both English and Urdu which shows the respect in which the soldiers had been held by the hospital staff who paid for the memorial. The listing will be updated to better reflect its historical background.

Read the Barton-on-Sea memorial obelisk list entry

Memorial Obelisk reads 'This memorial is erected to commemorate the establishment at Barton-on-Sea in 1914 of the convalescent depot for Indian troops who fought in Europe during the Great War and was subscribed for by members of the staff'
Memorial Obelisk to Convalescent Depot for Indian Troops, Barton-on-Sea, Hampshire © C E Moreton, War Memorials Online
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