War Memorials

War Memorials

During and after the First World War, Britain's attitude towards war memorials altered. Instead of commemorating military triumph, the emphasis fell on the ordinary soldier. War memorials became a permanent reminder of the sacrifice made by so many servicemen and women and the bereavement of those they left behind. There are hundreds of war memorials across London.

The Grave of the Unknown Soldier, completed in 1921, is a symbol for all who have died in service, although it was established after the First World War. In 1916, an army chaplain on the Western Front saw a grave that was marked with the simple message 'An Unknown British Soldier'. In 1920, he wrote to the Dean of Westminster proposing that an unidentified soldier, killed in battle, should be buried in Westminster Abbey. By placing him 'amongst the Kings', he would represent the significance of each serviceman or women to the nation and the world.

The grave is made of a slab of black Belgian marble, engraved with an inscription using silver from melted-down ammunition.

The London Cenotaph stands in Whitehall, Westminster. It was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens. Initially it was made from plaster and erected in 1919 as part of celebrations for the Allied Victory Parade. It was soon replaced with a permanent Portland stone version.

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