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.
The design is simple. Its few words commemorate 'The Glorious Dead'. Although it was created in remembrance of the First World War, it has come to represent much more than this. In 1946, George VI added an inscription in memory of those lost in the Second World War. It is the focus of national ceremonies on Armistice Day and Remembrance Sunday.
The Royal Artillery Memorial at Hyde Park Corner commemorates all casualties of British Regiments of Artillery in the First World War. It was designed by Charles Jagger (1885-1934) in 1925.
The large sculpture consists of a Howitzer (a type of field artillery), stone reliefs and four bronze soldiers, and is designed to show the harsh realities of war. It bears the inscription 'Here was a Royal fellowship of death', taken from Shakespeare's play, Henry V. In 1949 three bronze panels were added, extending the commemoration to the 30,000 soldiers of the Royal Artillery killed in the Second World War.
The Royal Air Force Memorial monument, completed in 1923, stands on the Victoria Embankment. A gilded eagle rests on top of the Portland stone column, looking across the river towards France. The R.A.F. Memorial Fund funded this monument, fulfilling one of its earliest aims: to commemorate the airmen that were killed in the First World War.
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