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Cycle and Click a War Memorial for the Centenary

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This simple poem marks the conclusion of every Remembrance Day since 1920 and can be heard at countless ceremonies around the country on the 11th of November as an exhortation to the living.  After these solemn occasions we, the living, move on to enjoy another day whilst the names of the fallen remain on the granite hard faces of the memorials as our tribute to their passing.

Nearly one hundred years ago, at the new and temporary Cenotaph in London, our war weary nation burst into a collective expression of grief and mourning.  It was a public display of feeling that was literally unprecedented and quite unexpected.  And it set a new standard for people to publically unfetter their emotions in moments of sadness.

The work of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) and the Royal British Legion has provided us with a perpetual record of the thousands of men and women for whom we have nothing but memories.  We may feel a sense of gratitude for their sacrifice or perhaps we just have sheer relief that we weren’t called upon to be a part of their war effort.  But there is one last contribution that everyone can do for the enduring remembrance of the fallen. 

The memorials register of the Imperial War Museum, (IWM), is being updated to add images of the memorials upon which their names are recorded.  This may sound like a triviality in the grand scheme of global conflicts and millions of deaths.  But there is a benefit to the communities who have raised funds in the past to pay for these memorials and, in today’s world of electronic communication, for those who are unable to personally visit the graves of relatives.

I have always been interested in the history of the places that I have visited through work and on holiday.  We get a sense of why we are here in the present with an understanding of where we have been in the past. And the narrative of human conquest in history has a backdrop of new military warfare techniques and machines.  Put in another, less wordy way, the great industrial nations use their power to develop more efficient ways and methods of overcoming their foes.

In my retirement (and aged 66) I have found myself in a position to contribute to the documentation of the memorials in Warwickshire.   I have built a railway model of Folkestone harbour and, as it was a key embarkation port in both world wars, have developed scenarios to show how the military logistics machine operated during these conflicts.

A War Department ambulance railway train called the Netley coaches was built in 1900 and used in the Boer War, and again in 1914-1918.  It was called up in WW2 and, lastly in 1952, to take pilgrims to Lourdes.  My model of this train is complete and really looks like the real thing.  

At the same time a love of cycling has been taken me to new levels of fitness for a series of Eroica vintage bike events. So I find myself huffing and puffing past many war memorials on my cycle training route around Stratford.  It made a lot of sense to combine my need for cycling miles with the need to record those memorials for the nation and our community. In the last few weeks I have captured and sent images for 20 memorials.

The memorial register can be found online at the IWM website.  The register has a search facility by which the record for a place or person can inspected.   For the really keen and very mobile researcher it is useful to search by district or county.

In the district of Stratford-on-Avon there are 308 records and most (70%) of these have no images. The county wide records for Warwickshire show 801 records with a similar percentage of grey blank boxes showing ‘waiting for image to display’.  That means that there is an awful lot of trekking and camera clicking to be done to bring the memorials back to life on the register.

I will do my best to include one or two memorials in my weekly cycle and to send off those images to the IWM but at this rate of capture it will be take quite a few years to cover all of the missing memorial records.

So let me invite you to join the team to address this shortfall.

If you are interested in photographing your local memorial for prosperity, and learning a little more about the community and the role of its people in the Great War, then please contact me for more advice and guidance on how to be a part of this worthwhile project.

1139281979_WarMemorialBidfordOnAvonCrossIWM19207P1040182Small.jpg.78a3a9722878d054c84f794827de153f.jpgBidford on Avon, Memorial Cross, 2018.

David Austin.

daustin158 @ btinternet.com, 01789 261271 or 07501 136697 (and leave a message).

Biographical Notes: Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm, aircraft system engineer, project manager, railway modeller, military historian, author, photographer, yachtsman, Eroica vintage cyclist, Folkestone Harbour model railway.

IWM Memorials Register - iwm.org.uk/projects-and-partnerships/war-memorials-register


Dear Reader,

My name is Giles Penman, a PhD candidate at the University of Warwick studying the use of Roman and Ancient Greek images and forms on Great War medals and memorials. I am focusing on the memorials of historic Warwickshire for my case studies of war memorials but the lack of available images, outlined by David, poses a great obstacle to my research, since it means that I cannot conduct a visual analysis of the memorial and am, therefore, reliant on the sometimes inaccurate or incomplete descriptions provided by the National Index of War Memorials (NIWM) online. Consequently, I need images of war memorials to conduct an accurate assessment of the use of Classical images employed on them. I would, therefore, welcome any and all images that you may have or can acquire of the war memorials in the county of Warwickshire.  


Edited by CommanderChuff

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Thanks for the link,  just some thoughts to share,  I can see that this site is privately owned and has  images of grave headstones and general photos of memorials.


the IWM memorial register has a rather different purpose, being a database owned and maintained by the national war museum, it is an important document of record for the nation, and it holds full details of the subject of the memorial.  The register is available to everyone as a matter of public record and will be.maintained for forever.



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