Temporary memorials – part two

Continued from part one 

Most temporary memorials are now lost to us, whether due to the insubstantial nature of their material (such as snow or topiary) or because they were replaced with a more permanent memorial and the original was discarded.

Details about these lost memorials may be very vague, often no more than an old photograph or newspaper article from the 1920’s, and no indication of its fate.

There were, however, exceptions. 

The top section of the original wooden Whitehall Cenotaph was kept for many years as a museum exhibit at the Imperial War Musuem.  It was only finally destroyed as a result of bombing during the Second World War.

At Rawmarsh, the temporary wooden cross erected anonymously in protest at the delay in establishing a permanent memorial, was buried beneath the new stone memorial.

An interesting example of temporary markers that have been removed from their original location and invested with a new purpose is the case of battlefield crosses.  These were the temporary wooden grave markers of casualities of the First World War, most of whom were buried in France and Belgium.  Over the years following the war the Imperial (later Commonwealth) War Graves Commission replaced the wooden markers with permanent headstones.

Some of the relatives of the dead were able to retrieve the wooden markers and return them to the UK to use as a memorial to their loved one.

In one extraordinary example, the vicar from St Marys Church in Byfleet, Surrey, led a pilgrimmage to France and Flanders.  They collected 22 grave markers which are still on display today in the church.

There are currently 462 of these Battlefield Cross memorials recorded on our database. (Search with ‘Cross – Battlefield’ as Type)

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1 comment
  1. knowall01 said:

    Great Article.

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