Adding new names to old memorials

The following is a good example of an enquiry we frequently receive at the UKNIWM.

“I have been asked by some WW2 veterans if names can still be added to war memorials. It is the impression of some people that no names can be added after 1947. I can understand this if it relates to a National War Memorial with only the names of the fallen in WW1 & WW2 only, but surely local memorials can be exempt?”

The answer is that just as war memorials were erected by many different people and organisations for many different purposes, so there is no blanket ruling on who can and can’t be named on them.

Some included those who had been shot for cowardice, some did not. Some included those who had died in the 1920s from the affects of wounds. Some memorials didn’t include any names at all when they were first erected and these were actually added many years later.

Very many memorials do allow the addition of later names, whether this is individuals from a past conflict who were ‘missed off’ the memorial at the time, or names from more recent conflicts. If you look at memorials we have recorded to Iraq or Northern Ireland, you will find that very many of these are actually names added to existing First or Second World War memorials.

Of course, this also means that the owners or custodians of a particular memorial can themselves decide to allow no further additions to that memorial.

The following is an extract from one our FAQs about how names might be missed off a memorial.

“It is not uncommon to find a name you might expect to be commemorated on a particular memorial missing from that memorial.

There was no central body through which a list could be obtained of those from an area who had died so it was up to the local community to compile the list of people to include on their memorial. This meant that names could very easily be omitted that might otherwise have been included, as the names were collected via a variety of means: advertising in a local newspaper; announcement in local church; house to house survey; or completing forms. Consequently, if a family had already left the area their relative may not have been recorded. Alternatively, relatives did not always want names inscribed, for example, if their loved one was still missing in action rather than confirmed dead.”

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