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As well as memorials that still exist, we also record ‘lost’ memorials.  These can include those that have been destroyed, stolen or simply disappeared from public view.  It’s not unheard of for lost memorials to turn up in someone’s garage!  Some memorials were only ever intended to be temporary, such as the snow memorial from Pateley Bridge, and we record those as well (click here for article on temporary memorials).

Memorials can often be put at risk if the building in which they are located changes use or is demolished.   We came across an rather unusual example of this yesterday.  In 1972 a church in Manchester was demolished and the land sold for housing.  Rather than move the war memorials to another church, the church secretary (who had been a conscientious objector in the Second World War) threw them out.

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Last week we received a phone call from Christchurch Borough Council.  They had discovered a marble memorial tablet in a heap of rubbish dumped on one of their beaches.  The memorial refered to the men of the parish who had joined the colours (i.e. served in the forces) during the First World War, and listed 4 names of those who had died.  Unfortunately (and not unusually) it didn’t say which parish!

There seemed a strong possibility that the tablet had been stripped from a local redundant church during renovation.  If they could discover where the church was it might be possible to return the memorial to the local community and find somehwere for it to be displayed.

The first place to start was with the names.  In addition to the surname, we were lucky that the memorial gave both full first names and a middle initial.  Many memorials list individuals only by their surname and first initial which makes identifying the men much harder.  

Using the Commonwealth War Gaves Commission’s Debt of Honour register we were able to positively identify three of the men.  Two of these had next of kin who lived in the same small area of Poole.  Using a publication called ‘Soldiers Died in the Great War’, we were able to discover that the third man had also lived in that area at the time he enlisted in the army.

Enquiries are still ongoing!

The men were,

Walter H Dyke (died 5 December 1917, aged 19)

William J Gillingham (died 27 October 1915, aged 19)

James C Hall (died 6 May 1918)

Edward C Elliott

A war memorial, that had lain forgotten in a disused chapel in the Staffordshire village of Outwoods for 25 years, has been recovered and will go back on display from tomorrow.

The memorial plaque was discovered by a local couple who spent six months arranging to have it moved to St Mary’s Church in the nearby village of Moreton.  The Bishop of Stafford will conduct a rededication service at St Mary’s tomorrow.

Read more from the Staffordshire Newsletter

The Outwoods memorial can now be added to our database.  If you know any more details about this memorial, such as the exact inscription, please let us know.

We usually think of memorials as permanent reminders but, in fact, some memorials were only ever intended to be temporary.

Probably the most notable of these is The Cenotaph in Whitehall.  This was originally conceived as a temporary memorial.  Constructed from wood and painted white, it was erected in 1919. However, it proved so popular with the public that it was replaced with a permanent replica in Portland Stone the following year. 

It was a similar situation in several other towns and cities after the First World War, where temporary wooden memorials were later replaced with stone, such as Wolverton, Buckinghamshire, Maidenhead in Berkshire and Hereford.

A more unusual temporary memorial could be found at Pateley Bridge (click to see photo) where a memorial was built from snow, as a protest at how long it was taking to erect a permanent memorial.

In Bradford they constructed a detailed replica of the Whitehall Cenotaph.  This in itself was not unusual, what was however, was the choice of material – topiary! (Click to see photo of Bradford Temporary Cenotaph).

An unusual temporary memorial dating from the Second World War was a portrait gallery in the Colchester Gas Company showroom for Salute the Soldier Week in 1944.

A memorial from more recent times was a handwritten card, sealed in a clear plastic pocket, commemorating Lance Corporal Matty Hull, who was killed in a ‘friendly fire’ incident in Iraq in 2003.  The card was pinned to the door to the Parachute Regiment Memorial Garden at Lincoln Castle.

To be continued…. find out what happened to the temporary memorials