The War Memorials Trust defines a war memorial as ‘any physical object created, erected or installed to commemorate those involved in or affected by a conflict of war’. A war memorial can be anything from a monument or plaque to a tree. It can be a locomotive, a garden, a peal of bells, a window or even a complete street. The list is endless.
If a grave contains the body of a soldier the gravestone is not a war memorial. If a gravestone bears the name of a serviceman killed in action but whose body is not in the grave then it does count as a war memorial.
Because war memorials were often located in places of special significance to the soldiers and chosen by the community the War Memorials Trust would prefer them to be left in their original position. However this is not always possible. Too many war memorials including wall plaques have been lost when buildings were demolished and the War Memorials Trust wishes to prevent this from happening in the future. Grants are now available from the War Memorials Trust to renovate war memorials which are in a bad condition.
Most memorials can be found by going to www.warmemorialsonline.org.uk/memorial/ followed by the reference number for any individual memorial.
History of War Memorials
From the 17th century onwards It became relatively commonplace to commemorate leaders and individual officers, which is why we often see a statue of a famous general from a past century in our town centres or plaques inside churches commemorating the death of a soldier son of a wealthy local family. As time went on memorials were occasionally erected for specific regiments thus acknowledging the role of the common soldier, although there was still no list of names.
Owing to army reforms by the time of the Second Boer War in 1899 soldiers were mainly literate volunteers recruited from local communities and so their deaths were deeply felt locally. In addition reporters were sending back eyewitness accounts of the war. The result was a desire to commemorate the dead rather than to celebrate a victory and at least 1,800 war memorials were constructed, often designed by notable sculptors.
The loss of life during the First World War was enormous and at the time it was government policy not to repatriate the dead. Instead they were buried in special war cemeteries often on or close to the battlefield. Many of those who were killed in the First World War have no known grave or their bodies were unrecognisable and they were buried with a simple headstone. With no grave close to home families felt a need to have an alternative place to visit. With no public money available for this initiative, local war memorials were paid for by public subscription and some quite expensive memorials were constructed indicating how deeply the community felt the loss of life. Sometimes a local donor would help towards the cost of a quite impressive monument but a simple cross or obelisk in a town or village was probably more common. Memorial plaques were also placed in schools, places of work, churches, clubs etc. The number of dead coming from some large towns and cities was too large to be able to inscribe all the names on the memorial. In these cases a general dedication was inscribed on the memorial and the names of the Fallen written in a Book of Remembrance kept in a town hall or parish church.
Fewer war memorials were constructed after the Second World War as the names of the dead were often inscribed on First World War memorials. However, due to the high loss of civilian life due to bombing, as well as a greater number of casualties in the RAF and the Royal Navy, those memorials that were constructed were not only in traditional designs and materials, such as a stone cross or obelisk, but could be anchors, buoys and propellers etc.
The names of those killed in more recent conflicts eg Korea, Suez, Falklands, Iraq or Afghanistan are usually added to existing memorials. However, a few new memorials have been commissioned. The most notable of these is the Armed Forces Memorial at the National Memorial Arboretum, Staffordshire. This commemorates all service personnel killed in action, on duty, or as a result of terrorist action since WW2.
Weaverham War Memorials
The main village war memorial (Ref:140677) is situated outside the Parish Church of St Mary the Virgin (listed Grade I) in the centre of the village. The war memorial is also listed in its own right as a Grade 2 listed building. Construction was completed early July 1921 and it was unveiled on Sunday 24 July 1921 by Major-General Sir Cecil Lothian Nicholson KCB CMG in the presence of a number of dignitaries including the Dean of Chester and Colonel Saner, with hundreds of people attending the ceremony.
The architect was Messrs Taylor and young and the memorial was supplied by Messrs Wippell and Co Ltd at a cost of £217 10s 3d. It commemorates 69 men who died in WW1 and 22 who died in WW2.
The memorial is an empty grave/cenotaph inscribed with the names of most of the men from Weaverham, Acton Bridge and Milton who were killed in action during both World Wars. The list includes the names of the Fallen who lived in roads which at the time were inside Weaverham but which, since more recent boundary changes, are now in Hartford. The names of Methodists and Jews killed in action are commemorated on separate memorials.
Some of the other notable memorials in Weaverham are:
Battle of Waterloo Memorial, St Mary’s Church (Ref 205682)
Third Burma War Memorial, St Mary’s Church (Ref 205689)
St Mary’s Church Organ (Ref 203353)
Former Methodist Church War Memorial (Ref 214468)
Former Bryn Chapel War Memorial (Ref 250700)
Owley Wood B.P. Scout Group War Memorial (Ref 250975)
Ist Weaverham Sea Scouts War Memorial (Ref 214475)
Lakehouse Field/The Village Green (260670)
The Memorial Orchard (Ref 250705)
World War one commemoration of Private Arnold Robinson (Ref 249851}
If you know of any other war memorials in Weaverham please contact us.