This November Adam Walsh, our Collections Engagement Officer, will be telling the stories of some of our places and their links to the First World War as part of the annual armistice commemoration, In this blog, Adam concludes by looking at the memorials of the Great War and our links to them.
At eleven o’clock in November 1918 the guns finally fell silent on the western front as a ceasefire was declared. The experiences of the war had left a collective trauma on the nations involved. In the years that followed, war memorials both public and private would be built in towns and villages across the U.K.
Among the memorials built was the Sandham Memorial Chapel in Hampshire. The chapel was designed by Lionel Pearson and commissioned by Mary and Louis Behrend. It was dedicated to Lieutenant Henry William Sandy, Mary’s brother, who had died in 1919 from an illness he had contracted during the Macedonian campaigns.
The Chapel is famous for the paintings it houses by artist Stanley Spencer who drew on his every day experiences of being a private soldier serving in Macedonia and the U.K. Spencer had served as an orderly in the Royal Medical Corp, before volunteering for overseas service in August 1916. Serving in Macedonia himself, he would transfer to the Infantry with the Royal Berkshires before contracting malaria and eventually being sent home.
Herbert Baker, the famous architect and owner of Owletts, was involved in designing memorials to the sacrifices made during the war. Baker designed the memorial at Winchester College and later the largest British War Cemetery in the World at Tyne Cot in the Ypres salient.
Following the end of the war Rudyard Kipling also dedicated large parts of his life to the War Graves Commission. It would be Kipling who chose the words ‘The Glorious Dead’ engraved at each end of the Cenotaph in London, the centre of the nations commemorations the Sunday nearest to armistice. He would also select the biblical phrase ‘their name liveth for ever more’ seen on many British War Memorials.
Have you forgotten yet?…
For the world’s events have rumbled on since those gagged days,
Like traffic checked a while at the crossing of city ways:
And the haunted gap in your mind has filled with thoughts that flow
Like clouds in the lit heavens of life; and you’re a man reprieved to go,
Taking your peaceful share of Time, with joy to spare.
But the past is just the same—and War’s a bloody game…
Have you forgotten yet?…
Look down, and swear by the slain of the War that you’ll never forget.
Aftermath by Siegfried Sassoon March 1919
Next week Crispin Scott, our Nature Conservation Adviser will be talking about what goes on in the natural world during the winter months.