Remembrance Day

November 11, 2010

It’s Remembrance Day and all across the UK – and around the world – people are pausing to reflect on those who gave their lives fighting for their country. While the main events related to the day – the laying of wreaths at the Cenotaph and a parade – takes place on Remembrance Sunday, we’re marking the day today with a list of 10 of London’s World War I and II-related war memorials.

This list is by no means comprehensive – there are scores of other memorials in London which relate to the two world wars – but we’d welcome your comments of any others you think we should mention. Lest We Forget…

1. The Cenotaph – The most famous of London’s war memorials (pictured right), this simply designed – almost plain – monument stands in the middle of Whitehall and was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens to commemorate the dead of World War I. It is here that the Queen and other dignitaries lay wreaths on Remembrance Sunday in remembrance of the war dead of both world wars.

2. The Monument to the Women of World War II – Located just along from the Cenotaph, this much criticised memorial marks the role more than seven million women played during World War II. Unveiled in 2005, the memorial was designed by John W. Mills and depicts a series of coats worn by women during the war hanging as though on pegs.

3. The Tower Hill Memorial – This memorial, which was originally unveiled in 1928 and then added to after World War II, commemorates the men and women of the merchant navy and fishing fleets who were killed in either world war and have no known grave. It lists more than 36,000 names. For more information, see www.cwgc.org/search/cemetery_details.aspx?cemetery=90002&mode=1.

4. The Battle of Britain Monument – Located on the north bank of the Thames at Victoria Embankment, this monument pays tribute to those who took part in the Battle of Britain during World War II. Sculpted by Paul Day, it features scenes from the battle in high relief bronze with virtually life-sized statues of airmen scrambling to their aircraft at its centre. Unveiled on 18th September, 2005, the 65th anniversary of the battle. For more information, see www.bbm.org.uk

5. The National Firefighters Memorial – Marking the role played by firefighters during the Blitz of London in World War II (as well as the role of firefighters generally), the memorial (pictured right) was designed by John Mills and features the “Blitz” statue – two life-sized firefighters and an officer cast in bronze – standing atop a plinth. First unveiled in by Queen Elizabeth II in 1991, it originally featured the names of 997 men and women who died during the Blitz inscribed upon it but this was extended to include firefighters who have died in peacetime and an additional 1192 names were added prior to a rededication in 2003. Located just south of St Paul’s on the main route to the Millennium Bridge, it is the focus of the annual Firefighters Day of Remembrance held each September. For more information, see www.firefightersmemorial.co.uk.

6. The Animals in War Memorial – Commemorating all the animals that died alongside British, Commonwealth and Allied forces during the wars and conflicts of the 20th century, this unusual monument at Brook Gate in Park Lane was unveiled in 2004. The sculptures include two mules, a horse and a dog all cast in bronze while other animals are depicted in bas-relief on a wall of Portland stone. For more information, see www.animalsinwar.org.uk

7. Canada Memorial – Located in Green Park (just inside Canada Gate), the memorial, designed by Quebec artist Pierre Granche, honors the more than 100,000 Canadians who died in the world wars as well as the more than one million who served. Made of red granite inset with bronze maple leaves, it was designed to create the impression of maple leaves floating down a stream. Unveiled by Queen Elizabeth II in 1994.  www.vac-acc.gc.ca/remembers/sub.cfm?source=memorials/ww2mem/green-park-memorial

8. Australian War Memorial – Located close to Wellington Arch at Hyde Park Corner, this monumental wall (pictured right) marks the role Australians played in both World Wars. More than 100,000 Australians died during the conflicts and the names of the 23,844 towns in which they were born are inscribed on the wall over which is superimposed the names of 47 battles in which Australians fought in. Unveiled on the 85th anniversary of Armistice Day, 2003. For more information, see www.awmlondon.gov.au.

9. New Zealand War Memorial – Located at Hyde Park Corner diagonally opposite the Australian War Memorial, this monument was designed by architect John Hardwick-Smith and sculptor Paul Dibble and features 16 bronze cross-shaped ‘standards’ of varying heights set in formation and inscribed with text, patterns and some small sculptures. Dedicated on Armistice Day, 2006, by Queen Elizabeth II.

10. Soviet War Memorial – Found in the Geraldine Mary Harmsworth Park – adjacent to the Imperial War Museum in Southwark, the Soviet War Memorial was unveiled in 1999. Designed by sculptor Sergei Shcherbakov, it commemorates the 27 million people who died in the Soviet Union during World War II. For more information, see www.scrss.org.uk/sovietmemorial.htm.