Commemoration of the First World War

This month sees the centenary commemorations of the First World War draw to a close with events marking one hundred years since the end of the war. During this four year period the country has honoured and paid gratitude to the hundreds of thousands who made sacrifices during this brutal conflict.

In the immediate aftermath of the war the country was focused on attempting to return to some form of normality as they tried come to terms with the tremendous loss of life. Thoughts were also focused on how to commemorate those that had paid the ultimate sacrifice.

The First World War marks a sea change in the way in which service personnel who were killed during combat were remembered in Britain. This can be attributed to several factors. This was war on a scale previously unexperienced by the country and its population. There was mass participation from those eligible to contribute to the war effort from all classes of society, and all parts of the country. And through modern communication methods, the extreme hardship and suffering experienced by the troops was fully understood by those back home.

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Unveiling of Denbigh War Memorial, Crown Square, 1920. (PPD/24/22)

London, became the focus of national commemoration. The Cenotaph in Whitehall, made from Portland stone and designed by Edwin Lutyens, and the grave of the Unknown Warrior, at the west end of the Nave of Westminster Abbey, were both opened in 1920. In Wales, the unveiling of the Welsh National War Memorial in Cathays Park, Cardiff, followed in 1928.

Throughout Denbighshire, we can still see how they remembered those who did not make it home. Llandegla has a War Memorial Hall, there is the War Memorial Park, in Corwen, and although now closed the Wrexham and East Denbighshire War Memorial Hospital still stands. For the majority of the county’s towns and villages commemoration came in the form of war memorials.

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Ex-First World War soldiers outside new Memorial Hall, Llanfair Talhaiarn, 1923. (PPD/56/34)

These poignant structures, which have since been used to remember those who fell in subsequent wars, such as the Second World War and the Falklands War, have become familiar sights to us. Many of us walk or drive passed them every day, but how much do we really know about them?

Did you know that Denbighshire Archives holds numerous documents which reveal the process which led to their erection during the post-war years. These records can allow us to discover such information as when the memorial was erected, who funded it, why a particular design was chosen, and who is responsible for its maintenance.

To browse the records we hold relating to war memorials please visit our website.

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