War memorials and cenotaphs

At the same time as they were building national cemeteries and memorials the mourning communities also decided to create local monuments to pay tribute to their dead, an entire lost generation.

In France this is a well-known phenomenon: the memorials for the dead. The French came up with the idea after the previous war, in 1870, against the Prussians. This phenomenon, however, took on a whole different dimension at the end of the Great War. Several French municipalities started to build the typical monuments, on which the names of all the men in the town who died during the conflict were recorded. Several thousands of such monuments were erected after 1918.

In the United Kingdom too War Memorials were built after the war in various locations across the country. Here, however, a special form of tribute developed, soon after the war commenced, and which continued for the entire duration of this war: the Rolls of Honour. These lists, usually kept by schools and associations, listed all the alumni or members who died on the battlefield.

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  • Inauguration of the memorial at Louvencourt (Somme), first quarter of the 20th century, photo, coll. Historial de la Grande Guerre, Péronne

  • Bas-relief of the memorial in Haisnes (Pas-de-Calais), first quarter of the 20th century, photo, © Jacques Quecq d’Henripret/Cassel, musée départemental de Flandre

    This monument, which was inaugurated in September 1934, was designed by the sculptor Henri Soubricas (1886-1942). The bas-relief shows a mother, her son and daughter praying at the grave of their deceased husband and father.

  • Haydon Bridge War Memorial, photo, coll. Linge © P&K Linge

    Haydon Bridge is a small village in Northumberland (England). Its war memorial was inaugurated in September 1921. It records the name of 56 men and one woman.

LouvencourtBas-relief of the memorial in Haisnesunveiling of war memorial Haydon Bridge