War dead 1914-1918

On 19th October 1926 Edward, Prince of Wales (later Edward VIII), unveiled a memorial in Westminster Abbey to the Million Dead of the First World War. It was presented to the Abbey by the Imperial War Graves Commission. This stone tablet, designed by Lt. Colonel P.H.C. de Lafontaine, has coloured arms of the United Kingdom in the centre, surrounded by those of India, Canada, Australia, South Africa, New Zealand and Newfoundland. The memorial was placed on a special platform in the nave, near the monument to Newton, for the unveiling service and then put in its present position in St George's chapel, near the grave of the Unknown Warrior (the chapel at this period was called the chapel of the Holy Cross or Warriors chapel). The original inscription, in blue with gilt capitals, was composed by Rudyard Kipling and read:

To The Glory of God And to the memory of One Million Dead of the British Empire who fell in the Great War 1914-1918. They Died in Every Quarter of the Earth and on all its Seas and their Graves are made sure to them by their Kin. The Main Host lie Buried in the Lands of our Allies of the War who have set aside their resting places in Honour for Ever

The inscription was altered after the Second World War but is the same as the above apart from the different phrase after the word Empire:

...Who fell in the Two Wars 1914 and 1939...

The ashes of two commanders of the Great War, Field Marshal Lord Plumer and Field Marshal Lord Allenby, are buried in this chapel.

British and Empire Fighting Forces panel 1914-18

In a private room known as the Samaria chamber, not far from this chapel, is a wooden gilded triptych panel, known as the British and Empire Fighting Forces memorial. This was made by Jessie Bayes from a design by Captain H. Oakes-Jones. This gives the enlistment numbers of personnel in all branches of the services. The British Army section notes the numbers of men who enlisted from the UK and Commonwealth countries. Numbers of those killed from each service are also noted. There are heraldic shields of the UK countries, Dominions and Colonies shown at the sides.  An inscription reads "To the innermost heart of their own land they are known. As the stars are known to the night".

(For further information on this panel contact Westminster Abbey Library).

Memorial

19th October 1926

Occupation

Soldier; airman; sailor

Location

St George's Chapel

Memorial Type

Tablet

War dead 1914-1918
Million war dead 1914-1918 memorial with addition for 1939-1945

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

Image © 2022 Dean and Chapter of Westminster

Wooden panel containing the numbers of men of the UK and Commonwealth who enlisted during the 1914-18 war
British and Empire Fighting Forces panel

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

Image © 2022 Dean and Chapter of Westminster