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The Second World War Memorial


UK and Commonwealth Merchant Navy losses in World War 2 were very heavy indeed - to a great extent due to sinkings by German U-boats and mines. I am not sure that there is a definitive total but over 24,000 had been lost at sea. It was decided to commemorate them with a memorial and it was fitting to locate it in Trinity Square Gardens close to that constructed to commemorate losses in World War 1. In addition to members of the Merchant Navy, the memorial includes those lost from Fishing Fleets and United Kingdom Lighthouse and Pilotage Services.

This page provides information about the design and construction of the memorial and gives access to additional pages related to all the entries on the memorial.

To go directly to the entries on the memorial please click HERE.

Design and Construction of the Memorial

The memorial was designed by Sir Edward Brantwood Maufe (1883-1974) whose other works include the design of the Commonwealth Air Forces Memorial at Runnymede and Guildford Cathedral.

Approval of Design

Image 1 is a cutting from The Times on 18 February 1952 and announces the approval of the design for the memorial and includes a drawing of what it will look like. Note that the organisation that would become the Commonwealth War Graves Commission was known as the Imperial War Graves Commission at that time. [3]

WW2 Memorial WW2 Memorial WW2 Memorial

Dedication Panel

Image 7 shows the memorial dedication panel at the entrance to the WW2 memorial. [1]

View to South East

Sculpture by Charles Wheeler

The memorial is decorated with sculptures by Sir Charles Thomas Wheeler (1892-1974) including allegorical figures representing The Seven Seas which are located between panels of the memorial.

Image 10 to 16 shows Charles Wheeler's sculptures representing the Seven Seas that are located between the panels. [1]

Wheeler Wheeler Wheeler
Wheeler Wheeler Wheeler

Image 17 to 19 shows Charles Wheeler's sculptures at the entrance to the Memorial representing Officers and Men and a decorative ornament on top of a pillar. [1]

Wheeler Wheeler

Unveiling of the Memorial

The WW2 memorial was unveiled by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on 5 November 1955.

Image 2 is a cutting from The Times on 1 March 1955 announcing the unveiling. [3]

WW2 Memorial

Image 3 is a cutting from The Times on 7 November 1955 reporting the the unveiling. [3]

WW2 Memorial WW1 Memorial
WW1 Memorial 

Image 4 is a cutting from The Times on 7 November 1955 showing that the event was televised. Relatively few people would have had televisions at this time although there had been a boom in sales for the 1953 Coronation. [3]

WW2 Memorial

Images 5 and 6 Show the front and back of the invitation ticket sent to the widow of John Baxter who lost his life on Empire Surf. I am grateful to his relatives for providing this. [2]

WW2 Memorial WW2 Memorial

General Views of the Memorial

Image 8 shows a view looking over the site from North-West to South-East with the Tower of London in the background. [1]

Towards the Tower of London

Image 9 shows another view to the South-East. There were many poppy wreaths at the memorial from the recent ceremony. [1]

View to South East

Memorial Panels

This site contains a large number of photos of panels. This includes photos of entire panels and photos for each ship or other entry. Click on one of the links below to find the panel or ship you are interested in. Note there is also an 'Queries and Omissions' page that provides details of some of the known Queries about and omissions from the information displayed on the memorial.

Image Credits

  1. Photos by the Site Owner
  2. By courtesy Lesley Baxter
  3. By courtesy of The Times archive