Construction and Dedication of the WW2 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 similar 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 is about the construction and dedication of the memorial. To go directly to photos and details of casualties recorded on the memorial please click HERE.
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.
The proposed design was submitted and on 18 February 1952, The Times newspaper announced that the design had been approved. Note that the organisation that would become the Commonwealth War Graves Commission was known as the Imperial War Graves Commission at that time.
A dedication panel was erected between the two main entrances to the memorial and between Charles Wheeler's sculptures representing Officers and Men.
Sculptures by Charles Wheeler
In addition to the sculptures representing Officers and Men, the memorial is interspersed with representations of the seven seas and decorated ornaments.
The photos below give a feeling for the magnificent location of the Tower Hill memorials:
The WW2 memorial was unveiled by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on 5 November 1955.
The ceremony was also televised. Although there were relatively few people with televisions at the time, there had been an upsurge in ownership as a result of the Coronation in 1953.
Attendance was by invitation only. One of the attendees was the widow of John Baxter who had lost his life on Empire Surf. I am grateful to her relatives for providing these images of the front and back of the invitation card
- By courtesy of The Times 18 February 1952
- Photos by Brian Watson
- By courtesy of The Times 1 March 1955
- By courtesy of The Times 7 November 1955
- By courtesy of the family of John Baxter.