Construction and Dedication of the WW1 Memorial
UK and Commonwealth Merchant Navy and fishing fleet losses in WW1 were very heavy and estimated at 15,500. Of these, 12,000 had no known graves and after the war it was decided to commemorate them on a memorial. Trinity Square Gardens was chosen as the site and work started on the memorial in 1927 and it was unveiled by Her Majesty Queen Mary on 12 December 1928. The land on which the memorial stands was "acquired in perpetuity" by an Act of Parliament for the Imperial (now Commonwealth) War Graves Commission.
This page is about the construction and dedication of the memorial. Click HERE to see images of the memorial and lists of those commemorated on it. Click HERE for information about the site before the construction of the WW1 Memorial.
Tower Hill in 1936
The Ordnance Survey Map for 1936 shows the WW1 memorial at the South end of Trinity Square Gardens.
The memorial in Trinity House Gardens was one of the major WW1 memorials designed by Sir Edwin Lanseer Lutyens (1869-1944) who also designed the Cenotaph in Whitehall, and the Thiepval Memorial to the "Missing of the Somme".
The memorial takes the form of a vaulted hall with plates with the names of members of the Merchant Navy and Fishing Fleets whose lives were lost in the war and who have 'no grave but the sea'. The names of the dead are arranged alphabetically under their ships with the name of the Master or Skipper (if it appears) first in each case. They are inscribed on bronze panels covering the piers that support the roof. No rank or rating other than Master or Skipper is indicated.
The memorial commemorates 11,919 names and bears the following Dedication:
TO THE GLORY OF GOD
AND TO THE HONOUR OF
TWELVE THOUSAND OF THE MERCHANT NAVY
AND FISHING FLEETS
WHO HAVE NO GRAVE BUT THE SEA
The photos below give a feeling for the simplicity and dignity of Lutyens design for the memorial.
The memorial was begun in 1927 and unveiled by Her Majesty Queen Mary on 12 December 1928.
- Photo by Brian Watson
- By courtesy of The Times 12 December 1928
- By courtesy of The Commonwealth War Graves Commission
- By courtesy of The Times 13 December 1928
- By courtesy of the National Library of Scotland