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Welsh Memorials to the Great War

As well as the ‘official’ war memorials to the fallen that can be seen in public places around the towns and villages of Wales, thousands of memorials were dedicated to First World War servicemen by private institutions – chapels, workplaces, schools and clubs.
Roll of Honour presentation board - Tylorstown.

The Welsh Memorials to the Great War project is preserving the information that is on these memorials, and sharing images of them and any research that has been carried out into them. Many of these memorials have been lost as the workplaces and chapels have closed down and the schools have relocated; many of those that remain are vulnerable, and most are not included on the available databases of war memorials. 

The project is also exploring how the First World War impacted upon local communities. ‘Unofficial’ memorials commemorate the contribution of members of a select local group to the war, and they can tell us about both individual lives and the community’s involvement in the war. ‌

Another area of research is the study of the diverse reactions to the war and its different impact upon local communities. Gathering a range of memorials in one database will allow us to gauge how and why there were variations in the tone and scale of commemoration of the war. For example, some organisations (chapels, workplaces and schools) produced ornate Rolls of Honour to remember all who served, while others only had simple memorials to those who fell.

  • What factors might explain these different reactions?
  • Are there differences between memorials paid for by employers and those funded by the workers?
  • What are the differences in commemoration between organisations in coal mining / iron / tinplate / slate-quarrying / agricultural areas?
  • While most chapel memorials only list the men who served, some commemorate the contribution of women as nurses and munitions workers: what patterns can be seen here?
WW1 memorial outside the Roman Catholic Cathedral Church of St Joseph, Swansea.

The core output of the project will be a database of First World War memorials in Wales. We will share any information that has been gathered about the servicemen by local historians, schools and societies. We also have a series of blog articles on our website aimed at a general audience. 

Project lead: Gethin Matthews

Project duration: 2014-ongoing

Contact Gethin:

Follow the Project on Twitter @WelshMemorials