Advertisements

Tag Archives: War Memorial

WWI 100: London’s Memorials… The Imperial Camel Corps

ww1-london-memorials-logo

Of the many WWI memorials in London, one of the more unusual is that of the Imperial Camel Corps which can be found close to the Thames in Victoria Embankment Gardens.

The Imperial Camel Corps Memorial, Victoria Embankment Gardens

The Imperial Camel Corps Memorial, Victoria Embankment Gardens

Raised in December 1916 the Camel Corps was, unsurprisingly, established for desert warfare.

Troops in the desert

Troops in the desert

The first men to join the Corps were Australian troops, recently returned from the hellish Gallipoli campaign. The Aussies were soon joined by comrades from Britain, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Singapore and India.

Band of Brothers: Imperial Camel Corps troops from Britain, New Zealand, Australia and India

Band of Brothers: Imperial Camel Corps troops from Australia, Britain, New Zealand nd India (image: Imperial War Museum)

At its height the Corps, which fought in numerous campaigns throughout the Middle East, comprised of 4,150 men and 4,800 camels. Thanks to their humped steeds, the soldiers were able to travel long distances across remote desert terrain, carrying machine guns, mountain artillery and medical support.

An Australian soldier with his loaded camel

An Australian soldier with his loaded camel

346 troops from the Imperial Camel Corps lost their lives.

The small memorial, which was sculpted by Major Cecil Brown who himself had served with the Corps, was unveiled in July 1921 in the presence of the Prime Ministers of Australia and New Zealand. The statue is now grade II listed.

The unveiling, July 1921 (image: Manchester Guardian)

The unveiling, July 1921 (image: Manchester Guardian)

A gallery featuring images of the Imperial Camel Corps Memorial can be viewed below:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

*

Advertisements

WWI 100: London’s Memorials… The London Troop Monument

ww1-london-memorials-logo

The London Troops Monument

The Royal Exchange

The London Memorial (aka the London Troops Memorial) outside the Royal Exchange

The London Memorial (aka the London Troops Monument) outside the Royal Exchange

It is estimated that around 900,000 men from London fought in the Great War, approximately 300,000 of who were killed or injured.

Recruiting office at Great Scotland Yard, August 1914

Recruiting office at Great Scotland Yard, August 1914

Standing outside the Royal Exchange in the heart of the financial district, the ‘London Memorial’ lists all of the regiments from the capital involved in the horrendous conflict and commemorates the countless Londoners who lost their lives.

The London Memorial (aka the London Troops Monument) as seen looking towards Bank junction

The London Memorial as seen looking towards Bank junction

The memorial’s Portland stone plinth was designed by the then President of the Royal Academy, Sir Aston Webb (who was also responsible for Admiralty Arch and the Queen Victoria Memorial outside Buckingham Palace), whilst the two figures standing either side were created by Alfred Drury.

One of Alfred Drury's life-sized figures

One of Alfred Drury’s life-sized figures

The memorial is topped with a small lion, bearing a shield adorned with St George and the Dragon.

The memorial's lion figurehead

The memorial’s lion figurehead

The memorial is Sir Aston Webb’s second design– his first idea was quite different, consisting of two 75 ft. tall flag poles at the base of which would have been statues of Victory and Peace.

Sir Aston Webb, chief architect behind the London Memorial

Sir Aston Webb, chief architect behind the London Memorial

Costing £7,000 (around £150,000 in today’s money), the monument was funded by public donations.

In order to make room for the memorial, a fountain topped by a statue of Temperance- which had been on the site since 1861 after being presented by the philanthropist, Samuel Gurney, required removal. It was relocated and can be seen today at the northern end of Blackfriars Bridge.

The fountain which once stood outside the Royal Exchange and was relocated to make way for the London Memorial

The fountain at Blackfriars which once stood outside the Royal Exchange and was relocated to make way for the London Memorial (image: Geograph)

The London Troops Memorial was unveiled in foggy conditions on the afternoon of the 12th November 1920 by the Duke of York who was accompanied by the Lord Mayor and the Bishop of London.

The London Memorial on Armistice Day in 1937 (image: London Illustrated News)

The London Memorial on Armistice Day in 1937 (image: London Illustrated News)

The Duke of Connaught (the King’s Uncle) was also due to participate but had to bow out due to bronchitis. He sent a telegram which was read out at the ceremony;

While deeply regretting that I cannot unveil the memorial to London’s splendid soldiers, my thoughts and feelings are with you at today’s interesting occasion and I hope the memorial will always recall the gallant services rendered by London’s sons…”

Two young men contemplate the London Memorial, November 2014

Two young men contemplate the London Memorial, November 2014

*

WWI 100: London’s Memorials… Finsbury War Monument

WW1 London Memorials Logo

Finsbury War Monument

Spa Green, Rosebery Avenue

Just across the road from Saddler’s Wells Theatre on Rosebery Avenue is a small, pleasant park called Spa Green, a major feature of which is the Finsbury War Monument.

Finsbury War Memorial

Unveiled on the 15th September 1921 and costing £3,000 (approximately £88,000 in today’s money), the memorial was funded by donations from local residents to commemorate the men of the Metropolitan Borough of Finsbury who had fought and died in the Great War (Finsbury was abolished as administrative district in 1965 and now comes under the London Borough of Islington).

Finsbury War Monument at the time of its unveiling in 1921 (image: London Illustrated News)

Finsbury War Monument at the time of its unveiling in 1921 (image: London Illustrated News)

Because it is representative at a distinctly local level, the monument is unusual in that it commemorates all three branches of the armed forces as well as specific battles in which they fought.

The north-west side is dedicated to the Finsbury Rifles (the 11th London Regiment) who fought in France, Belgium, Gallipoli, Egypt, Palestine and Syria. A bronze plaque depicts their part in the Second Battle of Gaza which raged against the Ottoman Army for several days in April 1917.

The Second Battle of Gaza, as depicted on the Finsbury War Monument.

The Second Battle of Gaza, as depicted on the Finsbury War Monument.

Originally there were two other bronze reliefs depicting other battles attached to the plinth. Sadly, they were stolen many years ago and have been replaced with granite inscriptions.

On the north-east side, the navy are commemorated; “These are they that went down to the sea in ships and did business in great waters…”

Finsbury War Monument's naval dedication.

Finsbury War Monument’s naval dedication.

More specifically, the Zeebrugge Raid of April 23rd 1918, in which the Royal Navy attempted to block German access to the Belgian port, is commemorated. The raid resulted in the loss of 200 lives and saw 8 Victoria Crosses awarded.

Aerial view of the Zebrugge Raid aftermath (image: Wikipedia).

Aerial view of the Zebrugge Raid aftermath (image: Wikipedia).

Zebrugge Plaque

The south-east side of the memorial is dedicated to those who flew, fought and died in the Royal Flying Corps throughout the duration of the war. The granite plaque is aptly adorned with a little propeller set against a blue background.

Royal Flying Corps

Also commemorated on the south side are those of the Honourable Artillery Company who fought in Egypt, Palestine, Italy, Belgium, Aden and Syria. A third, smaller plaque was added at a later date in memory of those who died in WWII.

The large statue on top of the plinth is a representation of the Roman goddess, Victory and was sculpted by Thomas Rudge at his studio on Bolingbroke Grove, Wandsworth.

Victory

Today, Rudge’s sculpture appears to be a very popular spot for London’s pigeons whose gentle flapping and cooing is often the only sound to be heard in this solemn, peaceful place. 

Pigeons

* * *