Yesterday, on the 100th annivesary of the opening day of the battle of the Somme, I did a few tweets about Southampton’s Cenotaph. I thought I’d expand on that since I needed to put something on this new page!
It is thought there are around 52 ‘thankful villages’ in the UK, that is, a settlement which did not lose any men to the conflict of 1914-1918. Southampton, a large town at the time and designated No. 1 Military Embarkation Port was, of course, not so lucky.
The Cenotaph was unveiled in Watts Park on November 6th 1920 with a public ceremony and a two minute silence. It was designed by the architect Edwin Lutyens and the project cost £9,845.
Southampton’s Cenotaph was the first of its kind in the world, and five days later on the 11th the famous Cenotaph at Whitehall in London was unveiled. The Whitehall Cenotaph was also designed by Lutyens, and is effectively a simpler version of its Southampton counterpart. Both are equally as important in what they represent.
In 2011, eight glass panels were erected around the Cenotaph, in order to safeguard the names listed against wear and tear and weathering that happens over time. It also presented an opportunity to add more names of those who have lost their lives as a result of conflict.
The glass panels now display a total of 2,368 names from the First World War, 927 from the Second World War, and three from subsequent conflicts. Southampton men and women who gave their lives so that we might be free.
There is an interesting website that aims to commemorate those from Southampton who died in the World Wars: https://southamptoncenotaph.com/
Thanks for reading.