Welcome to the South Cambridgeshire war memorials archive, which lists over 200 memorials from villages across the district, complete with photographs.
The archive was compiled following a district-wide study between 2002 and 2005, and the information was included in the UK National Inventory of War Memorials. A printed booklet has previously been available, but this is the first time that the archive has been made available online.
These pages have been designed to give more information about South Cambridgeshire's war memorials, and about war memorials in general. Links to other websites are included at the bottom of this page.
Visiting South Cambridgeshire war memorials
Each memorial listing includes a map grid reference and street or place reference to help in locating the memorial. Where memorials are in buildings or on private or Ministry of Defence (MOD) land, you may need permission and an appointment to visit them.
Adding memorials to the archive
This archive is by no means a definitive listing. If you know of a memorial that is not included, or where the details may have changed, please contact the Historic Building Officer on 03450 455 216 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Conserving war memorials
Parish councils and other organisations that take an active interest in the care and repair of local memorials are very welcome to contact the Historic Building Officer on 03450 455 216 or email@example.com for more information on maintenance, grant funding bodies and other sources of help.
Printed copies of the archive
Printed copies are available on request from the Historic Building Officer 03450 455 216 or firstname.lastname@example.org at a cost of £10 per copy, including postage and packing.
More information about war memorials
What are war memorials?
The Imperial War Museum's definition of the purpose of a war memorial is:
To reunite those who were separated by a conflict, who left their homes, colleagues and friends or served in a war, many whose bodies were never recovered or who were buried overseas.
War memorials represent a unique social, historic and artistic record, celebrating and commemorating the endeavours of South Cambridgeshire residents and international forces who were stationed here. They act as a focus for remembrance and are an important part of our local heritage.
Why do we have war memorials?
Memorials were erected in great numbers for the first time after the First World War. It was the first time that ordinary citizens had joined the armed forces in vast numbers, with such great loss of life. Over three quarters of a million British subjects died in the First World War. There were few villages that did not suffer losses.
Most of those who died were buried where they fell, with many having no known grave. During and after the war, the repatriation of bodies was banned by all nations on the basis that the scale of losses were too high. This led to commemoration sites being set up close to or on battlefields by the Imperial (now Commonwealth) War Graves Commission.
Non-repatriation of the war dead was a highly unpopular decision, leaving families and friends without a focus for their grief. The need to express their loss led to calls for national monuments, which in turn led to the erection of at least one memorial in every village. Most were built after public fundraising, although some were erected by companies or funded by benefactors.
Why do memorials vary so much?
Following the First World War, there was no legislative direction given for the form of war memorials. Consequently, memorials come in a huge variety of types and mediums, ranging from stone crosses and wall plaques to stained glass windows and lych gates. The choice of materials, form and text was determined by each village.
After 1918, nearly every village and church, and many schools and businesses, erected Rolls of Honour and memorials to commemorate those who served and those who were lost, as a matter of civic pride.
The majority of memorials were dedicated between 1920 and 1922. Parish and public records often contain the service details, photos of the unveiling and information about the dignitary who presided over the event.
Most local memorials were later adapted to include the names of those who were killed in the Second World War. In most villages there are fewer names recorded than for the First World War, and in some villages there is no Second World War memorial. For many, the disappointment of such a conflict occurring after the 'war to end all wars' was too great, and there was less of a sense of urgency to erect such monuments. As a result, memorials dedicated to the Second World War are still being erected - in 2003 in Great Abington and 2005 in Horningsea for example.
Some South Cambridgeshire war memorials also include the names of those killed in later conflicts, for example the Korean, Falklands and Gulf wars.
Find out more
Local parish websites - many carry information about village war memorials or contain links to local history pages.
The War Memorials Trust - is a national charity that works for the protection and conservation of war memorials in the UK. It provides advice and information and runs a grant schemes for the repair and conservation of war memorials.
Roll of Honour - contains more detail about the names and background of many service personnel listed on war memorials both in the UK and across the world. The Cambridgeshire section includes information about many South Cambridgeshire memorials. The website is researched and collated by volunteers. Visit the Cambridgeshire pages here.