What is a war memorial?

A war memorial is any tangible object which has been erected or dedicated to commemorate war, conflict, victory or peace; or casualties who served in, were affected by or killed as a result of war, conflict or peacekeeping; or those who died as a result of accident or disease whilst engaged in military service.

War memorials take many forms including:

  • Freestanding Monuments such as sculpted figures, crosses, obelisks, cenotaphs or columns
  • Boards, plaques and tablets (which can be inside or outside buildings)
  • Rolls of honour or books of remembrance
  • Dedicated buildings that serve as community halls, hospitals, bus shelters, clock towers, streets, museums or galleries
  • Church fittings like bells, pews, lecterns, lighting, windows, altars, screens or candlesticks
  • Trophies and relics such as a preserved gun or the wreckage that remains at an aircraft crash site
  • Land, including parks, gardens, playing fields and woodland
  • Additions to gravestones (but not graves)
  • Musical Instruments

The War Memorials Register records

  • War memorials located in the UK, Channel Islands and Isle of Man
  • War memorials to conflicts from any point in history to the present day
  • War memorials that commemorate the impact or acts of war, conflict or victory
  • War memorials that record thanksgiving for the safe return of individuals, the coming of peace or the prevention of war
  • Dedications that have been added to other gravestones which commemorate a war casualty buried elsewhere
  • War memorials that commemorate the service, return or death of military personnel during war, conflict or peacetime irrespective of the cause of death, as well as deaths after the end of the conflict as a result of wounds or the effects of war
  • War memorials that commemorate the wartime service or death of civilians serving in non-combatant organisations
  • War memorials that commemorate civilians, including refugees and internees who suffered or died as a result of enemy action or in a war related accident as well as a consequence of war or conflict
  • War memorials to the service, suffering and death of animals during wartime

The War Memorials Register does not record

  • War memorials located outside the UK, Channel island and Isle of Man, even if they commemorate British citizens
  • Headstones or grave-markers marking the place of burial of an individual or group of people killed as a result of war or conflict
  • Houses, buildings or artefacts (e.g. medals) associated with people who died, served or suffered in war but which have no dedication as a memorial to that wartime experience
  • Plaques, badges, medals or symbols recognising the existence of military units solely as units but not representing their active service or a war/conflict role
  • Commemorations to those who had once served in the armed forces or in a civilian non-combatant organisation during wartime but whose death occurred subsequently and was not a result of their service
  • Dedication plaques marking wartime non-military campaigns or activities
  • Memorials, plaques, badges or symbols at the birthplace, home or to the life of a well-known individual not dedicated to their wartime service
  • Published or mass produced rolls of honour
  • Individual horticultural elements within a larger horticulture setting such as a garden or arboretum
  • Official items such as Next of Kin Memorial Plaques (known as Dead Man’s Pennies), scrolls or service medals


  • Animals

    The War Memorials Register lists commemorations of animals which were killed or gave assistance or companionship, in war or conflict. Memorials represent the diversity of people’s experiences of war and conflict and this includes their wish to commemorate the role of animals

  • Casualty

    The War Memorials Register uses casualty to refer to military personnel, civilians or animals.

  • Civilians

    The War Memorials Register defines civilians as:

    People who served in wartime non-combatant services including, but not exclusive to, Merchant Marine Service, Red Cross, Home Guard, Air Raid Wardens, Fire Watchers and similar groups involved with a war effort. 


    People whose death occurred as a result of enemy action or in a war-related accident as well as a consequence of war or conflict.

  • Dedicated or erected

    To be considered a memorial for the Register an object must have a clearly defined and stated commemorative purpose. This purpose can be expressed in the wording on the memorial itself or in a printed document, or it might be a newspaper announcement. A formal unveiling ceremony need not have taken place, although these are very common.

  • Individual horticultural elements

    Where specific planting of trees, hedging or flowers has taken place to form a memorial garden or arboretum, the War Memorials Register records the memorial as a whole. For example an avenue of trees will be recorded as a single memorial even if each tree has a separate dedication. However, if a tree is planted in isolation to any other elements, for example it is a war memorial tree in a council park the individual tree will be recorded.

  • Military Service

    The War Memorials Register defines military service as service in any of the armed forces during war, conflict or peacetime and the subsequent return home as well as deaths after the end of the conflict as a result of wounds or the effects of war.

  • Published Roll of Honour

    The War Memorials Register includes unique objects such as handwritten or printed scrolls or illustrated books. Published rolls of honour where many copies were produced are not recorded.

  • War and Conflict

    The War Memorials Register accepts commemorations dedicated to events which are related to declared states of war, armed conflict, civil war, rebellion and acts of terrorism. The Register does not make any judgment on conflict, nor promotes any political or other viewpoint associated with either specific conflicts or the general principle of conflict.