Project Briefing

The Anglo-Boer War Memorials Project was begun in March 1988 by Meurig Jones and Tony McCabe. This was the first national project to record war memorials in the UK.

The Project has three main aims :

  1. Record, catalogue and photograph all Anglo-Boer War memorials in the world.
  2. Build a list of all those named on the memorials.
  3. Encourage the preservation and study of Anglo-Boer War memorials.

There are three main reasons for this project :

  1. No comprehensive up-to date catalogue of Anglo-Boer War memorials exists. In 1911 Colonel Sir James Gildea published a catalogue of Anglo-Boer War memorials around the world.
  2. Some memorials, especially those outdoors, have been lost or are badly damaged due to weathering, vandalism and enemy action. Details of these memorials urgently need to be recorded.
  3. Memorials provide a wealth of information for historians, sociologists and genealogists. The data being compiled will provide a valuable new resource for their research.

All the information collected is entered onto a computer database, allowing the maximum flexibility in retrieval and analysis. Since the Project’s inception over 2021 memorials  have been recorded, mostly in the UK but including, Australia, Bermuda, Canada, Eire, New Zealand and Sri Lanka. More than 29000 names have been entered and cross referenced with the official casualty rolls. Over  200 Imperial and Colonial, regular and volunteer units are represented. Some memorials name those who served and returned safely, this information has never been collected before. All of the work of the Project is done by volunteers. 

The Project undertook a special commission for Hampshire County Council recording all the memorials in the county. Over 90 memorials have been recorded, an increase of 300% on  the total identified by Gildea in 1911.

Following the Project’s launch 1988 interest in war memorials in the UK exploded, in 1989 the Imperial War Museum set up the National Inventory of War Memorials. We were invited by the Inventory’s first co-ordinator, Catherine Moriarty, to share our experience in organising, recording and storing  information. Catherine is now Professor of Art and Design History at Brighton University. Eight years later, no doubt encouraged by the recording work done by this project and the NIWM, in 1997 the Friends of War Memorials was born; A charity dedicated to not just recording, but preserving war memorials in the UK. In 2004 they changed their name to the War Memorials Trust. The WMT also run the War Memorials Online website, which enables everyone to post pictures of war memorials and note their condition. If you take pictures of war memorials I urge you to post on War Memorials Online. In addition to the national bodies there has been a proliferation of local war memorial recording projects that feed into the NIWM and WMT. Many of these are on the links page, if yours is missing contact me.

The small resources of the ABWMP were quickly overshadowed by the NIWM and the WMT – no bad thing. The WMT has put thousands of pounds into restoring war memorials all over the UK. Their continued work means war memorials are now firmly part of the community across the country, with a dedicated band of volunteers.

The role of the ABWMP remains the same but is more focused on researching the names on the war memorials. War memorials are pretty inaccurate sources of information. We also “find” destroyed memorials, which by the fact they don’t exist aren’t recorded by the others.