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Definition of a War Memorial

There is no legal or official definition of a war memorial but the organisations involved with them have developed notes for guidance. We have used the notes to develop our own version.

We consider a war memorial to be any tangible object which has been provided to commemorate:
  • any conflict or subsequent peace;
  • anyone killed as a result of conflict;
  • anyone who served in a conflict;
  • anyone who died in military service;
  • any civilian who died or suffered hardship as a result of conflict;
  • any animal which died or was engaged in miltary activities.
This definition is expanded by the interpretations given below. Even after applying these guidelines it is sometimes questionable whether or not a feature should be included. In such cases we apply a 'benefit of doubt rule' and include it on the grounds that it is better to record the details than lose them.

Anyone: any person, of any nationality

Animal: service, suffering and death of animals during wartime

Casualty: any military personnel, civilians or animals.

Civilian: anyone who is not a member of any armed forces, including refugees and internees, who suffered or died as a result of a conflict

Conflict: any war (whether or not formally declared), civil war, emergency, act of terrorism, uprising, rebellion, insurrection, conflict of any other status, or peacekeeping operations, or the impact of such conflicts or operations. Conflicts may be from any time in history to the present.

Died: killed in action, died of wounds received in action (including deaths after cessation of hostilities), died of illness or accident whilst on service whether during any conflict or during peacetime as well as deaths after the end of the service, whether or not related to a conflict.

Military service refers to service in any of the armed forces including territorial, volunteer or reservist units.

Peace: any cessation of hostilities, armistice or ceasefire, whether or not formally declared, or the safe return of individuals or military units, demobilisation, the coming of peace, the impact of peace, victory or the impact of victory, the prevention of war.

Provided: To be considered a memorial the object must have a clearly defined and stated commemorative purpose. This purpose can be expressed in the wording on, or the visual impact of, the memorial itself or in a printed document such as an unveiling order of service, a newspaper announcement or a council minute etc.

Served: was engaged in one of the formal armed services such as army, navy or air force, or in non-combatant services including the Merchant Marine Service, Red Cross, Home Guard, Air Raid Precautions, National Fire Service, munitions or armament production and delivery etc.

Tangible: you can touch it. A memorial service, a peal of bells or a charity run would not be counted as a war memorial, but a plaque recording such events would be counted.
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