Today I’ll share with you all the war memorials I saw on the second half of my recent trip to London- I hope you enjoyed the first half of this series, because this is more of the same yet different at the same time! One of my favourite areas of London is Kensington, but I’m ashamed to say that I never even noticed the first memorial in this post before. Located in front of St. Mary Abbots church at the corner of Kensington High and Kensington Church streets, there’s a dignified and beautiful stone memorial. It seems to have been initially built in honour of the men of Kensington killed in World War I; but as we now know, WWI was not the war to end all wars, and mention of World War II was added to the memorial later.
This memorial seemed to have an aura of tranquility about it, even amidst the chaos of the high street
As with nearly all the memorials I saw in London, this one still had a number of wreaths laid on it. As it should!
Another very compelling memorial (of sorts) was found on the HMS Belfast– in her sailing days, the Belfast was part of the Arctic convoys which kept the Soviet Union well-supplied during the war. These convoy routes were fraught with U-boats, fog, ice, and general danger; and they were important to the Soviet war effort. However, there seems to be a sad lack of recognition for both the military and merchant participation in these convoys. That lack fortunately doesn’t extend to the Belfast though, and there was a nice bilingual plaque onboard commemorating a project which was dedicated to the memory of all those who contributed to the Arctic convoys.
The HMS Belfast is a fitting last witness to this “heroic struggle”
Later on, upon crossing the Millennium Bridge, I saw another memorial which remembered another oft-forgotten side of the war. It was a memorial to the firefighters who died in the line of duty as they fought to contain the fiery aftermath of German bombing raids.
Tucked in beside a building and nearly in the shadow of St. Paul’s Cathedral, this memorial could be easy to miss– but I’m glad I noticed it!
I’d never even thought of the contributions made by firefighters during the Blitz, but they were certainly essential
Taking the bus in London is always a good idea– it might not be quicker than the Tube, but it’s a lot less crowded (usually); plus one gets to actually see things other than one’s fellow travellers. And taking the bus down Whitehall turned out to be a very wise choice for me, since I passed the Monument to the Women of World War II. I had no idea this memorial existed; but it resonated with me since if I had lived in wartime England, I would have had one of the jobs represented on the monument.
This is a relatively new memorial, only unveiled in 2005. I’m glad that the undeniable contribution of women in WWII has been recognized!
The final memorial I saw was also previously unknown to me, and it was hardly a unique or showy one. But it was everything I think a war memorial should be: dignified, understated, and proud. It was a simple stone cross in the middle of Sloane Square, and it truly seemed to anchor the square and all the surroundings. That’s a very moving metaphor to me, since war memorials honour the sacrifices upon which our free and prosperous societies are built.
Sometimes the simplest memorials are the most beautiful. This one reminds me of the unadorned crosses which mark the graves of so many thousands in war cemeteries across the world.