One of our favourite historical websites has embarked on a mission to record and transcribe the capital's war memorials. London Remembers is publishing a war memorial every day until the Friday before Remembrance Day, when the entire list of 36,000 war dead from the Tower Hill monuments will be added.
The site already includes 2,787 memorials around town — from blue plaques to statue labels to bench memorials — commemorating over 11,000 subjects. Rather than tracing their detailed histories, the site focuses on finding the memorials, photographing them, plotting them on a map and logging them into a searchable database, thus providing a powerful research tool. And all out of sheer historical, unfunded, academic interest.
Dozens of war memorials were already included on the site, which is now 10 years old. But this concerted effort to upload further records is a fitting and constructive way to mark the annual period of reflection around Remembrance Day. The task of recording these monuments in one database is particularly timely given the increase in metal theft from war memorials.
On Friday 9 November, the site will publish the complete register of the memorials on Tower Hill, which commemorate the men and women of the Merchant Navy and fishing fleets who died in the two world wars. The 36,000 names, ranks and the vessels they served on are already available online through the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, but this new development will see the records sit on the same searchable database as many smaller war memorials and other commemorations not available elsewhere.
We should also acknowledge our friends at Open Plaques, another excellent site recording memorials, which has slightly fewer entries for London, but is international and crowd-sourced.