Every town, village and locality in Britain has one of these, as do many larger companies and organisations. War memorials were erected around the country after the end of World War I (which was of course The War To End All Wars) to commemorate those who died in the conflict and to give the relatives of those whose bodies were never found a focal point to remember their loved ones.

Most war memorials take the form of a simple obelisk and usually have the names of all those who died in service engraved around their base. Due to a failure to comprehend anything by world leaders, WWI was not of course the final chapter in human warfare, so most war memorials now have a second set of inscriptions, remembering those who died between 1939 and 1945.

Whatever your thoughts on war, the war memorials are sobering places. My home town had a population of less than 8,000 at the outbreak of the First World War, yet the memorial contains 237 names: local men who went off to Europe and never came back. It contains another 186 from the Second World War.

Every year on Armistice Day there are commemorative ceremonies at each war memorial, carried out by the British Legion, and poppy wreaths are laid down. The biggest ceremony, usually attended by the Queen and other VIPs is at The Cenotaph in Whitehall, central London, which is the largest of the war memorials.

Postscript: I originally claimed that The Cenotaph was the British equivalent of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, until spiregrain jogged my memory and reminded me that there is an official Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Westminster Abbey.

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