This research would, we believe, fall into two main areas, firstly, the background to the Memorial itself - its inception, design, construction and siting, and, secondly, the identity and background, including the service records, of those commemorated. Both areas are equally valid in terms of local history, though family historians are, naturally, more likely to be interested in the people behind the names.
Readers are invited to submit comments on, and suggest additions to, the material by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org Entering guidance notes in the subject line of the message. This remains very much a “work in progress” and improvements will continue to be sought. In particular, the additional sources of information related to casualties from the Second World War, and subsequent conflicts, are being developed.
Researching the names on a War Memorial is probably getting easier as more and more books are published on different aspects of military and naval research, and as an increasing number of records are being made accessible on-line. While the trend for the greater availability of digital information, either in the form of the documents themselves, or searchable indexes, is of obvious benefit, it should not obscure the fact that, somewhere along the line of your research you will probably have to do more than sit at a computer. It will never be possible to digitise all records and at some point you will need to visit a library or an archive repository and turn the pages of a real book or document.
War Memorials -What can be found out?
When was the War Memorial built and dedicated? Some Memorials were dedicated before the end of the First World War.
Have there been any additions to the memorial? Such as World War 2 names or other conflicts since or omissions and corrections.
Dates of re-dedication/s, addition/s?
Where is the location of the War Memorial? Why was it located where it is?
Who owned the land or was there a special significance to the location allocated.
Is this the original location? Has it been moved to a new location, if so, why and when?
Design and Materials
What materials were used in the construction?
Is there a local reason why this design was chosen?
Who designed and / or made it?
What are the inscriptions on the Memorial?
Which quotation/s was used?
Which conflicts are commemorated?
Are there names?
What is recorded? Initials or forenames, ranks, regiments, date of death?
How are names displayed? -Alphabetically, by rank, Regiment or by Regiment precedence, which War, which other criteria?
Which names are actually recorded on the Memorial?
Does the Memorial include those who served?
Who headed the campaign to erect or create the War Memorial?
Who contributed to the funds?
Who unveiled or dedicated the War Memorial?
Who was at the dedication?
Who is the custodian of the War Memorial?
Who maintains it?
What is the condition of the Memorial?
Has there ever been any restoration work carried out on the memorial in its history?
Is it a ‘Listed’ Memorial? Has it been designated a Grade I or Grade 2 by English Heritage?
Carrying out the research
Sources for information are usually locally based, each community made the decisions about its own War Memorial. Check the NEWMP web site to find what is known already about the War Memorial and which sources have been recorded (if any).
These are primary sources of information about the local War Memorial. There are fundraising events, reports of meetings and requests for names and details to be included. There is usually a detailed description of the ceremony as well as photos of the Memorial including the unveiling, Dedication details, list of names etc. and sometimes listing of the people who were present. However, the newspaper reports are not fool proof, spelling and transcription errors are common place, and some reports do not give a full listing of the names.
All newspapers are being archived by the British Newspaper archive site.
However, very few local newspapers have been scanned at this present time (2014) and microfilm copies will probably have to be used.
Here is a list of Local Newspapers that were produced in the North East and current location of copies.
- • Alnwick Mercury-British Newspaper Archive Library.
• Auckland Chronicle - Durham County Record Office
• Berwick on Tweed- Berwick Advertiser
• Chester-le-Street Chronicle - Gateshead Library, Chester-le-Street Heritage Group have 1913,1914,1915, 1916, 1917 and 1918,for sale see website Heritage Group for details.
• Consett Guardian - Durham County Record Office
• Darlington and Stockton Times - Darlington Library
• Durham Chronicle and County Gazette - Durham County Record Office
• Durham County Advertiser - Durham County Record Office
• Evening Chronicle - Newcastle Central Library
• Illustrated Chronicle - Newcastle Central Library
• Morpeth Herald-British Newspaper Archive Library.
• Newcastle Daily Chronicle - Newcastle Central Library
• Newcastle Journal - Newcastle Central Library
• Newcastle Weekly Chronicle - Newcastle Central Library
• North Mail - Newcastle Central Library
• North Star - Darlington Library
• Northern Daily Mail and South Durham Herald - Hartlepool Library
• Northern Echo - Darlington Library
• Shields Daily Gazette - South Tyneside Library
• Stanley News - Durham County Record Office
• Sunderland Daily Echo - Sunderland Library
• Teesdale Mercury - On line archive at 1854-1954.
• Shields Daily News- North Shields Library
• Whitley Seaside Chronicle- North Shields Library
• Visitors Gazette’ -North Shields Library
• Whitley Bay Observer - British Newspaper Archive Library – Sept 1919 to Dec 1922
These local resource centres should hold information about local War Memorials or records which have a connection to War Memorials. However, the archive offices do not always index their holdings under War Memorials or related headings.
They usually have general headings, e.g. Correspondence relating to St Mary’s Church. Searching on line using War Memorial, Roll of Honour, Cenotaph or World War 1 and 2 usually locates some items.
The best way is to find the notes or correspondence or even minutes of the church/organisations which have been discovered in your initial research. Company magazines and (potted) histories of local organisations or social groups can also be good additional sources.
Popular postcard/photograph local history books often include sections on life during the Wars and local Memorials.
If a War Memorial is located in the Parish Church or in the church grounds/ graveyard there should have been a faculty from the Diocese which sometimes gives further information. These have often been deposited at Record Offices. Church Magazines are a good source. Clergymen have often retained Dedication leaflets in the Church records.
Non-Conformist Churches do not have to ask permission to add to or alter their buildings. However some Trustees and Society minutes have survived which may mention War Memorials.
Other groups would have had committee minutes but these have rarely survived. Most Head Teachers completed a daily or weekly Log Book which may detail War Memorials.
School and Company magazines also have additional information.
The architects who designed the Memorials can also be a source, especially their notebooks/sketches or plans.
The records of local stone masons are also a good source of additional information.
Local dignitaries also may have deposited their papers or personal letters, diaries etc. these could also provide further information.
Some resource material includes photographs. Please always get permission to use photographs and please credit the source.
Local Council Minute Books
The council member to be in attendance or invited to a dedication ceremony or a presentation may be recorded in the Minutes as well as other additional information about the War Memorial and the dedication ceremony.
There were 234 libraries in the North East, visited by 14 million people a year.
Below is a list of some of the libraries in the North East area.
North Tyneside Libraries
Redcar and Cleveland Libraries
South Tyneside Libraries
Use the NEWMP website for further additional links, to other local sources such as Newspaper articles, books and other Websites which may also help with research.
When you are finished your research, please send NEWMP any additional information, sources, other details and photographs.
Outside the North East area the War Memorial Archive (formerly the United Kingdom National Inventory of War Memorials) searchable database would find your information useful, this is being maintained by the Imperial War Museum and covers the whole of the country.
See also WMT.
Advice about existing War Memorials, including funding, further resources and updated help sheets can be found at the War Memorials Trust.
The Trust is the only charity which funds EXISTING War memorials and renovation or repair work. War Memorials Trust.
If you have concerns or require help and advice about your War Memorial and further guidance, there is a full range of help sheets to help and guide you. Essential reading if you are proposing to renovate or move or repair your existing War Memorial.
Researching Names on the War Memorial
Please check with NEWMP to see if the names on your War Memorial have been researched already, or are being researched.
When a War Memorial was first proposed certain local decisions were made about who was to be included or recorded on the Memorial. The names to be included on Memorials in Schools, Clubs, and Workplaces were easily established and were self-limiting. However for village, town or city memorials it was a more difficult decision.
Also, there is no law in the land which says that a name has to be on a War Memorial!
The criteria can vary:
• Only those born in the town or in the parish.
• Armed Forces – Army, Navy, RAF, and including Merchant Navy?
• Civilians killed by Enemy Action?
• Residents of the town or village at the time of their death?,
• Families’ wishes, not everyone wanted their relative’s name on the memorial.
• Were those who served, to be included, or were casualties to be included?
If you know the criteria used when the War Memorial was first inaugurated, it will help you to understand the original intent of the Memorial Committee.
If the person you are seeking is deceased, it is usually easier to trace.
Census records on line.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission
This site has been further enhanced with additional paperwork associated with the burial and original Grave location reports. www.cwgc.org.
This site which again has been recently updated records all Commonwealth war dead from the First and Second World Wars. You can locate their grave or memorial, and sometimes the next of kin details are available. Please note every family/relative was offered a headstone where possible, sometimes the offer was not accepted, and the family/relative wished for their own remembrance family plot or headstone.
In 1917 the, then Imperial, War Graves Commission (now CWGC) was established and was made responsible for marking and maintaining the graves of British war casualties, to build memorials of those with no known grave, and to keep records and registers. The principles upon which the Commission worked were: each of the dead should be commemorated individually by name on a headstone (for identifiable remains buried in a cemetery) or memorial (where there are no identifiable remains); the headstones and memorials should be permanent; the headstones should be uniform, with no distinction made on grounds of rank, race or creed. The Commission has information about personnel in all the armed services who died between 4th August 1914 and 31st August 1921 and 3rd September 1939 and 31st December 1947.
The search can be undertaken on surname and initials, though only one search field is required, (not forename), also you can enter the Regiment or unit that they may have served in. Search by date of the casualtiy as well as cemetery if known.
Only 65% of the casualties have next of kin recorded, because not all the ‘Final Verification’ forms sent to the last known address of a casualty’s next of kin were returned. But the availability of the Census or the service record may provide further clues to the rest of the family members or next of kin.
Soldiers Died in the Great War
Soldiers Died consisting of 80 volumes is also available in a CD from Naval and Military Press. Parts of the Soldiers Died records are available on Find My Past. But be aware there are transcription errors.
Information provided is:
name, rank, service number (except for officers), unit in which they served, date of death, new information: place of birth (except for officers), place of enlistment (except for officers), place of residence (except for officers), mode of death, other units in which they served, and miscellaneous information, which can include decorations (there is a specific ‘decorations’ field in the officers section).
For army casualties in World War II the equivalent CD is ‘Army Roll of Honour - World War II’. Royal Navy and Royal Air Force casualties are not covered on either CD. If you require WW2 service records or details you need to contact the Ministry of defence.