Royal Artillery Memorial

In the area where Wellington Arch is, there are a number of War Memorials, one of which is the Royal Artillery Memorial. I did not see this memorial at its best, in fact it was looking decidedly green when I was there.

Wellington Arch and the Memorials in the area

Neither was the weather very helpful on the occasions when I was taking photographs here. Even on the day I visited Wellington Arch I still could not get a sunny image of the memorial. However, World War 1 was not about sunny days, the all pervading view gained through black and white imagery is of cold and wet weather with gray leaden skies. Trying to imagine a battle like the Somme in colour would be almost impossible. Fortunately the sun did shine on me once.

The memorial is very rich in plaques, inscriptions and reliefs, but I think that the 4 bronze figures are what really make it stand out the most. In my opinion the most poignant of all is that of the fallen artilleryman. The inscription around the base reads “A Royal Fellowship of Death”.

This figure is especially moving, I could not resist touching that silent cold hand, and it made me very sad. Somehow the cold just reminded me of death at its most clinical. 
We have a similar figure at the Cenotaph in Durban, although I am sure his hand is warm to the touch. In the front of the memorial is the figure of the Driver, he seems to look down on passers by as if to ask them whether they are worthy of the sacrifice that was made.
The gun portrayed on the memorial is 9.2-inch Mk I howitzer, and it was described by Lord Curzon as “a toad squatting, which is about to spit fire out of its mouth…nothing more hideous could ever be conceived”.

There is a 9.2 inch Howitzer preserved at the Imperial War Museum that served in the First World War. More information on the weapon may be found at the relevant page.

It is an incredibly powerful memorial, and generated a lot of criticism by those who had not manned the guns or been in the trenches, but overall the old soldiers seemed to understand the message that it carried.

The memorial’s main inscription on the west and east faces reads

“IN PROUD REMEMBRANCE OF THE
FORTY NINE THOUSAND AND SEVENTY-SIX
OF ALL RANKS OF THE
ROYAL REGIMENT OF ARTILLERY
WHO GAVE THEIR LIVES FOR KING
AND COUNTRY IN THE GREAT WAR 1914-1918″

In 2009 an addition plaque as added to the many already there.

THIS PANEL WAS ADDED TO
COMMEMORATE THE 29,924 OF ALL
RANKS OF THE ROYAL ARTILLERY
WHO GAVE THEIR LIVES FOR THEIR KING
AND COUNTRY IN ALL PARTS OF THE
WORLD DURING THE WAR OF 1939-1945
+ THEY DIED WITH THE FAITH THAT
THE FUTURE OF ALL MANKIND WOULD
BENEFIT BY THEIR SACRIFICE. +
QUO FAS ET GLORIA

One of the many reliefs around the memorial

This memorial does not pull any punches, it is raw, emotional, and very powerful. It does not excuse itself or the men that are remembered here, and it does an excellent job of it too.

DRW © 2015 – 2021. Created 07/03/2015. Moved to Musings 31/01/2021

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