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Memorials To Britain's Navy War Dead Given Top Heritage Listing

27 May 2016

Three magnificent Commonwealth War Grave Commission memorials, commemorating the Royal Navy's sacrifice in two world wars, have been given Grade I listed status by Historic England, the body charged with protecting Britain's built heritage.

The three memorials, at Chatham, Portsmouth and Plymouth, were built in the 1920's, and have been maintained to the highest standards ever since. The decision to build them marked a radical new departure in the way Britain commemorated its Naval dead.

"No grave but the sea"

Traditionally those who died serving in the Royal Navy either went down with their ships or were given a sailor's burial at sea. After the First World War, the Admiralty and the CWGC decided that those with no known grave should be commemorated on land. The Royal Navy's traditional ports at Chatham, Plymouth and Portsmouth were the most appropriate sites for the memorials. The Commission's architect, Sir Robert Lorimer, created monuments in the form of three identical obelisks, of "unmistakable naval form" to act as marks to shipping. Striking sculptures by Henry Poole were created for each site.

Victoria Wallace, Director General of the CWGC, said:

"We are delighted that these beautiful and significant memorials have been given the highest heritage protection. The Commission is grateful to Historic England for recognising the architectural excellence of the three monuments, as well as their importance in remembering the Royal Navy's war dead. The memorials have become much-loved local landmarks. We are determined that more people should know of the memorials and visit them."

Marking the anniversary of Jutland

Events to mark the centenary of the Battle of Jutland will be held at the Naval memorials at Plymouth, Portsmouth, and Chatham on Tuesday 31 May. There will be parades of Royal Navy personnel and bands from the Royal Marines. All the events are open to the public and full details can be found at