History

After the First World War, an appropriate way had to be found of commemorating those members of the Royal Navy who had no known grave, the majority of deaths having occurred at sea where no permanent memorial could be provided.

 

An Admiralty committee recommended that the three manning ports in Great Britain - Chatham, Plymouth and Portsmouth - should each have an identical memorial of unmistakable naval form, an obelisk, which would serve as a leading mark for shipping.

The memorial was unveiled by the Duke of York, the future George VI, on 15 October 1924. In 1916, the prince was serving as a Midshipman on HMS Collingwood during the Battle of Jutland.

 

After the Second World War it was decided that the naval memorials should be extended to provide space for commemorating the naval dead without graves of that war, but since the three sites were dissimilar, a different architectural treatment was required for each.

Names of those lost in the Second World War are recorded on panels set into the low walls of an enclosure added to the north, leading to a barrel-vaulted pavilion on each side. The extension was unveiled by the Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, on 29 April 1953.

Portsmouth Naval Memorial commemorates nearly 10,000 sailors of the First World War and almost 15,000 of the Second World War.

Among those commemorated at Portsmouth are most of the crew of HMS Bulwark, who died in 1914, and 127 men who lost their lives when the mine layer HMS Princess Irene exploded while anchored near Sheerness on 27 May 1915.