There are several public databases of war memorials, each with their own purpose and specialism. I will attempt to describe them and show the relationship, if any, between them. Efforts are increasingly being made to improve cross referencing between these databases, and to ensure that new or revised data is updated efficiently in all locations.
Imperial War Museum (IWM) War Memorials Register
The Imperial War Museum War Memorial Register, previously called the War Memorials Archive, and before that, the UK National Inventory of War Memorials, aims to compile a comprehensive national register of all memorials to members of the armed forces, civilians and animals, from all wars, and to those who died in service. Significantly it includes the names of the individuals commemorated on memorials. The register currently contains almost 70,000 UK War Memorials.
War Memorials Online (WMT)
The War Memorials Trust’s website, War Memorials Online www.warmemorialsonline.org.uk, is a crowdsourcing project to build a complete picture of the whereabouts, type and condition of all war memorials in the UK. It is run by the War Memorials Trust with the support of Historic England. It particularly seeks to identify war memorials which need repair and conservation. Information submitted to War Memorials Online is made available to the IWM’s War Memorials Archive, Historic Environment Records and other heritage bodies.
National Heritage List for England (NHLE)
The National Heritage List for England is drawn up by Historic England on behalf of the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport. It is the only official and up to date database of all nationally protected historic buildings and sites in England. The list includes Listed Buildings, Battlefields, Scheduled Monuments and Registered Parks and Gardens that are, or contain, war memorials. It does not include unlisted or non-designated war memorials. Historic England maintains alternative databases for this purpose. However, Historic England has a “presumption in favour of listing all war memorials” unless substantially altered or of minimal design interest. It aims to list 2500 memorials over the course of the WW1 Centenary. It shares its data with the Imperial War Museum and the War Memorials Trust.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC)
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission commemorates the men and women of the Commonwealth forces who died in the two world wars. The official CWGC war graves and cemeteries, the associated memorials within them, and the memorials to the missing, are listed on the website, together with the names of all those commemorated.
Find a Grave
Find a Grave at www.findagrave.com is a non-profit US company founded by Jim Tipton. It is now owned by Ancestry and forms part of the ‘Ancestry Community’ of internet resources. The website is free to use, and partially funded by advertising. Thousands of contributors submit new listings, updates, corrections, photographs and virtual flowers every hour. Many of the listings are war memorials.
Individual local authorities, in particular their archaeologists and conservation officers, may also hold records on individual war memorials.
Roll of Honour
Roll of Honour at www.roll-of-honour.com is a private website, sponsored by a handful of small businesses. The website owner is Martin Edwards. The information on the website is sourced from publically accessible databases supplemented with volunteer contributions. The site advises: “Currently we have a huge backlog of around 3,500+ memorials to put on-line and between 20,000-30,000 edits to existing memorials. This is a voluntarily run website and we are currently inundated due to the start of the centenary events marking the start of World War 1.”
War Memorials Online (not WMT)
War Memorials Online at www.war-memorial.co.uk (not the War Memorials Trust website) is a private website funded by subscriptions. The website developer has elected to keep their name private. As with Roll of Honour the information is sourced from publically accessible databases supplemented with volunteer contributions. It features over 20,000 detailed photographs of more than 1,200 memorials. All the names on the memorials are legible and the photographs are linked to databases of over 280,000 names. The Genealogist provides its members with access to this database.