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War Memorials

Until the 20th century, commemoration of men killed in battle was primarily defined by personal wealth, position and influence. The death in battle of the private soldier was largely unmarked. The deaths of an estimated 3,500 volunteers in the Boer War led to changes in commemoration, as it became necessary to remember those who died not only as soldiers but also as citizens.

Of the 700,000 British servicemen who lost their lives in the First World War, 35,000 are listed in the Welsh Book of Remembrance.

The decision taken in 1915 to ban the repatriation of bodies from the battlefield had far reaching consequences in the commemoration process. The many hundreds of local war memorials across Wales reflected the desire for an immediate and permanent reminder of the dead, as communities sought public acknowledgement for their loss.

Inscriptions on memorials invoke ideals of honour, sacrifice and loyalty, and are often expressed in Welsh and English, or as at Swansea, in Latin. The Second World War prompted a new ear of commemoration.

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