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On original site
- Metal Bronze
- Stone Portland stone
Inscribed on a plaque
- First World War (1914-1918)
- Second World War (1939-1945)
About the memorial:
Commonwealth War Graves Commission memorial - full details in Links section.
War memorial, standing on Southsea Common, overlooking the promenade, and the sea beyond. Unveiled in 1924, the First World War memorial was designed by Sir Robert Lorimer with sculpture by Henry Poole. The Second World War extension, unveiled in 1953, was designed by Sir Edward Maufe, with sculpture by Charles Wheeler, William McMillan, and Esmond Burton.
MATERIALS: Portland stone ashlar, with large copper sphere and bronze plaques.
DESCRIPTION: the memorial takes the form of a massive stone obelisk, with four ships’ prows projecting from the apex, inspired by the rostral columns erected to celebrate Roman naval victories. The obelisk rises from a stepped square base with corner projections, each projection supporting a lion couchant. Low down on each side of the obelisk is the naval badge of an anchor within a laurel wreath, surmounted by a naval crown. The apex of the obelisk is stepped inwards; above the branching ships’ prows, are bronze figures representing the four winds, who bear a large copper sphere representing the earth. Between the lions are bronze plaques: that to the south bears the inscription, ‘IN HONOUR OF THE NAVY / AND TO THE ABIDING MEMORY / OF THESE RANKS AND / RATINGS OF THIS PORT WHO LAID DOWN THEIR / LIVES IN THE DEFENCE OF THE EMPIRE AND / HAVE NO OTHER GRAVE THAN THE SEA / AND THEIR COMRADES OF AUSTRALIA / SOUTH AFRICA NEWFOUNDLAND INDIA PAKISTAN / CEYLON FIJI GOLD COAST HONG KONG KENYA / MALAYA NIGERIA SIERRA LEONE AND BURMA / WHOSE NAMES ARE HERE RECORDED’. The plaques to the other faces commemorate actions with enemy land forces, single ship actions, and general actions at sea (including Jutland); the plaques contain images of naval action in low relief. Around the base are plaques carrying the names of the dead; the names are arranged by the year of death, and within each year, by rank and role.
The Second World War extension takes the form of a sunken garden area enclosed by quadrant walls, to the landward (northern) side of the obelisk; a low wall to the north closes the space, with a wide opening. The inner faces of the walls are lined with bronze plaques bearing the names of those lost during the Second World War. Standing against the walls at the centre, beneath the obelisk, are sculptural figures depicting two sailors on watch: a Royal Marine and a member of the maritime regiment of the Royal Artillery, both wearing duffel coats and holding binoculars; these are replacements of 2002, the original figures having become overly weathered. Between the figures is a stone plaque with a naval crown and the inscription, ‘1914-1918 1939-1945 / ALL THESE WERE HONOURED IN THEIR GENERATIONS / AND WERE THE GLORY OF THEIR TIMES’. A short balustrade section creates a view to the promenade to east and west. At the end of each wall is a shelter, set parallel to the promenade, reached from the obelisk area by steps following the curve of the walls; each shelter has an Ionic columned opening to the south. The shelters have copper barrel-vaulted roofs, and each has an entrance to the enclosure, with carving to the segmental tympanum above; Pegasus is carved in the outward-facing tympana; to the inward-facing tympana is a badge with two dolphins clasped to an anchor by a naval crown. There are three windows to the north sides of the shelters, and a single window to the ends. Inside, over the doors, are boys with dolphins, possibly Palaemon, protector of sailors and fishermen. To the south of each shelter, standing within the enclosure at the end of the curved walls, is another sailor. At the centre of the enclosure is a flower bed. Facing north are two pairs of tall piers, each pair surmounted by a lion and a unicorn. Low walls curve from the outer ends of the shelters, marking the edges of steps leading upwards to the obelisk; the walls turn to enclose the obelisk area. Stone paving surrounds the obelisk, and forms paths within the garden enclosure.
c Historic England listing entry