Before the Great War
RBR in action
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After the Great War
The Biscuit Boys
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission have the statutory duty to provide a memorial to every men who fell while serving in the two World Wars. This is either by a headstone over their grave, or by including the name upon an official memorial.
Until the Boer War most communities left it to families or friends to commemorate the fallen, although there is the Maiwand Memorial in Forbury Gardens, Reading which records men from the 66th Regiment who fell in the 2nd Afghhan War. By the time of the Boer War the association between regiment and county had become well understood and many communities felt the need to record the names of men from their area who had died.
Quite soon after the start of the Great War many churches and other institutions began posting a list of men from the area who were serving and marking these when his death was reported. The first type of memorial to emerge were Calvaries, usually erected in churchyards with a board upon which deaths could be recorded. When the war ended there was a movement to make the list permanent and a wide variety of memorials were provided, some with the names of all who served, the majority restricted only to those who had died and several where no names at all were recorded. These memorials were used as focuses for commemorative services on subsequent Armistice Days, whether on Remembrance Sunday or on November 11th, when poppy wreathes would be laid. The same process was repeated for the Second World War although in most cases it was just by adding an extra panel to a Great War Memorial and the tradition has been carried on for subsequent conflicts.
It should be noted that the appearance of a name on a memorial does not necessarily imply that the man came from the area as in the majority of cases local residents were asked to submit names and they often included relatives who had no connection with the area. Also many men who should have been included were omitted because there were no surviving relatives in the area.
Typically the area covered by the lists referred to a town or village, but many related to a school, a church congregation, a workplace, an organisation or a regiment. The list of such memorials in Berkshire can be found at Berkshire War Memorials
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