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The War Memorial


Dedication Service 1922
The memorial in 2005
Outside the Council Offices 1960s

Statement from the Burton Latimer Branch, The Royal British Legion

Our fine War Memorial sited at "The Cross" on the High Street is a reminder to all who pass by of the sacrifice made by families of Burton Latimer in two world wars.

It records the names of 126 Burtonians who died. More than thirty of those listed from the First World War have no known grave, and so in our minds this memorial must represent their resting place and grave here in their home town.

Of the remainder only a handful are buried in Burton Latimer, not all marked with the Commonwealth War Graves stone. Of the rest, most lie in Flanders, but also further afield such as Italy, North Africa, and Palestine.

At our annual Remembrance Day Parade we are proud to join the town's organisations to lay wreaths as a sign of respect and remembrance to those who died, and thanksgiving for those who returned.

We will remember Them.

The War Memorial in Burton Latimer has had an unusual history in that it has been moved - twice! It was originally sited at what is known locally as "the Cross" - the junction of High Street, Church Street and Meeting Lane - a large open area at a focal point of the town, and one well suited for the erection of such an imposing memorial in 1922.

Click here to read the newspaper report of the dedication of the monument.

In 1962, improvements to the layout of the junction were necessary on the grounds of road safety (click here to read the newspaper account), and the memorial had to be moved. Local opinion was canvassed and the lawn outside the Council Offices was voted as the most appropriate location, though none of the locations suggested were deemed to be ideal (to read about the public meeting where this decision was made, click here). The memorial was carefully dismantled and reassembled in its new resting place with the final moments being captured by a photographer from the Evening Telegraph (click here to read the report).

Within twenty years the memorial was back at more or less its original location after further alterations were made to the High Street/Church Street junction. Careful examination of the photos above will show, however, that the statue on top of the memorial does not have the same orientation as it originally had when it was first erected at The Cross. However, one benefit of the double move has been that the memorial has been renovated twice, which accounts for it being in such good condition when compared with many others around the country.

War memorials were largely a result of a decision taken by Government in the First World War. As the death toll rose in the bloody battles on the Western Front, the War Office took the view in late 1914 that the dead should be buried close to the spot where they fell, rather than be brought home. With no body to bury and no grave close to hand, hundreds of thousands (by late 1918 - millions) of bereaved families had nowhere, no point of focus, to mourn their loved ones. War memorials, cenotaphs, plaques and other commemorative icons answered this need. They gradually proliferated all over Britain.

Lists of the names on the memorial can be accessed via the links below. A word of caution is necessary however: they are not definitive lists of Burton townsfolk killed in action in the two world wars. In some cases, families were given the choice of which town or village memorial would bear their loved one's name. There is also the issue of what would constitute a "Burton man". Some of the names on the memorial are of men born in Burton but who were living in other towns and villages before they went to war. Other names are those of men not born in Burton but who married Burton girls and moved to the town.

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