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The Cenotaph.....................cont

'The band of the Scots Guards at the Cenotaph on ANZAC Day 2003'

When originally designed, the only inscriptions were "THE GLORIOUS DEAD " on the western face and the dates MCMXIV (1914) and MCMXIX (1919) above the wreaths on the north and south faces. When Lutyens died on New Year's Day in 1944, he left word that should the Cenotaph be adopted as a national memorial also for the dead of the Second World War, it was his wish that nothing further should be added to the structure, other than the inscribing on it of the appropriate dates. At the commencement of the ceremony on 10th November 1946, King George VI unveiled the dates MCMXXXIX (1939) and MCMXLV (1945) which had been inscribed on the upper portions of the east and west faces.

At the end of the Second World War, the War Memorials Advisory Council headed by Admiral of the Fleet Lord Chatfield, mounted a campaign for a national memorial to the fallen of that war and sent out a questionnaire to its member organisations canvassing their opinion. Major General Sir Fabian Ware, founder of the Imperial War Graves Commission replied: 'My personal view is that new dates only should be added to the Cenotaph, and I should deprecate any competing monument or any structural addition to the Cenotaph (which would be aesthetically unpardonable). At the same time, it seems to me almost impossible to pick out a beneficient object which would command universal assent'. [24] This reply from 'the Great Commemorator' was sufficient to end the campaign to erect another national war memorial in this form. Thus the Cenotaph became the symbol of the nation's loss for both World Wars. Apart from the national ceremony held there each November, at most weekends a ceremony of some kind will be taking place and as the passer-by will observe, it is bedecked with wreaths all year round. It is cleaned every fortnight and wreaths are removed after the same period.

[24] Royal Society of Arts archive Ref PR.GE/117/10/14.




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