South East Schools’ First World War Project - Article 5

[Click on SPOT to view Articles 1-4 in this series]

Planning a Local War Memorial Project

including details about the Sussex Recording Remembrance War Memorials Project


"A local War Memorials project is a unique opportunity for pupils of all ages to develop their historical understanding and a range of skills including research, literacy and ICT."

There are over 100,000 War Memorials in the United Kingdom that were commissioned and erected in the 20th Century to remember the soldiers who died during the First and Second World Wars.

This year, as we commemorate the events of 1914-1918, many pupils from schools across the region will visit a local Memorial in their town or village.  A visit to a War Memorial is an excellent opportunity for learners of all ages to become "history detectives" and use a range of primary and secondary sources to find answers to some of the questions listed below.

  • Investigate and discover who from your local community fought in the First World War.
  • Find out what it was like growing up in your locality at the start of the 20th Century.
  • Use census and parish records to research the early lives of soldiers listed on the War Memorial.
  • Create a family tree for one of the soldiers listed on your local War Memorial. Were any other members of his family killed in the First World War?
  • Use military databases and service records to research the service history of a World War I soldier.
  • Research and find out who commissioned the building of your community and other local War Memorials.

Planning a Local War Memorial Topic - Useful web based resources to support project planning.

To help you get started there are many websites to support schools and teachers plan a Local War Memorial project.  These range from web sites listing the addresses and location of War Memorials in your local area to those that display teaching and learning resources (photo collections, archive film, census and war grave records), as well as others that provide detailed information about who was responsible for designing and building your town and other Memorials across the region.

Popular websites include:

1. War Memorials Online

Pupils can search the United Kingdom Memorials website database to locate all known War Memorials in the area around their school.  Details about Private Memorials (those located in the grounds of a private house or church) can also be uploaded and added to the national online database by your pupils.

2. War Memorials Trust 

Stored on the Trust's website is an extensive selection of Teaching & Learning resources including Assembly and Lesson plans, plus Help and Visit Worksheets for primary and secondary.  All are available as PDFs, together with an accompanying Microsoft PowerPoint presentation for pupils to view and read.

Resources found on the website include:



What is remembrance?

How can my pupils identify the different types of War Memorials built after WW1?

What are War Memorials?

What can we do today to take care of our local War Memorials?

Visiting a War Memorial

Plan a visit to a War Memorial

Why are War Memorials important?

How can we research the lives of soldiers listed on a War Memorial?

What can we learn from War Memorials?

Secondary Showcase - Examples of UK Schools' War Memorial projects

What can names on a local War Memorial tell us about the past?

How can our school upload and publish our War Memorial project?

3. Imperial War Museum Remembrance Teaching & Learning Resources

The resources (including photos, a PowerPoint and text documents) on this website explain how war deaths were recorded at the start of the war and the actions the British, French and Commonwealth Governments took later in the war to remember the many servicemen that died across Northern Europe and Macedonia.

Other resources examine the attitude of communities in Britain at the end of the war towards honouring the war dead, and how changing public opinion led to the British Government in 1923 introducing an Act that gave Councils the authority to levy a small rate towards the cost and maintenance of Local War Memorials.

4. Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) 

Stored on the CWGC website are the names of over 1.7 million British and Commonwealth soldiers who died in the First and Second World Wars.  To display the details of any soldier whose name is displayed on your Local War Memorial pupils just need to enter the name of the soldier and the war that they fought in.  A search of the CWGC database will then display the following information:

Name              Rank             Service Number       Date of Death           Age

Regiment        Service           Grave Ref. No.        Cemetery                 Documents:

In addition to displaying on screen the above information, pupils will also have the option to print an A4 certificate that records where that soldier died and is buried and also lists their last known UK address.  This information can be then used by pupils to research the soldiers family tree and early life before they joined the army.

5. British Pathe - War Memorials Archive Film 

Over 50 archives films about British War Memorials are stored on the British Pathé website.  Dating back to the early 1920s, the films record some of the civic ceremonies that took place when the monuments were unveiled and early services of Remembrance.

Please note:  Low resolution copies of the films can be viewed on the website at no charge.  However, schools requesting to download a higher resolution copy will be billed.

Researching the lives of First World war servicemen listed on your local War Memorial

6. The National Archives Records Collection

Stored on the National Archives website are small samples of First World War; Navy, Air Force and Marine records.  In total, just over 5% of each collection has been digitised and made available to view and download online.  Schools wishing to download service records not found in the online collections can request photocopies of any existing documents.  Please note there is a charge for this service.

7. Forces War Records

Between 6 - 7 million men served in the First World War. Despite many of these records being destroyed by enemy bombers in 1940, about 2 million records remain.  Most that survived have been digitised and can be found on the Forces War Records database.

Access to a soldier's WW1 service records will provide a good deal of personal and family information about a particular individual.  This will include date of birth, next of kin, date and place of marriage, pre-army occupations as well as Attestation Forms, Discharge Papers, Medical Records and WW1 Medal Roll Index cards.

8. Find My Past and 

Using census data

Both the Find My Past and databases hold census data for the United Kingdom covering the period from 1841 to 1911.  Pupils with access to either of these sites can search the records to create a family tree and to find out where servicemen listed on their local war memorials lived prior to 1914.

There is usually a charge to access these records but in most Local Authorities across the south-east members of the public who possess a county council library card can access these records free online in any public library.

Recording Remembrance: The Sussex War Memorials Project    

This project is being run by East Sussex and West Sussex County Councils and is part of a wider project being undertaken by councils in many local authorities across the United Kingdom.  It is an opportunity for schools and pupils in East and West Sussex and Brighton & Hove to gather information about Local War Memorials and upload and add this information to the county War Memorials database that is being managed by the East Sussex Historic Environment Record Team.

Aims of the Project:

The aim of the project is to:

  • Enhance the Imperial War Museum's archive, ensuring that there is a lasting record of the war memorials detailing their inscriptions, locations and condition.
  • Add data to the East and West Sussex Historic Environment Records Collection to ensure that the war memorials are recorded for future generations.
  • Use photographs to help us to pass on information to the War Memorials Trust so they can assess whether conservation work is required.
  • Research the men and women inscribed on the war memorials to discover their stories.

About the project:

The purpose of the project is to ensure that there is a lasting record of all Local War Memorials detailing their inscriptions, locations and condition.  The project is set to run during the commemoration of the centenary of World War One from August 2014 to November 2018.  Schools and their pupils can play a major role in the project by collating the location, extent and condition of the War Memorials.

Below is a copy of the War Memorials data collection sheet that schools and pupils will need to use.

Recording Remembrance - War Memorial Recording Form

Memorial Type:

i.e. commemorative stone, cenotaph, cross, community garden




Memorial Components:

i.e. banner, cross, crucifix, carving




















OS Grid reference:









Full inscription:




Physical Condition / Description:





Width (cms)


Height (cms)


Depth (cms)


War commemorated:



Other information

Ceremony date:













Once pupils have gathered the required information about their local War Memorial they should click on the web link below to upload and add their results to the county database. Visiting this page and clicking on the link will also enable them to view entries posted by other schools and community groups across Sussex.

Planning to take part?

Interested schools should either:

Visit The First World War East Sussex website 


Contact the East Sussex Historic Environment Record Officer


Post:        HER Officer, The Keep, Woollards Way, Brighton BN1 9BP

For more information about the South East Schools World War I project contact:

Phil Bracegirdle - SEGfL Associates