The First World War was the bloodiest conflict in British military history. Although fought on a global stage, its effects were felt at a local and also a very personal level. Over a four year period families lost loved ones, schoolchildren lost their teachers, shops and businesses lost employees, there were empty seats amongst church congregations, sportsmen were suddenly missing valued team-mates and voices once familiar across Merton were silenced forever.
Over 10,000 men from Merton, Morden and Wimbledon alone did military service during the First World War, many of them volunteers. At least 1200 were killed, many more were disabled and scarred both physically and mentally by their experiences.
Several hundred men also joined up from the Mitcham area and the local war memorial carries the names of at least 600 war dead. Many more lie buried in churchyards and cemeteries, both locally and across the world. They gave their lives for King and Country, so family members, local authorities and the community at large felt it important to commemorate their sacrifice, not least to remind future generations of the devastating effects of World War.
Merton has an amazing number of memorials to local war dead. These range from traditional stone crosses designed to reflect the sacrifice made by a particular district, to memorial plaques installed at local schools, businesses and transport depots to commemorate former students and employees.
Undoubtedly the most emotive memorials are those installed on behalf of individual families as a way of preserving the memory of their loved ones. These range from stained glass windows and statuary, to memorial plaques, many of which feature highly personal and heartfelt epitaphs.
Shown below are just a few example of First World War memorials in Merton. More will be added in due course.
For more information, simply click on the name of the memorial.
King's Royal Rifle Corps Memorial, Wimbledon Common
Gap Road Cemetery, Wimbledon - war memorial
Merton Bus Garage - memorial plaque
Morden Cemetery - war memorial
Sacred Heart Church, Wimbledon - stained glass window and pieta
St. Lawrence Church, Morden - lychgate
St. Mary's Church, Wimbledon - Warrior Chapel
St. Peter & St. Paul Church, Mitcham - war memorial
St. Saviour's Church, Raynes Park - war memorial
Streatham Park Cemetery - war memorial
Wimbledon War Memorial, Parkside
For a more comprehensive list of First World War memorials in the London Borough of Merton, see the Whitehead collection.