My wife and I have walked the lines daily as part of our exercise regime and as today was a beautifully sunny October day, we decided to have a walk around the memorial grounds that house the huge obelisk that can be seen from most areas of Chatham. Like most people who tread the Lines on a regular basis, we hadn’t really considered what we were walking past. Today, we got curious. The grounds are kept really well and it’s a peaceful place steeped in history. We had no idea that the names were not just of the soldiers who died during the Great War, but those without graves from BOTH WW1 and WW2.
The Gillingham Great Lines War Memorial is located in Chatham on the ‘The Great Line Heritage Park’ and over looks Chatham town centre. The view is good and it’s a good challenge to try to pick out the shops and buildings in the distance – The Pentagon Centre being the easiest to identify! You can even see Rochester Castle from the benches on the hillside.
Here’s what it looks like inside:
Here’s what WikiPedia says:
Chatham Naval Memorial is a large obelisk situated in the town of Chatham, Kent, which is in the Medway Towns. The memorial is now the main feature of The Great Line Heritage Park. The huge expanse of the Great Lines was in its own right a layer of defence to protect Chatham Dockyard from attack.
Chatham was a principal manning port of the Royal Navy during the First World War and thus was dedicated as the site of one of three memorials to sailors of the Royal Navy killed during the conflict but who have no grave.
It is made of Portland stone with bronze plaques in 1920. It has steps up to a plinth with inscription plaques, and projecting corners with reclining lions, beneath a stepped base to the obelisk, which has a stepped top to an elaborate finial with corner ships prows and bronze supports to a ball.
After the Second World War and its consequent loss of life, the decision was made to expand the three memorials and so the Chatham Naval Memorial was created from the ‘Chatham Obelisk’ and was given a surround designed by Sir Edward Maufe which contains 10,098 additional names from the later conflict. The surround is also made of Portland Stone, with bronze plaques. It has two pavilions; north and south which look out towards Chatham. Along the surround are 4 portland stone statues of sailors.
The memorial featured prominently in the 1996 novel Last Orders by British author Graham Swift, as did the Medway Towns . The novel was adapted into a film and directed by Australasian director Fred Schepisi and starred inter alia Sir Michael Caine, Bob Hoskins, Ray Winstone and Helen Mirren. The memorial featured in a number of scenes.
Source WikiPedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chatham_Naval_Memorial