Monument | War dead, War served | WW1, WW2

Memorial Gates

Memorial Gates
Memorial Gates

Erection date: 6/11/2002


NEP, N face
Our future is greater than our past.  Ben Okri

{Lower down:}
This memorial was inaugurated by Her Majesty the Queen on 6th November 2002 in the Golden Jubilee year of Her Majesty’s reign. 

NWP, E face
Memorial Gates Trust

Patron: HRH the Prince of Wales, KG, KT, GCB

Chairman the Baroness Flather, JP, DL
Khalid Aziz LVO, DL, Field Marshal the Lord Inge KG, GCB, DL
Lakshmi Niwas Mittal, Harpinder Singh Narula
Sir Gulam Noon MBE, Sir Anwar Pervez OBE, the Lord Sandberg CGE
The Viscount Slim OBE, DL, Sir Neil Thorne OBE, TD, DL
The Rt Hon The Lord Weatherill DL

Main Contractor: Geoffrey Osborne Ltd stonemasons, CWO Ltd

Architect: Liam O’Connor RIBA

NWP, N face 
In memory of the five million volunteers from the Indian Sub-continent, Africa and the Caribbean who fought with Britain in the two world wars.

{Lower down:}
This stone was laid by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother this day, 1st August 2001 to inaugurate the construction of the Memorial Gates on Constitution Hill.

NWP, W face
India, Pakistan, Shri Lanka, Bangladash

WB, W face
France, Belgium, Italy, Greece, North Africa, East Africa, Syria, Iraq

WB, N&S faces - both
1939 - 1945 Campaigns

WB, E face
India, Burma, Malaya, Singapore, Persia, Hong Kong, Dutch East Indies

EB, W face
West Africa, Egypt, East Africa, France, Belgium, Gallipoli, Russia

EB, N&S faces - both
1914 - 1918 Campaigns

EB, E face
Mesopotamia, Persia, China, Syria, Palestine, South Arabia

NEP, E & W faces - both
Kingdom of Nepal, Africa, Caribbean

NEP, W face
{Low down:}
A Millennium Commission Lottery Project 

{The ceiling of the little pavilion consists of 6 segments each containing a panel listing the recipients of the Victoria Cross and of the George Cross in WW1 and WW2.  At the top of each segment is a representation of the relevant cross, followed by either “Victoria Cross” or “George Cross” and then either “1914 - 1918” or “1939 - 1945”.  There are 23 names for the WW1 Victoria Cross, 39 for the WW2 Victoria Cross and 12 for the WW2 George Cross. Unusually, owing to the shape of the panels, the names on each panel are listed in length sequence rather than alphabetically.}

Designed by Liam O'Connor as a reduced-scale version of Lutyens' monument at India Gate in New Delhi.

Regarding the list of names - we think there may be some errors. For example, we transcribed ‘Parkash Singh J.E.M.’ which seemed odd so we did a bit of work and found Jemadar Prakash Singh, whom we think is the man intended. ‘Lala’ was not provided with another name but we found ‘Naik Lala’. And we think ‘Ditto’ is probably not someone’s first name. We found Victoria Cross in India helpful and suggest you start there if you want to research this area. Another difficulty is our lack of familiarity with the format of Asian names, of which there are many on the monument. We were however pleased to spot the woman we know as Noor Inayat Khan, whose name is given on the monument as Noor-Un-Nisa Inayat-Khan.

This memorial was erected by the Memorial Gates Trust but, despite being a very complicated memorial, it does not actually incorporate anything we would recognise as a gate. It straddles Constitution Hill; on the south side of the road are two pylons, to the south-west and the south-east, which we have referenced as SWP and SEP. On the north there are two corresponding pylons, NWP and NEP, plus to the north of them, a pavilion which is flanked, east and west, by a pair of large stone blocks, reminiscent of coffins, WB and EB.

Regarding its design, English Heritage had this to say (pre-2002):
"The finest new monument to be erected in Britain the last 50 years. Designed to complement the wider Edwardian setting of the royal processional route. Four stone pylons form an elegant gate of Portland Stone and bronze that is transformed, by the raising of a series of retractable bollards, into a public square at weekends. The gateway frames the daily ritual passing of the Royal Household Cavalry on their way to Buckingham Palace. Its details, and the Indian-style pavilion alongside, suggest a union between Eastern and Western architectural traditions, drawing inspiration from both."

Regarding the medals: The Victoria Cross was created by Queen Victoria in 1856 to honour the heroes of the Crimean War. It is now the highest military decoration for acts of valour in the face of the enemy. The George Cross was created by King George VI in 1940 to honour the civilian heroes in the Blitz. It is now the highest award for civilians and for members of the armed forces in actions for which military awards are not appropriate.

The Okri quote is the last line of Turn on your light.

The Memorial Gates website is very informative.

2022: At Indy100 we read: "The pillars of the Memorial Gates are topped by a bronze urn and gas flames, which are {lit} on special occasions such as Remembrance Sunday, Armistice Day and Commonwealth Day."

Site: Memorial Gates (1 memorial)

SW1, Constitution Hill

A nearby steel information panel informs:

“A debt of honour - The Memorial Gates
This memorial was inaugurated by Her Majesty the Queen during the Golden Jubilee year, 2002.  It commemorates the service and sacrifices of five million men and women from the Indian Sub-continent, Africa and the Caribbean, who volunteered to fight with the British in the two World Wars, 1914 – 18 and 1939 – 45.  This is the first time that their magnificent contribution has received fitting recognition.  With so many descendants of these volunteers now living in the United Kingdom, the Memorial Gates serve to remind us all of our shared sacrifices in times of greatest need.

First World War, 1914 – 18
Indian Sub-continent and the Kingdom of Nepal - 1,440,500 men and women, including 100,000 Gurkhas, volunteered for military service in the Indian Army.  They fought on the Western Front, in Gallipoli, Persia, Egypt, Palestine and Mesopotamia.

Africa – the old British African colonies provided 62,000 troops and transport auxiliaries who fought in Africa.

Caribbean – over 15,000 men served in the British West Indies Regiment and saw action in France, Palestine, Egypt and Italy.

Second World War, 1939 – 45
Indian Sub-Continent and the Kingdom of Nepal – over 2,500,000 including 132,000 Gurkhas, served in Burma, Malaya, Hong Kong, North and East Africa, France, Italy, Greece and throughout the Middle East.

Africa – over 372,000, mostly from East and West Africa, served in the Middle East, East Africa, Italy and Burma.

Caribbean – over 7,000 men and women volunteered to aid the war effort, many of whom saw action in the Middle East, Far East, East Africa and Italy.

The Memorial Gates have been funded by a National Lottery grant from the Millennium Commission and the generous support of trusts, foundations and members of the public.

This panel was donated by the Friends of War Memorials and the West Indian Ex-Services Association UK.

 Memorial Gates Trust”

This section lists the subjects commemorated on the memorial on this page:
Memorial Gates

Subjects commemorated i

Golden Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II

The fiftieth anniversary of the accession of Queen Elizabeth II.  The Golden ...

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World War 1

We'd always assumed that this war was known as the Great War until WW2 came a...

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World War 2

Sorry, we've done no research on WW2, it's just too big a subject. But do vis...

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Captain Michael Allmand, VC

Victoria Cross, 1939 - 1945.  Indian Armoured Corps attached 3bn 6th Gurkha R...

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Show all 78

This section lists the subjects who helped to create/erect the memorial on this page:
Memorial Gates

Created by i

Khalid Aziz

Trustee of The Memorial Gates Trust.

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King Charles III

Patron of the Goon Show Preservation Society. On the death of his mother, Qu...

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Queen Elizabeth II

Born 17 Bruton Street, to the Duke and Duchess of York. When she was 10 her f...

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Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother

In 1923 Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon (descended from the Royal House of Scotland...

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Show all 17

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