At the end of World War One, the Royal Navy decided to commemorate its members with no known graves. This was a vast list as many deaths occurred at sea. As no permanent memorial can stand on the oceans, Portsmouth commissioned the Royal Navy Memorial.
Along with two other naval manning ports in Chatham and Plymouth, they erected identical obelisks. The memorials stand on the shore and are visible from both land and sea.
The design of the obelisk was by Sir Robert Lorimer, the sculptor, Mr Henry Poole. The monument was first unveiled by the Duke of York on 15th October 1924.
The Second World War Memorial
With the end of World War Two in 1945, each memorial soon required extending. The Royal Navy suffered many further losses in the years following 1939.
Sir Edward Maufe designed the extension to the Portsmouth or Southsea memorial. He was also the designer responsible for the Royal Air Force Memorial at Runnymede. The extension differs from those at Chatham and Plymouth due to differences in the sites.
Charles Wheeler, William McMillan, and Esmond Burton completed the impressive extension. Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother unveiled the extension on 29th April 1953.
The memorial today
Also featured on the memorial are a series of storyboards. Erected by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, these tell the story of the men, women, and vessels involved in the conflict.
In honour of the Navy and to the abiding memory of those ranks and ratings of this port who laid down their lives in the defence of The Empire and have no other grave than the sea.
Royal Navy Memorial – Portsmouth
24,588 men and women’s names are on this monument. 9,666 died during the First World War and 14,922 in World War Two. This number includes 75 from Newfoundland who served in the Royal Navy during the Second World War.