Fourth Seminar on
Remembrance, Commemoration and Memorial
at the National Memorial Arboretum
11 February 2010
10:00 Arrival, Registration, Tea and Coffee
Stuart Gendall – Director of Corporate Communication The Royal British Legion
10:40 The Memorialism of Gallipoli and the Dardenelles 1915 : History and Meaning
Bob Bushaway – University of Birmingham
Memorialisation of Gallipoli and the Dardanelles - the scene of bloody fighting and trench warfare in 1915 – has taken place in a series of phases since the end of the First World War. The first phase occurred when the Imperial War Graves Commission returned to clear the battlefields of remains and to set up memorials to the missing as well as the thirty or so cemeteries on the peninsula itself. Thereafter Turkish memorialisation has taken place in stages, beginning in the 1930s under the aegis of Mustafa Kemal (ATATURK) who served there in 1915 and again in the 1990s partly to match the earlier allied effort, to mark out the peninsula as part of Turkish heritage, to proclaim national pride and especially to remember the importance of Turkish military and naval forces in defense of the Turkish state. More and more Turkish visitors come to the peninsula and it is recognised as a national requirement for schools and other organisations to make a visit. There are even voices calling for the peninsula to be included as an Islamic site of pilgrimage. Why should memorialisation of a campaign nearly one hundred years earlier continue to carry such potent meaning in the contemporary world?
11:10 Museums, War, and Cultural Memory: Yours, mine, ours?
Rhiannon Mason – University of Newcastle
This paper will look at the way museums about war weave together personal memories and historical accounts on a local, national and international scale. This will offer a way of thinking about the intersection between individual and collective memory in the context of museums and how collections and displays might mediate this process.
11:40 Experiencing and participating in remembrance
Paula Kitching – Freelance Historian and Education Consultant working for The Royal British Legion, Historical Association, The Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF)
For young people the idea of Remembrance is often an abstract one. Especially, about conflicts that seem a long way off, due to the distance of time, through geographical distance, or lack of immediate personal connection. Why should they bother then with the annual rigmarole of wearing a Poppy and participating in a service? Ultimately what does it matter or mean to them? The Royal British Legion has learnt that young people that learn about Remembrance especially through experience do understand what it means to them and the world they live in – they understand how it can be used as a gate way for understanding both the conflicts of the past and present and also of the men and women that are affected by them. This presentation will explore the methods used for young people to experience and participate in acts of Remembrance that enable young people to explore it’s relevance to themselves.
12:10 The Remembrance Seminars : Looking Back, Looking Forward
Charlie Baggot- Jewitt Chief Executive of the National Memorial Arboretum
12:30 Lunch and Discussion
1:45 Feedback from lunchtime discussion
2:15 Commemorating animals: glorifying humans?
Remembering and forgetting animals in war memorials
Hilda Kean - Ruskin College, Oxford
Since the early twentieth century animals have been commemorated ostensibly in their own right in different forms. After the South African wars many horse and cattle troughs were built to commemorate the tremendous loss of horses. Later, the ANZAC legend was stimulated by the statue of Simpson and his donkey, erected first at the National War Memorial in Melbourne, and later replicated at other sites in Australia. In Britain the role of various animals in the 1914-8 and 1939 – 45 wars has been commemorated in different ways. These include the Kilburn RSPCA frieze by F.Brook Hitch in which not only elephants but also trench mice are remembered. Recently Heritage Lottery Funding has facilitated the restoration in the PDSA animal cemetery in Ilford of memorial stones of individual animal ‘heroes’ who were awarded the PDSA DIckin medal for war work. The major ‘ Animals in War’ memorial, unveiled in Park Lane in 2004, with the backing of many animal welfare charities, has also attracted attention. Popular representational memorialisation has continued to flourish; yet many scholars within the new Animal Studies field are critical of this, arguing that such commemoration merely glorifies human beings and tells us little about animal lives – or deaths – in war. Drawing on the discourses of both Public History and Animal Studies I will analyse critically various examples of animal war commemoration and consider what such memorialisation is really about. I will also explore the extent to which animals are – or even could be – portrayed in their own right in war memorials.
2:45 Cultivating the moral high ground
Professor Paul Gough - University of the West of England, Bristol
This paper will examine the unique capacity of ‘garden-memorials’ to evoke poignant analogies between human existence, the fragility of nature and the ‘consolations of cyclic regeneration’. I want to focus on the mnemonic role of the trees, plants and shrubs in remembrance settings, such as the National Memorial Arboretum. I will explore their varied symbolic and metaphorical functions, and the explicit didacticism in the planting scheme. Parallels will be drawn with memorial gardens in other countries, from the ‘Heroes Groves’ of central Europe to the preserved remains of former battlefields and I will touch on how human relationships with trees changes radically during warfare and again in times of peace. Although the Arboretum in Staffordshire is not a funerary environment as such, the paper will examine the relationship between memory, object, caption and planting, which allows the site and its many sub-sites to appear to ‘speak’ from beyond the grave.
3:15 Architecture and Remembrance
Liam O ‘Connor is a registered architect in the U.K. and a member of the Royal institute of British Architects who designed the Armed Forces Memorial at the National Memorial Arboretum, the Commonwealth Memorial ‘gates’ on Constitution Hill in London and has recently won the Commission for the new Bomber Command Memorial.
3:45 Tea / Coffee