War Memorial on Cabinet Grounds Completed

November 11, 2010

The new War Memorial on the Cabinet Grounds has been completed and a date will soon be announced for its official dedication.

This will be the only memorial in Bermuda which contains the names of all the men and women of Bermuda who served in World War I and World War II.

More Bermudians per capita than any other country in the world volunteered to serve in the First and Second World War. They served in many of the great battles of both Wars including the Battle of the Somme in France, which lasted for six months and claimed nearly a million lives.

bermuda war memorial otb 2010

After the First World War, the Government of the day promised a War Memorial and the Prince of Wales, later Edward VIII, laid the foundation stone in the Cabinet Grounds in 1920. A competition was held for the design. The Memorial was never built and pensions and benefits awarded in the 1919 War Pensions and Services Act were never given to the returning soldiers.

The memorial designs were buried in Committee due to costs and after the Second World War (1939-45), there was no change in the Government’s attitude towards Bermuda’s returning soldiers. Some small memorials do exist for smaller separate units, like the BVRC Memorial in Victoria Park.

The memorial contains the names of almost 3,000 Bermudian men and women who served in the two World Wars. The names are inscribed on seven highly polished black granite slabs and a diamond emblem in gold leaf beside a name indicates that the serviceman or servicewoman is on the roll of honour and lost their lives in wartime service.

The fountain in front of the memorial is made of a granite base and a highly-polished pink granite ball which is the same stone used in the Anglican Cathedral in Hamilton.

The large tree that was just north of the memorial has been removed as it was diseased and may have posed a danger the memorial.

Minister Burgess said that while the Memorial has been completed in time for today’s Remembrance Day Service and Parade there would be an official ceremony at the site later to allow the Memorial to be formally dedicated. The date for the formal dedication service will be announced in the very near future.

Minister Burgess said: “I would like to thank all the people who have dedicated themselves to this project to ensure we honour every single one of the men and women who served in the two World Wars. I would especially like to thank Carol Everson for her tireless dedication in researching and verifying every name. She has done a yeoman’s job and without her this project wouldn’t have been completed. And of course, I honour the men and women who served in the great wars and those who gave their lives in service to their country.”

Bermuda’s military units were segregated at the time of the World Wars and the records of many soldiers, particularly black soldiers, have been poorly maintained. Many others do not exist at all. The campaign aimed at righting an historic wrong in the Bermuda community, and to recognise appropriately the First and Second World War service of all of Bermuda’s residents. The new War Memorial will honour the sacrifice of every Bermudian man and woman who served in the Great Wars.

Until the Government amended the War Pensions and Services Act in 2007, Bermudians who served in the defence of Bermuda and nearly all black veterans and their widows received no acknowledgement or benefits.

The Government has extended benefits to veterans and widows to include free hospital treatment, respite and palliative care, a monthly pension and a funeral grant. There were extensive benefits available in the 1919 and 1947 versions of the War Pensions and Services Act, but unlike other Commonwealth countries which had similar Acts, the benefits were never made properly available in Bermuda.

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Comments (2)

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  1. Call it like it is! says:

    The War Memorial is magnificent and a fitting tribute to all those who fought in the two World Wars. Sincere congratulations to everyone involved in making this a reality. The memorial proved to be very popular at this morning’s impressive November 11 Parade. Lest we forget let it long continue.

  2. Ronnie Viera says:

    I commend the Government for finally giving the veterans the benefits they so rightly deserve and erecting the memorial. As a Bermudian, I am embarrassed that previous Governments had ignored this important obligation.