War memorials historically commemorated victories and often would depict an emperor.
Over time they have started to remember those who have lost their lives. The oldest memorial in the United Kingdom is Oxford Universities All Souls College. Founded in 1438 with the provision that its fellows should pray for those killed in the wars with France.
After the First World War cities and villages across the world began commissioning memorials to remember those who lost their lives. Names were carefully recorded listing all soldiers not just Officers as was the case in previous memorials.
Some villages in France famously commissioned pacifist war memorials denouncing war. Instead of depicting soldiers they had figures of grieving women and children.
The Second World War saw the names of soldiers and locals who died during the conflict added to memorials. It is thought every village, town and city in the UK has a memorial remembering the dead much like this one here in Ealand.
In contrast 16 villages known as the ‘Thankful Villages’ saw all soldiers return home from both the World Wars. Some of these have memorials listing the men and women who returned home.