War Memorials

In Great Britain there are War Memorials – mainly to the Great War and the Second World War – in even the smallest towns and villages. Sometimes when you’re driving along in the countryside there will be one at the edge of a field; covered in names even though there appears to be no habitation worthy of the name round about.

I’ve also come across them on walls in churches, police and railway stations (does anyone know what happened to the memorial at Dumbarton East when they demolished the old buildings?) and Post Offices commemorating the former workers who “gave their lives.”

It’s always striking that the number of dead for World War 1 outstrips that of World War 2 – perhaps a reflection of the fact that, after 1916 till late 1918, the greater burden of the Allies in the Great War lay on Britain and its Empire, while in WW2 most of the fighting after 1941 was done by the USSR and the US.

I spent a fortnight in Germany 30 years ago and was tremendously saddened by the war memorial in the town where I was staying. The sacrifice seemed even more poignant because they lost (and, of course, in WW2 had no shred of excuse nor reason to fight.)

I have already posted pictures of Kirkcaldy’s War Memorial.

There is another war memorial in Kirkcaldy, though, one which is fairly unusual.

It is to the local dead of the Spanish Civil War; members of the International Brigade who came from Fife or the Lothians. That conflict preceded and presaged the greater anti-fascist fight of WW2. Arguably had France and Great Britain taken the government side in that war then the later, bigger war might have been averted. But Britain at least was in no mood to fight (think of all those names on the WW1 memorials) and was also unprepared (no Spitfires for example.) This was still more or less true by the time of the Munich crisis in 1938. But failure to stand up to him on both those occasions and also during the remilitarisation of the Rhineland in 1936 and the 1938 Anschluss encouraged Hitler to believe we never would.

Here is the memorial in situ. It stands just off Forth Avenue, quite near Kirkcaldy railway station.

Spanish Civil War Memorial

The main plaque is inscribed as below.

Plaque

These are the names just above the plaque.

Memorial front names

There are more on the plinth below the shield.

Memorial top names

This is the shield. The mounted knight is an old emblem representing Fife.

Memorial shield

It’s strange to think that had the Western European powers fought in Spain and helped the Spanish Republic to victory, a Nazi Germany would, paradoxically, likely have survived long past 1945.

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    […] So many men from Fife and the Lothians died in Spain that there is a memorial to them in Kirkcaldy. Jack wrote about it here. […]

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