Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Glorious Dead?

As I sat in a traffic jam on the Promenade in Blackpool this evening, I looked right and noticed the magnificent war memorial obelisk. I could see the words writ large upon it: 'In Memory of our Glorious Dead'. It triggered a memory from visiting hundreds of war memorials over the years - most of them bore the same inscription. My question is: Why describe them as 'Glorious Dead'? Anyone have any thoughts on the subject?


  1. I'd imagine its because there is no greater glory than to lay down your life for your country. However I'm not sure that if in todays dog eat dog society many people still believe in this. What do you think?

  2. I presume because they were supposed to have died fighting 'for a cause' which often the poor souls did not appreciate or understand.

  3. How else can old men get young men to fight their wars unless it is glorified.

  4. Hi Laurie ! I think perhaps one of the best answers to your question might have been phrased in the lines of a poem by Robert William Service titled : The March of the Dead (which also appears on beautifully adapted muscial version done by none other than Country Joe McDonald of Woodstock fame, if you might remember, the guy who did the fish cheer... gimmee an F ! give me a U ! gimmee a C ! gimmee a K ! What's that spell ! What's that spell ! and the crowd shouts it loudly, before he launches into his famous song "Feel Like I'm Fixin' to Die Rag") Happy to see you back here, I imagine the past few weeks have been rather busy !?

  5. Possibley Kipling might have had something to do with the inscriptions. I think he wrote the words, Known unto God as he was on the Commonwealth Graves Commission.

    If you saw Ian Hislop series on the WW1 was very good and explained why some places don't have war memorials. I always think of WW1 as the equivalent of the USA vietnam war, which split the country. Max Ernst's Apres Le Deluge painting sums up the 20's.

    Also intriguing was the Portillo series What we have forgotten, where he looked at the WW1 and how it was considered the War to end all wars. It wasn't until WW2 and then the 60's with the revisionist idea of Oh! What A Lovely War started to change attitudes that it was all bad.

    Incidentally, Kipling is not necessary the arch imperialist, he has been portrayed. His reputation deserves better.

    I really liked the Punch cartoon where two Tommies are going over the top and one says to the other. 'I don't why I am here. I can't write poetry'.

    Also the Big Country song, 'Where the Rose is Sown' is a good anti war song. The lyics are laid out in an interesting way.

    As an aside, Bury still has a Gallopi service as the Lancahsire Fusiliers (recruited from the area) won 6 VCs before breakfast. Good idea, badly executed.