THE GREAT WAR IN WALES: MEMORY AND MONUMENTS IN CEREDIGION In September 1923 the war memorial in Aberystwyth was unveiled in an elaborate and moving ceremony. The event was recorded on film and remains a compelling testament to the memory of the Great War and how communities grieved and commemorated their fallen. Ceremonies to unveil war memorials were commonplace in Ceredigion, in Wales and throughout Britain in the decade after the war as virtually every town and village set up its own memorial with churches, schools, businesses and other institutions following suit. War memorials remain as potent evidence both of the catas- trophe of the Great War and of the challenges faced by those seeking to com- memorate the fallen.2 By the time the guns finally fell silent in November 1918, an esti- mated nine million men had lost their lives; over seven hundred thousand of these were British servicemen.3 The Welsh National Book of Remembrance held in Cardiff lists 35,000 names and it has been estimated that three mil- lion Britons lost a close relative in the Great War.4 The loss of life on this scale ensured that bereavement became a shared experience throughout Britain as individuals and communities attempted to come to terms with their grief. Remembering men as soldiers but also as individuals after the war was a priority; the question remained as to how to do so appropriately. Prior to 1914, commemoration of men killed in battle was primarily defined by personal wealth, influence and social position. Usually none of these was applicable to the private soldier, whose enlistment was often regarded as a 'last resort' and whose subsequent death often remained unmarked. The involvement and death of an estimated three and a half thousand British vol- unteers in the Boer War led to changes in the act of commemoration as it became necessary to remember those who had died not only as soldiers but also as citizens.5 The loss of life in that war, however, could not prepare society for the scale of death less than twenty years later. Casualty lists published in British newspapers throughout the Great War gave daily notice of the catastrophic impact on a society that in many ways was simply not prepared for death.6 Improvements in medical care combined with decreased infant mortality rates in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries had created the expectation that children would
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