Following World War One the Imperial War Graves Commission, now the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC), needed to find an appropriate way to commemorate those men of the Royal Navy who had died at sea. Following the recommendation of an admiral committee, identical memorials were erected at the three manning ports of Chatham, Plymouth and Portsmouth and located so that they might act as markers for ships entering port.
In each memorial, designed by Sir Robert Lorimer (1864- 1929), a stone column rises over 30 metres with the base supported in each corner by the sculptured figure of a lion. Carved upon each column face, about a third of the way up is a badge of the Royal Navy, a crown, a laurel wreath and an anchor. The column is topped by a large copper sphere representing the globe with in turn is supported by figures representing the four winds, immediately below this, carved into the stone, are the prows of four ships.
Bronze panels recording he names of those who died at sea, during 1914 – 1918, are inset into the base and buttresses. A dedicatory panel, which can be found on the seaward side, reads;
“IN MEMORY OF THE NAVY AND TO THE ABIDING MEMORY OF THOSE RANKS AND RATINGS OF THIS PORT WHO LAID DOWN THEIR LIVES IN DEFENCE OF THE EMPIRE AND HAVE NO OTHER GRAVE BUT THE SEA”.
Following World War Two each memorial was given an extension which commemorates those who died during 1939 -1945. It was not possible for the extensions to be identical as each site was different.
The locations of these memorials are shown below;
Overlooks the town of Chatham and is approached by a steep path from the Town Hall Gardens. Sadly, due to constant vandalism, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission has had to arrange for it to be regularly patrolled and public access is limited to the period from 08.30 to 17.00.
Situated in the Park on the North side of the Hoe. It is accessible at all times.
Situated on Southsea Common, near Clarence pier, overlooking the promenade, It is accessible at all times.