In previous posts I’ve addressed the mnemonic power of translating materials associated with disasters in the composition of war memorials. I’ve also addressed the mnemonic significance of the translation of memorials themselves to new locations as a related strategy. Alongside overt allusions to ancient monuments and materials, I’ve explored the deployment of materiel in individual memorials and as themes binding memorials together, as at the National Memorial Arboretum. Here are some previous relevant posts.
- A Bastion of Memory
- Monuments in Motion
- Megaliths and Masculinity
- Antiquity at the NMA
- Archaeology at the NMA
Recently, at Whitesands Bay, near St David’s, Pembrokeshire, I came upon a Second World War memorial, commemorating the deaths of four USAAF aviators who perished when their Marauder aircraft hit Carn Llidi in fog on 4th June 1943. I was struck by the location and by the form of the monument.
The location is prominent, at the top-end of the car park beside the beach, and within view of the crash-site on Carn Llidi. The beautiful mountain on a clear day defies one to imagine the foggy conditions in which the crash took place. Meanwhile, the memorial itself comprises of one of the aircraft’s bent propellers set upright in concrete with a metal plaque at its base. In this fashion, the memorial itself directly connects one to the plane and its demise.
The use of burnt and broken, bent and buckled fragments as the foci of memorialisation themselves is a direct, tangible way of recollecting the tragic acts commemorated, and the fragmentation and dissolution of materials, bodies, vehicles and structures caused by the event. It is also citational, linking the place of the memorial to the place of death and destruction.
Therefore, in the context of a cenotaphic monument, with a plaque depicting how the plane appeared intact, the link between imagined life before death, and the tragic circumstances of death are congealed through the use of materiel.