War memorials might deploy a wide range of shared themes, to help convey their significance, as well as to identify them as memorials. Equally though, conflict commemoration operates by having specific subjects, and operate to communicate their messages through distinctive combinations of media (text, image, ornament, form, material, location etc).
There are a further sub-category that explicitly create material citations to their subjects. I’ve addressed this for the UK’s National Memorial Arboretum‘s how precise citations to other places and subjects are rendered through deploying specific plants, but also specific human-made materials. This can be sometimes by replication: the Burma memorial at the NMA is designed to look broadly similar to the actual Kohima memorial. It can also transpire by moving relics to feature as the memorial itself: as with the actual gates of a Prisoner of War camp re-located as a memorial to the liberation of the camps. A further specific mnemonic strategy is the actual translate materials that were already memorials in their original position, to the NMA. Examples are the memorials commemorating British deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan have been relocated from the British bases in Basra and Camp Bastion respectively to the NMA.
However, precise cloning of memorials between different locations is something I haven’t thought about much. The example I’m aware of isn’t replicated at the NMA, but in an instance that shows the growing importance of the NMA as a focus of commemoration, the memorial was first opened at the NMA, one of 350 on the site.
I refer to the Durham Light Infantry Memorial unveiled at the NMA in July 2012 in the presence of HRH Princess Alexandra.
The memorial had cost £75,000. The bronze sculpture, by Alan Herriot, represents a DLI bugler dressed in the uniform of the Korean War, based on a photograph of Colour Sergeant Brandon Mulvey from Chester-le-Street. The Portland Stone plinth bears a quote from Field Marshal Montgomery, describing the DLI has ‘none better.’ The Korean War association is because this conflict was the last in the regiment’s battle honours.
The memorial commemorates the entire history of the regiment and its many casualties in conflict, including 12,000 during the First World War. At the time of its unveiling, the appeal co-ordinator Col. Charlton expressed a desire for a new casting of the statue to be placed in the city of Durham itself.
It was to my surprise to see a very familiar memorial to the one I’d seen at the NMA in Durham’s Market Place. BBC news tells me it was unveiled in September 2014 and ‘mirrors’ the one at the NMA.
My photograph is not particularly good since the memorial was surrounded by crowds for the Miners’ Gala. However, it is evidently a memorial to the DLI with the same sculpture. The plinth is near-identical in form, but marketed different textually (or it is that it is the same, but the sculpture is reversed?). Taking sculpture and plinth together, the monuments are near-identical.
Admittedly, each memorial speaks to different audiences: one at a national centre of remembrance, one in the city at the heart of the region from whence the regiment recruited, yet they serve a similar purpose. Moreover, together, they occupy and augment multi-focal memorial environments with strong sacred associations. The NMA is designed to be a focus of remembrance with its Armed Forces Memorial and spatial arrangement evoking a prehistoric sacred landscape. Meanwhile, the Market Place in Durham is part of a complex memoryscape including the Cathedral and the shrine and treasures of St Cuthbert. In this regard, as well as the replication of the same sculpture, they have much in common and ‘speak’ to each other as components of sacral memoryscapes.
It leads me to ponder how many other ‘clone memorials’ are out there….