CWGC x Herstory Club: Rebecca, Jane and the Plymouth Naval Memorial

The main War Graves Week events today are now in the South West of England, at Plymouth Naval Memorial. The Public Engagement Coordinator for the CWGC who covers the South West is Rebecca Smith.

Rebecca Smith

Rebecca says that getting out and about and meeting with people who are passionate about history, their ancestry and the work we do to honour the war casualties from the World Wars makes her job incredibly rewarding. Given the military background of the region, there are many large sites as well as numerous small churchyards where the CWGC commemorates casualties

A highlight of Rebecca’s time with the Commission was meeting a 97-year-old veteran from the Battle of Arnhem and recording his story as part of the Legacy of Liberation project. Reflecting on this, she remembered that “his memory was crystal clear and his recollections extraordinary”.

Also in the CWGC’s Public Engagement Team is Jane Lansdown, who is the Kantor Speakers Programme Coordinator.

Jane Lansdown

Jane is a history graduate, with a specialism in the First World War, and has worked in education and training throughout her career. She was honoured to join the CWGC during 2017, their centenary year, and was responsible for recruiting and training the first group of  CWGC volunteers to steward the centenary exhibition at Brookwood Military Cemetery and to offer guided tours.  She returned to CWGC in 2020 as the Speakers Programme Co-ordinator to recruit and train volunteers to deliver talks about the CWGC and its work.

Speaking of her work, Jane said: “Working with volunteers is a privilege, there are so many knowledgeable enthusiastic people who support and value the work of the CWGC.”


Plymouth Naval Memorial

The Plymouth Naval Memorial is one of the three great naval memorials built by the CWGC to commemorate the missing of the Royal Navy from the two World Wars. The three obelisk memorials, which can be found at Plymouth, Portsmouth and Chatham, were later expanded to incorporate the names of Second World War dead.

The First World War section of the memorial was designed by Sir Robert Lorimer, the Commission’s Principal Architect for the United Kingdom after the First World War, with the sculptures created by Henry Poole. It was unveiled by HRH Prince George, Duke of Kent, on 29th July 1924. The Second World War extension was designed by Sir Edward Maufe, with the sculptures created by Sir Charles Wheeler, and was unveiled by HRH Princess Margaret on 20th May 1954.  

Plymouth Naval Memorial
(image: CWGC)

Among the more than 23,000 people commemorated on the Plymouth Naval Memorial are eight women. One of them is Clerk Josephine Carr, who was from Cork in Ireland and is the only woman to be recorded on the memorial from the First World War. She was the first “Wren” (member of the Women’s Royal Naval Service) to be killed by enemy action, when SS Leinster was sunk by a German submarine in October 1918. 

Josephine Carr
(image: IWM WWC N3-1)

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