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Aberystwyth Town War Memorial

Aberystwyth War Memorial 2

The Aberystwyth town war memorial is considered by some to be one of the finest in Britain. It records the names of 111 Aberystwyth men who died as a result of action during the First World war and 78 men and women who died during the Second World War. It is one of a number in the town: others are in chapels, places of work and schools.

The Memorial was built between 1921 and 1923 after much discussion. The first meeting of the Aberystwyth War Memorial Committee was held in February 1917, but they couldn't agree on whether to build a memorial to the dead or purchase buildings for use by the living. In March, 1919 the committee was disbanded and a new committee elected. They immediately agreed to build the monument and to purchase buildings for the Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA) and the Young Women's Christian Association (YWCA) and began a campaign to raise £10,000 (about £1 per head of the Aberystwyth population).
By April, 1920, £5,000 had been raised and it was agreed that £3,000 be spent on purchasing buildings for the YMCA and YWCA leaving £2,000 for the memorial.

Aberystwyth War Memorial

The original sculptor for the Aberystwyth war memorial, Professor Harvard Thomas, died soon after his first presentation to the War Memorial Committee and since the sculptor Professor Mario Rutelli of Palermo (1859-1941) was in Aberystwyth to complete the war memorial at Tabernacl they asked him to prepare some drawings for the town memorial. T.D. Jenkins of Aberystwyth who paid for the Tabernacl memorial had chosen Rutelli for that project after a study of the work of Italian Sculptors.
Rutelli's scheme for the town memorial was very ambitious and was to cost £3,600, nearly twice the available funds, so the committee set about another campaign and just managed to raise the right amount by the time the monument was unveiled. Rutelli received no fee for the design or for the time he spent supervising the project in Aberystwyth.

T.D. Jenkins went to Rome to discuss details of the town memorial with Rutelli and he also commissioned and paid for the statue of the Prince of Wales (later Edward VIII – the only statue of him in the world now in front of the Old College, Aberystwyth). The bronzes for the town memorial were delivered and fitted in place in November 1922 but the monument was not officially unveiled until on 14th September, 1923.

Contemporary reports record that the top figure represents Victory and the figure at the base represents Humanity emerging from the effects of war.

The inscription in Welsh is 'Dros Ryddid' (For Freedom) and in English 'Greater Love for no man than this...'

The YMCA and YWCA both existed before the First World War but the memorial committee agreed to purchase premises for the YMCA in Chalybeate Street (NLW ex 963 'Foundation of the YMCA Aberystwyth') and for the YWCA in North Parade. The buildings were sold during the late 20th century but the memorial still stands proudly overlooking the town and the Irish sea.

Bibliography:
NLW Minor deposit 489b (Minutes of the Aberystwyth War memorial Committee)
Minutes of the Aberystwyth Town Council
Documents in Ceredigion Archives:
Fund raising leaflet published by the Aberystwyth War Memorial Committee November 1921; Account book: (Treasurer: J.W.P.Parry); Programme of the unveiling ceremony of Aberystwyth war memorial 14.9.1923. Roll of honour and details of procession and memorial service; Programme for fund raising bazaar held in September, 1923.

Roberts, Brynley F., 'Syr John a'r Eidalwr' Ysgrifau a cherddi cyflwynedig i Daniel Huws, golygwyd gan Tegwyn Jones ac E.B. Fryde; Essays and poems presented to Daniel Huws, edited by Tegwyn Jones and E.B. Fryde (1994), p. 179-94