Information about war memorials in County Durham and sources you can use to research the history of a memorial and the people named on it.
War memorials are one of the commonest features of our towns and villages, and probably one of the most overlooked. People often walk past them everyday without looking at them. But they tell us about two of the most terrible wars in history – and give information on those who fought and those who died.
War memorial research
Trying to interpret a war memorial can be an interesting and satisfying task, and Durham County Record Office has a number of sources which can help you. To give an indication of how you can begin, the Record Office has done some research into the Durham County Council War Memorial in County Hall.
Start your research by checking the North East War Memorials Project website to find:
- details of each memorial
- location of the memorial
- lists of the names found on the memorials with any details of regiments etc. that are shown
This website aims to cover every war memorial in Northumberland, Newcastle upon Tyne and County Durham.
Another key source is the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website.
War memorial sources in Durham County Record Office include:
- war memorial committee records
- Durham Light Infantry archives
- local newspapers
- rolls of honour
- parish registers
- electoral registers
- absent voters’ lists
- school log books
- free access to military records on the Ancestry website
Examples of recent war memorial research
Harraton War Memorial
The U3A Wessington War Memorials Group have researched
The Brave Men of Harraton. We have a reference copy of this detailed investigation into the men named on the memorial in the Record Office library. The research coincided with the restoration of Harraton war memorial.
Belmont War Memorial
Belmont Parish Council War Memorial Committee deposited its records in Durham County Record Office (ref. CP/Bel) in August 2012. The records describe a recent project to relocate the war memorial from St. Mary Magdalene Church to the High Street.