Over 700,000 British servicemen died in the field of battle in the First World War and it has been estimated that around 3 million people across Britain lost a close relative. 

Wales recognised this sacrifice on a national level through the creation of the Welsh National War Memorial in Cathays Park, unveiled by the Prince of Wales in 1928. Unlike on a lot of other memorials, the names of the fallen were not listed, and the National Book of Remembrance acted as a roll of honour in conjunction with the monument. Listed according to regiment, on 1,100 pages of vellum, the names of 35,000 service personnel (including some women) who died in the field of battle are written in beautiful calligraphy, and illuminated with intricate patterns. 

To be included, people either had to have served in a Welsh regiment or be of Welsh birth or parentage serving in a British or Commonwealth unit.

Held originally at the National Museum of Wales, in 1938 the book was transferred to a specially built crypt under the new Temple of Peace and Health in Cathays Park. Funded largely by Lord David Davies of Llandinam, this building was the home of two organisations: the King Edward VII Memorial Association, which worked towards the elimination of tuberculosis in Wales, and the League of Nations Union in Wales.

On the morning of November 23, 1938, Mrs Minnie James of Dowlais, representing the war-bereaved mothers of Wales (she had lost three sons in the war) turned the key to open the door of the Temple, built, according to Lord Davies, as “a memorial to those gallant men from all nations who gave their lives in the war that was to end all wars”. The National Book of Remembrance was placed in the crypt that was purpose-built in the foundations of the Temple. The crypt was – and remains today - a place for quiet contemplation, and the symbolism is clear: this is the reason why we should strive for peace, this is the ‘foundation’ of our work.

To see the full digital copy of the book, go to https://www.llgc.org.uk/llyfrycofio (click on the '+' sign if this appears to be taken to the book cover, and regimental index down the LH column).

To view scanned pages and names by regiment, please visit the regimental sets on on People's Collection Wales

If you know the name or other details of a relative / research person of interest, but are unsure of their regiment, try the Commonwealth War Graves Commmission search database.  

You can view the Book in its usual home in the Crypt under the Temple of Peace in this Flickr album here, along with the magnificant building inspired by the vision of a world free from war as the ultimate symbol of remembrance for a lost generation - a mission carried on to this day.

Book of remembrance -name list.jpg         Book of remembrance-book and pics.jpg

Remembering for Peace one hundred years later

In 2017, the Temple of Peace is the home of the Welsh Centre for International Affairs: a registered charity whose vision is that everyone in Wales contributes to creating a fair and peaceful world.

In 2014, the WCIA secured Heritage Lottery Funding for the Wales for Peace project – which over the next four years asks the question: ‘in the 100 years since the First World War, how has Wales contributed to the search for peace?’. In the first two years we have involved thousands of participants and volunteers in our activities, which focus on Wales’ peace heritage but also raises questions about our attitudes to war and peace today. ‘Remembering for Peace’ is the strand of our work that focuses on the Book of Remembrance, and aims to make the Book available and relevant to as many people as possible through exhibitions, digital engagement and research.

Exhibition Tour to Date

To date, the Book of Remembrance exhibition and public activities programme has visited:

WCIA have also worked with the Welsh Royal British Legion and the National Library of Wales to produce a replica Book of Remembrance (see Flickr album here) for public use in particular with memorial events (such as the Wales Festival of Remembrance) and local educational activities, as a legacy of the project.

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