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The Chatham Naval Memorial is undergoing extensive restoration work to preserve its stonework and bronze commemorative panels.
The memorial, overlooking the River Medway in Kent, records the names of more than 18,500 Royal Navy personnel who lost their lives in the First or Second World War.
Craftspeople from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission are repairing statues depicting wartime sailors, the paving that surrounds the memorial and the extensive name panels that record the dead.
Even today, CWGC still discovers errors and omissions within its 1.7 million casualty records. When new discoveries coincide with restoration projects such as this one, the commission takes the opportunity to amend its memorials, and metalwork experts have already completed the amendments and additions at Chatham. The panels will now be cleaned, treated and patinated with wax to provide protection against the elements.
After the First World War, an Admiralty committee recommended that the three major Royal Navy ports of Chatham, Plymouth and Portsmouth should each be the site of an identical memorial obelisk that would not only commemorate the thousands of missing sailors, but would also be visible to shipping.
The Chatham Naval Memorial was unveiled by the Prince of Wales (the future King Edward VIII) on 26 April 1924. After the Second World War the naval memorials were all extended to commemorate the naval dead without graves of that war. The architect for the Second World War extension at Chatham was Sir Edward Maufe (who also designed the Air Forces memorial at Runnymede) and the Extension was unveiled by the Duke of Edinburgh on 15 October 1952.