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Plymouth Second World War Memorial to the Civilian Dead, Plymouth

Description: Plymouth Second World War Memorial to the Civilian Dead

Grade: II
Date Listed: 1 July 2013
Building ID: 1413761

OS Grid Reference: SX5035156777
OS Grid Coordinates: 250351, 56777
Latitude/Longitude: 50.3918, -4.1066

Locality: Plymouth
County: Plymouth
Postcode: PL3 6PD

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Listing Text


A Second World War Civilian Memorial, erected after 1945; limestone and with brass plaques.

Reason for Listing

The Plymouth Memorial to the Second World War Civilian Dead is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

* Architectural interest: it is an elegant structure, with a carefully considered design that reflects the typical style of contemporary memorials;
* Historic interest: it commemorates the tragic loss of civilian life during the Plymouth Blitz and acts as a historic record, documenting the names of 397 of the 1,174 victims;
* Communal interest: it is a sombre reminder of the individual and communal loss suffered in the air raids on Plymouth during the Second World War;
* Setting: the mass graves for 397 of the civilians who lost their lives is located nearby and to the west are a number of military graves, a First World War Cross of Sacrifice memorial and Second World War memorial wall, all under the care of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.


The memorial commemorates the 1,174 civilians who lost their lives during the Second World War air attacks on Plymouth. The worst of these attacks took place over seven nights through March and April 1941 and became known as the Plymouth Blitz; a bombing campaign that devastated the city. A service was held in Efford Cemetery on the afternoon of Monday 28 April in which the graves of the civilian casualties were covered with Union Jack flags and floral tributes. Those in attendance included the Bishop of Exeter, the Bishop of Plymouth, the Roman Catholic Bishop of Plymouth and The Reverend W D Campbell representing the Nonconformist congregations.
The memorial within Efford Cemetery is the only known free-standing memorial within the city to be dedicated to the civilian dead, and is situated within 10 metres of a mass grave for those victims. In 2010 the Grants for War Memorials scheme offered a grant to help with cleaning the memorial, surrounding areas and plaques, re-pointing and some isolated stone repairs.


The memorial comprises a two-tier octagonal drum-shaped limestone monument. It stands within a sunken circular paved area which is bounded by four sections of low curved walls constructed of Plymouth limestone. The walls are stepped and interrupted by four entrance points, each with a set of steps of varying heights. Later steel rails have been added to three of the four entrance points. Each side of the upper tier contains a bronze plaque, one of which displays a dedication that reads : ‘THIS MEMORIAL WAS ERECTED TO THE SACRED MEMORY OF THE 1,174 CIVILIANS WHO LOST THEIR LIVES BY ENEMY AIR ATTACKS ON THE CITY OF PLYMOUTH DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR 1939 - 1945 OF WHOM 397 ARE INTERRED IN THE NEARBY COMMUNAL GRAVE AND WHOSE NAMES ARE INSCRIBED ON THIS MEMORIAL’. Of the seven other plaques, one is blank and the other six bear the names of 397 people who are interred in a nearby communal grave.

Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.