The unprecedented loss and devastation due to the deaths of so many men in the First World War impacted families and communities across the entire country. Every family who lost one of their own was given a Memorial Plaque (more commonly known as a Death Penny or Dead Man’s Penny) as a private family memorial, but villages, towns, clubs, schools, workplaces and churches, deeply affected by the losses, wanted to preserve the memory of their local men who had sacrificed their lives for their country.
Committees were formed up and down the country to decide what form each memorial should take, and whose names should be included. This was not always straightforward as record keeping was at times inaccurate, families moved out of areas and decisions of whether or not to include a dead service person were sometimes subjective.
Two war memorials were erected in Welling in the early 1920s, the Welling War Memorial near Welling Corner and the East Wickham War Memorial at St Michael’s Church. However fundraising was also underway for a more ambitious memorial, the creation of a social club. This was realised later in the decade when the East Wickham and Welling War Memorial Hall was erected, with a plaque bringing together the names from the two traditional war memorials. The hall has site was sold for redevelopment in 2007.
A new East Wickham and Welling War Memorial plaque, located in St Michael’s Church, was commissioned by the East Wickham and Welling War Memorial Trust and was dedicated in 1996.
Also, on the north wall of St Michael’s Church is a Commonweath War Graves Commission War Memorial, remembering men from both the First and Second World Wars who are buried in the church graveyard.
Controversy has courted the Memorials over the years, some of which is written below. However the Memorials stand firm in their purpose of remembering those who gave their lives, and the legacy of the Memorial Hall is the East Wickham and Welling War Memorial Trust, a prominent grant giving charity in the area.