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The establishment of the Marines as a permanent force under the Admiralty came about in 1755, and the subsequent acquisition of Barrack Headquarters at Chatham (c. 1780), Portsmouth, Plymouth, and Woolwich. The Royal Marines were based at Chatham for over 200 years. From 1775 until 1950 the Chatham Division of Royal Marines occupied barracks on a site adjacent to the southern end of the Dockyard. The Royal Naval Barracks for the marines were close to the dockyard, and around these and the dockyard grew up the village of Brompton, serving this major concentration of military personnel. The the Royal Marine Barracks, is now the site of Medway Council offices.

The full set of fortifications at Chatham included Kitchener Barracks (c 1750-1780), the Royal Marine Barracks (c 1780), Brompton Artillery Barracks (1806) and Melville Barracks. H.M.S. Collingwood and H.M.S. Pembroke were also both naval barracks.

The Chatham Naval Memorial commemorates the 18,500 officers, ranks and ratings of the Royal Navy who were lost or buried at sea in the two World Wars. It stands on the Great Lines between Chatham and Gillingham.


After the First World War, an appropriate way had to be found of commemorating those members of the Royal Navy who had no known grave, the majority of deaths having occurred at sea where no permanent memorial could be provided. An Admiralty committee recommended that the three manning ports in Great Britain - Chatham, Plymouth and Portsmouth - should each have an identical memorial of unmistakable naval form, an obelisk, which would serve as a leading mark for shipping. The memorials were designed by Sir Robert Lorimer, who had already carried out a considerable amount of work for the Commission, with sculpture by Henry Poole. It was unveiled on 26 April 1924. After the Second World War it was decided that the naval memorials should be extended to provide space for commemorating the naval dead without graves of that war, but since the three sites were dissimilar, a different architectural treatment was required for each. 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 additional sculpture was by Charles Wheeler and William McMillan. Chatham Naval Memorial commemorates 8,517 sailors of the First World War and 10,098 of the Second World War.

To get to the memorial starting from Bromptom Barracks, Chatham, at the traffic signals turn right onto Globe Lane - A231 (signposted 'Historic Dockyards'). Keep in left hand lane then turn left onto Dock Road (signposted Gillingham). At roundabout take the 2nd exit onto Wood Street - A231 (signposted Gillingham). Turn Right on Mansion Row (The memorial is signposted from here), then 1st left on Sally Port Gardens and finally 1st right on King's Bastion. Follow road through the housing estate, the car park to the memorial is at the end of this road. The Memorial overlooks the town of Chatham and is approached by a steep path from the Town Hall Gardens. A copy of the Memorial Register is kept in the Naval Chapel of Brompton Garrison Church and may be consulted there.

The keys to the church are held at the Gate House, which is always manned. Copies of the Memorial Register may also be consulted at: Chatham Library - Tel: 01634 337799 Medway Archives & Local Studies Centre - Tel: 01634 332714. As a result of constant vandalism at the Memorial, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission has had to arrange for it to be regularly patrolled and public access limited to the period from 08.30 to 17.00. Should for any reason the Memorial be closed during the stated hours, please telephone the Guard Room at Brompton Barracks on 01634 822442 who will arrange for the gates to be opened. Any inconvenience to visitors is greatly regretted.

Details reproduced from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission web site.

Last updated 18 July, 2016

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