AT their heart, nearly all of our towns and villages have some form of a war memorial, many of which were unveiled 100 years ago before large crowds.

Ever since, these memorials have been central to public remembrance, with parades marching to them and increasingly large numbers of people gathering to pay their respects to the fallen in all conflicts.

Covid-19 will change all that. Although there may still be services, the numbers attending will be greatly reduced, with many local authorities discouraging people from attending.

Most of our memorials date from the First World War in which three-quarters of a million British lives were lost, and practically every family and every street was touched.

The government policy that the dead should not be repatriated left a great void, especially for ordinary people would did not travel overseas, and so local communities began raising funds to build memorials which would become a focal point for people’s grief.

One of the first memorials in our area was a 14ft obelisk unveiled in Etherley, near Bishop Auckland, on August 7, 1920, by Sir Arthur Francis Pease. Pease, who had just been knighted in honour of his war work with the Government and for raising the 18th Durham Light Infantry, told his large audience that the moment was there to honour the dead and “to soften, if possible, the sorrow of the bereaved”.

He also said: “In my opinion, England at the present time is the happiest land in the world, and this is owing very largely to the sacrifices made by such men as those whose names are inscribed on this monument.”

The North-East War Memorials Project – – is an extraordinary attempt to record every war memorial in Northumberland, Newcastle and County Durham. So far, the website has details for 5,035 memorials and so is a fantastic resource.