In memoriam 2014

Veterans from the Black Watch at their Regiments memorial hear how SmartWater works.

The SmartWater Foundation is working in partnership with War Memorials Trust to locate, log and protect as many of the 100,000 war memorials there are in the UK, providing all the products, services and support, free of charge. 

Frequently, war memorials are the only remaining public record of those who made the ultimate sacrifice in armed conflicts and are a physical representation of the community’s pride, grief and commitment to remembering them.  Many were paid for by the communities themselves and have remained the focal point for Remembrance Day parades for decades. 

Sadly, in recent years, some of these memorials have been stolen by thieves who sold them as scrap metal, but the extra protection provided by the application of a unique SmartWater® forensic solution has helped reduce the number of such incidents.

HRH The Duchess of Cornwall is Patron of our partners War Memorials Trust and has actively supported In Memoriam 2014 including, on occasion, applying SmartWater to a number of high profile, historic war memorials.


War Memorials Trust and the SmartWater Foundation are working in partnership to locate, log and protect thousands of war memorials across the United Kingdom using cutting edge forensic technology. In Memoriam 2014 is supported by the Royal British Legion and the Cadet Forces.

As the name suggests the project launched in the run-up to the centenary of World War I to help communities preserve their war memorial heritage. Having been used by communities accross the country through the 2014-18 period, the project continues today for those yet to benefit from the free support. 

In Memoriam 2014 protects war memorials at risk of theft or damage by marking them with SmartWater. The crime prevention fluid, which is being made available at no charge, not only makes war memorials uniquely identifiable, it also offers robust traceability should a theft occur. It is a high temperature solution that will withstand burning and melting making it harder for criminals to dispose of stolen metals. 

Academic research carried out by Perpetuity Research Group on over 100 criminals demonstrated that 91% were aware of SmartWater whilst


74% said that it would deter them from carrying out criminal activity if they knew SmartWater was being used. This demonstrates that SmartWater will act as a significant deterrent to those considering desecrating our war memorials and will substantially increase the chances of their detection and subsequent arrest.

It is believed there are around 100,000 war memorials in the UK with the earliest on record from the 7th century. Memorials range from crosses to bridges, from buildings to fabric and fittings within churches, from plaques to lighthouses, to name just a few types.

The concept of In Memoriam 2014 is to encourage local communities and youth groups to identify and get involved with war memorials. The information obtained from those that apply will be used by War Memorials Trust to help its work protecting and conserving war memorials. The increased awareness of war memorial issues that this campaign has created has helped the charity to promote the importance of best conservation practice through its advisory and grant-making activities.



Frequently Asked Questions

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, a memorial is a “sign of remembrance; preserving or intended to preserve the memory of a person or thing”. It is believed there are around 100,000 war memorials in the UK with the earliest on record from the 7th century. Memorials range from crosses to bridges, from buildings to fabric and fittings within churches, from plaques to lighthouses, to name just a few types. For further information please see War Memorials Trust’s helpsheet ‘Definition of a war memorial.

SmartWater is a crime prevention fluid which will make memorials uniquely identifiable and offer robust traceability should a theft occur. It is a high temperature solution that can withstand burning or melting making it harder for criminals to dispose of stolen memorials. Academic research carried out by Perpetuity Research Group on over 100 criminals demonstrated that professional criminals are deterred by the product. Furthermore, SmartWater has a 100% conviction rate. For more information please visit the SmartWater website.

In Memoriam 2014 is specifically designed for at risk metal components; however, if you are concerned about other components such as stone, we can assess these cases and issue a SmartWater stone marking product if appropriate to a historic monument. Care should be taken when considering applying anything to a product, so any solution should follow best conservation practice. Contact In Memoriam 2014 to discuss this.

In Memoriam 2014 is open to the whole of the United Kingdom. This includes England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales and Crown Territories of Channel Islands and Isle of Man.

Everyone is encouraged to apply for In Memoriam 2014 but SmartWater should only be applied by the custodian of a war memorial or with the clear permission of the custodian of a war memorial. It is not appropriate to register for SmartWater as an individual and go round and apply this to multiple war memorials without submitting each memorial as this may create duplication and confuse the project. If you believe a war memorial needs to be protected you should encourage the custodian to apply, if they are not responsive then contact the In Memoriam 2014 team and we will contact the custodian to encourage them to get involved with the project.

You should firstly identify whether a memorial is a scheduled monument, listed or in a conservation area. If it is then the relevant statutory consents may be required. The custodian should be aware of its status, if not you can contact the Conservation Officer at the local planning authority to determine whether permission is required. You may also be able to check this on the websites of the relevant national heritage body:
Historic England: The National Heritage List of England
Historic Scotland: Listed Buildings
Cadw: Search records
Northern Ireland: Buildings database

Thanks to the SmartWater Foundation, SmartWater is being made available free of charge to those who look after war memorials. To apply, please fill in the application form. The application will be assessed before the solution is sent out. This process may take up to two months depending on the number of applications and the information provided by the applicant.

We need to know the location of a war memorial, the custodian (if there is one – see below) and we request a photograph be sent in with the application form (and that copyright details and permission for the photograph be given to enable the project and partners to use this).

A custodian is an individual or organisation that has taken responsibility of a war memorial. Often this has been done through a transfer of ownership. For more information see War Memorials Trust’s helpsheet ‘Ownership of war memorials.

For comprehensive information on how to identify the custodian of a war memorial, please see War Memorials Trust’s helpsheets ‘Ownership of war memorials’ and ‘Researching the history of a war memorial’.

Occasionally a war memorial does not have a custodian but often it can be found with research. After all avenues to find an existing custodian have been exhausted, In Memoriam 2014 will discuss the way forward on a case-by-case basis. We will ask the applicant if they are willing to take responsibility for that particular memorial.

The custodian needs to seek permission from In Memoriam 2014 to register for the project but if, for some reason, the custodian is unable to physically apply the SmartWater solution, anybody could do it for them. A professional is not needed. Application guidelines will be sent with the SmartWater solution and should there be any more queries, please contact In Memoriam 2014.

The most vulnerable types of war memorials are those that have metal components. Unfortunately, with the cost of scrap metal rising, plaques, sculpture and other metal components have been stolen in increasing numbers during the last few years. SmartWater is to be applied to an inconspicuous area of the metal (for example, the side of the panel or the underside of a sculpture). In Memoriam 2014 will consider processing other applications for SmartWater if there are vulnerable components but only if this follows best conservation practice. Advice on applying the product can be obtained from In Memoriam 2014 if you are uncertain where it would be most appropriate.

SmartWater needs to be applied to each metal component of the war memorial. For instance, if there is a bronze statue as well as bronze plaques, each of these need to have SmartWater applied in case any part of the memorial is targeted. The application guidelines included in the SmartWater pack give information on how to apply and how much should be applied.

Please read the appropriate guidelines from the government about working at height.

After you receive the solution, apply it to the war memorial as soon as possible. We then ask that you fill in the Statement of Registration and send it back to us so that we can update the database and accurately record when and where the SmartWater was administered. Police are regularly updated with where SmartWater has been applied and also with any incidents so SmartWater will pass on this information.

We appreciate that SmartWater is a deterrent and that signage does deter criminals from attempting to steal vulnerable items. However, placing commercial signage around items such as war memorials could be inappropriate because of their emotional significance and importance in our heritage landscape. SmartWater are therefore not providing the stickers and signage that generally come with SmartWater. Instead, a national print and marketing campaign about In Memoriam 2014 will alert criminals to the fact that we are applying SmartWater on all memorials at risk of being vandalised. We also recommend that custodians try to ensure that information about the application of SmartWater is reported in the local press so any local thieves are alerted to this.

SmartWater is designed to be extremely robust and providing the application guidelines are followed correctly it is virtually impossible to remove. In an external environment, in an area exposed to weathering, we guarantee SmartWater will remain effective for at least 5 years. This can be checked by shining a UV torch at the marked area.

SmartWater is regularly used on heritage buildings including places of worship and has no lasting impact on structure or materials. For more information about the product itself, please contact the project.

War Memorials Trust can assist with concerns about the condition of a war memorial. You should add details on War Memorials Online, completing the Condition Survey on the condition tab for the war memorial or contact 020 7233 7356 or email to discuss the case. Please include photographs as these are needed to enable us to provide advice.

When a memorial is registered with In Memoriam 2014 and the Statement of Registration is returned, the details are recorded on the database at the SmartWater office. This information is shared with the police. If a theft or vandalism does occur after the application of SmartWater, please contact In Memoriam 2014 so that it can be logged and to discuss the next steps. War Memorials Trust should also be advised as they may be able to assist with advice, or a grant, to enable any damage to be repaired appropriately.

Please make sure that the war memorial appears on War Memorials Online. You can upload photographs, background information and details about condition.

With the anniversary of the start of the World War I in 2014, War Memorials Trust and the SmartWater Foundation felt 2014 would provide an ideal date to aim to protect UK war memorials by. It was also hoped that In Memoriam 2014 would raise awareness of the significance of war memorials prior to the 2014-18 commemorations. Following the success of that, the project has continued beyond the centenary of the World War I.

Please email the project, phone 0845 850 9881 or send post to: In Memoriam 2014 c/o – War Memorials Trust, 14 Buckingham Palace Road, London, SW1W 0QP.

War Memorials Trust has been collating the press coverage that In Memoriam 2014 has received. Please see here for press coverage and here for television and radio.

If you feel there may be a breach of copyright or that someone has uploaded to the project an image for which they do not hold the copyright then please advise us and we will investigate. Any reports should be sent to and have COPYRIGHT in the subject heading. We will need your contact details to enable us to respond to you as well as the reference number and details of the memorial with information on the issue you are raising. Information about Intellectual Property Rights can be found in section 3 of the Terms and Conditions.


For further press information please visit the In Memoriam 2014 press page on War Memorials Trust’s website.
Information about the coverage the campaign has generated can be found on the Press pages of War Memorials Trust’s website.




By uploading an image you are giving permission and assigning all rights in respect to copyright to War Memorials Trust and the SmartWater Foundation to use the image for non-commercial purposes. In the event of a theft or damage to the War Memorial, SmartWater Foundation may share images and Custodian information with War Memorials Trust who may contact the Custodian to provide assistance. This information will not be shared with any third party.

Some memorials are subject to statutory protection i.e. they are listed, scheduled monuments or are sited in a conservation area. In such cases permission may be required to apply SmartWater. You should check if a memorial is protected as it can be an offence to undertake works on a protected memorial without permission.