There are many fine war memorials across London to different regiments, corps and units. Few though are as impressive as that raised to the memory of those from the Royal Artillery who died in the Great War. This enormous memorial was designed by Charles Sargeant Jagger and unveiled in 1925. The memorial quickly became an iconic landmark, sitting as it does on Hyde Park Corner, and commemorative postcards were soon available of the monument:
The memorial consists of a Portland stone cruciform base supporting a one-third over-lifesize sculpture of a howitzer (a type of artillery field gun), which Jagger based on a gun in the Imperial War Museum. At the end of each arm of the cross is a sculpture of a soldier—an officer at the front (south side), a shell carrier on the east side, a driver on the west side, and at the rear (north) a dead soldier. The sides of the base are decorated with relief sculptures depicting wartime scenes. The realism of the memorial, with the depiction of the howitzer and the dead soldier, differed significantly from other First World War memorials, notably the influential Cenotaph, which used pure architectural forms and classical symbolism. The design was controversial when unveiled; some critics viewed the dead soldier as too graphic or felt that the howitzer did not lend itself to rendition in stone. Nonetheless, the memorial was popular with others, including ex-servicemen, and later came to be recognised as Jagger’s masterpiece and one of Britain’s finest war memorials.
A set of bronze tablets was added to the south of the memorial in 1949, lying on a flat plinth which replaced a set of steps. Designed by Darcy Braddel, the addition commemorates 29,924 Royal Artillerymen who were killed in the Second World War. Over the years, pollution and water penetration caused damage to the bronzes and stonework. English Heritage conducted a major restoration of the memorial during 2011, completed in time for Armistice Day.