The Glorious Dead Cenotaph is located on the northern end of the Calcutta Maidan, diagonally opposite to the Akashvani Bhawan and adjacent to the statue of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. Built in 1924, It was dedicated to the memory of the Calcutta based British and Anglo-Indian soldiers who fought to glorify the King and the Country, and died in the First World War between 1914 and 1918.
A cenotaph is not a regular tomb, it is rather an empty tomb or a monument erected in the honour and memory of a departed soul or a group of people whose remains are buried elsewhere. Calcutta has three memorial monuments, which were built and dedicated to the memory of the Indian soldiers who died in the First World War.
The Glorious Dead Cenotaph is the most prominent among them. It is a simple, dignified and massive sandstone memorial, built in 1924.Designed by Architect Herbert William Palliser on the lines of the cenotaph of Whitehall in London the Cenotaph in Calcutta is devoid of any ornamentation, except the two wreaths on either side.
The top portion of the southern and northern sides of the memorial bears the inscription of MCMXIV and MCMXVIII, which stands for the Roman numerals representing 1914 and 1918 respectively, while the lower portion of the eastern side contains the inscription ‘Glorious Dead’. For reasons unknown, the original brass plaques, containing the names of the fallen soldiers were shifted to the St. John’s Church. All of the names recorded on those plaques are British names, which clearly indicate that this was an Anglo-Indian monument and not an Indian monument.
Two bronze statues of British soldiers, with heads bowed and bayoneted rifles at reverse-arms stand as the silent sentries at the entrance of the area. The statues, painted in black, were imported from England. It was unveiled in 1921by the Prince of Wales, who later became Edward VIII.
A Ceremonial Remembrance Service is held at the Glorious Dead Cenotaph every year on the Sunday nearest to 11 November at 11am, to commemorate the British and Commonwealth army personnel, who died in the two World Wars and the later conflicts.
In the vicinity of the Glorious Dead Cenotaph, recently a new memorial, named as the Police Memorial, has been erected and dedicated to the memory of the Police personnel, who were killed on duty during the period from 1st September, 2008 to 31st August, 2009.