Press Clippings

The Jamaica War Memorial or Cenotaph

The series on Jamaica Historical Structures” continues, highlighting famous monuments, structures and building throughout the island. It is being presented in collaboration with the Institute of Jamaica, and today we focus on the Jamaica War Memorial or Cenotaph in Kingston.

The Cenotaph or Jamaica War Memorial stands in the National Heroes’ Park, Kingston, as a memorial to the thousands of Jamaicans who died in World Wars I and II. The name “cenotaph” means a monument which is erected in honour of a person (or persons) who are buried elsewhere.  The Jamaica War Memorial was originally erected on Church Street in Kingston in 1922 in memory of those who died in the First World War. In 1953, the Cenotaph with its 1 1/2 ton cross was dismantled and re-erected at its present location.

At the time, the park was known as the George VI Memorial Park, established on the former Kingston Race Course in honour of the late King of England. After Jamaica became Independent, the park was redesigned and renamed National Heroes’ Park.

On Remembrance Day in November and other special occasions, wreaths are laid at the Cenotaph in memory of those who died. The epitaph on the white monument reads: “In memory of the men who fell in the great war. Their name liveth for evermore.”

Smaller cenotaphs in memory of the Jamaican war dead can also be found in various parishes. A new feature relating to the cenotaph is that soldiers from the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) now occupy National Heroes’ Park to guard the war memorial.

A ceremonial changing of the guard takes place on the first Sunday of each month at 9 a.m., complemented by the music by the Jamaica Military Band.

The guard is known as the Heroes’ Circle Guard and they are changed every 48 hours – or every Monday, Wednesday and Friday when a fresh set of troops replaces those on duty.

The ceremonial guards take up duties at the cenotaph at 8 a.m. each day for one hour. During the one-hour period, the two sentries perform a series of drills, which the public can view. Barracks, constructed at the eastern end of the park, are equipped with basic facilities such as bedding, recreation area, kitchen and toilet facilities and capable of accommodating about 18 soldiers at a time.