This play, broadcast on the ninetieth anniversary
of the end of the First World War, told of the persistence of one General Ware (Anton Lesser) who overcame scepticism, prejudice
and sheer naked indifference to establish the war graves in France, commemorating those who fell
on the Western Front. Wyatt emphasized how difficult Ware’s task was; he had to resolve arguments between the architects
Baker and Edwin Lutyens (Michael Maloney) who squabbled about the design of the graves; contend with religious prejudice from
the British upper class, who objected to the idea on the grounds that it was planned as a multi-faith memorial; and convince
politicians of the value of funding the whole project. Director Peter Hall underlined the importance of Ware’s work
by interspersing the dialogue with voices of fallen soldiers speaking from the dead about their need for recognition. They
did not want to believe that their sacrifice had been in vain; the graves would help to prove this true. One soldier underlined
the point by quoting regularly from Shelley.
The impact of the graves, once they had
been constructed, was considerable; Hall made this point by introducing testimonies from ordinary people (not actors) who
described their experiences of visiting them. This device invested Wyatt’s play with a drama-documentary flavour that
made it appear all the more immediate to listeners. If nothing else, Memorials to the
Missing made it clear that the efforts of those who fought in the War, as well as those who constructed the graves, should
not be forgotten.