The Cross of Sacrifice

The Cross of Sacrifice is a Commonwealth war memorial designed in 1918 by Sir Reginald Blomfield for the Imperial War Graves Commission (now the Commonwealth War Graves Commission). It is present in Commonwealth war cemeteries containing 40 or more graves. Its shape is an elongated Latin cross with proportions more typical of the Celtic cross, with the shaft and crossarm octagonal in section. It ranges in height from 18 to 24 feet (5.5 to 7.3 m). A bronze longsword, blade down, is affixed to the front of the cross (and sometimes to the back as well). It is usually mounted on an octagonal base. It may be freestanding or incorporated into other cemetery features.

The Cross of Sacrifice is widely praised, widely imitated, and the archetypal British war memorial. It is the most imitated of Commonwealth war memorials, and duplicates and imitations have been used around the world.

The Cross of Sacrifice is carved from white stone. This is usually Portland stone, but it is sometimes granite or any type of white limestone commonly found in France or Belgium. In Italy, Chiampo Perla limestone was used.

The proportions of the cross, with short arms close to the top of the shaft are similar to some Celtic crosses, the crossarm being one-third the length of the shaft (as measured from the point where the shaft emerges from the base). The cross consists of three pieces: The shaft, from base to crossarm; the crossarm; and the upper shaft, above the crossarm. The crossarm is fastened to the lower and upper shaft by two bronze dowels.

A joggle (a portion of the shaft which extends into the base, acting as a joint) about 6 inches (15 cm) long extends into the base, where it is secured by another bronze dowel. The shaft and crossarm are both octagonal in shape, and the shaft tapers slightly as it rises to give the cross entasis.

On the large size version, there are three plain mouldings on the shaft near the base, often reduced to one in smaller sizes, and the three extremities of the cross finish at a plain moulding projecting sideways from the main element. The crossarms are sometimes irregular octagons in section, with four wide faces at front, back, top and bottom, and four shorter faces in between them.

A stylized bronze longsword, point down, is fastened to the front of the cross. The cross is designed so that a second bronze sword may be fastened to the rear as well. The sword is positioned so that the crossguard on the sword matches where the cross' shaft and crossarm meet.

The Cross of Sacrifice originally came in four heights: 14 feet (4.3 m), 18 feet (5.5 m), 20 feet (6.1 m), and 24 feet (7.3 m). Sizes up to 30 feet (9.1 m) are now permitted;[67] exceptionally so too larger versions. As of 2012, the largest stands as the 40-foot (12 m) instance at the Halifax Memorial in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. The shaft is fastened to an octagonal base. The size of the base varies, according to the height of the shaft, but the 24-foot (7.3 m) high cross has a base 15 feet 6 inches (4.72 m) in diameter. This largest base weighs 2 short tons (1.8 t). The base usually sits on three octagonal steps.

This can vary, however, depending on the height of the cross, its placement in the cemetery, and whether it is part of some other cemetery element.