Many of those who died as a result of their membership of the armed services during wars before the First World War were buried close to their place of death and were not commemorated by their community.
The earliest communal memorials appear to date to the South African War (Boer War or Anglo-Boer War, 1899-1902).
Only 25 bodies of British soldiers who were killed during the First World War were repatriated, so memorials to the many who were killed were erected in most parishes, often inside the church or in the churchyard. Wreaths were placed around these memorials on Armistice day (11th November or the nearest Sunday) from the date of their erection.
It is possible that the custom of placing garlands of flowers in the church following the death of a young virgin in some parts of Britain, was the origin of placing garlands in churches, or on the tombs of, or memorials to, soldiers.
Flowering Sunday had its usual manifestations in Swansea and district on this occasion, and as the day was dry and bright enormous crowds visited the cemeteries. A fresh feature was imported, one calculated to appeal strongly to popular sentiment, in the muster of the United Service Brigade, for depositing a wreath at the foot of the South African War monument, bearing the appropriate inscription, “Lest we forget.”
Cambrian (newspaper), 25.3.1910