The memorial commemorates the 127 men from the Borough Polytechnic Institute who lost their lives during the First World War. Staff, students and relatives paid for the memorial, which was dedicated in 1921 by the Bishop of Southwark, who hoped it would, 'help to weave into the lives of others who study here and who come within this hall the memory and the example of those who died... [and make] successive generations feel that they are becoming members of a corporate society, of real fellowship.'
The Polytechnic's student common room (today's digital gallery) was the memorials first home, but when the room was converted into a telephone exchange in the 1960s, the memorial was placed into storage. Rediscovered in 1996, the University restored and re-erected the memorial in the Edric Hall. The hall's refurbishment in 2004 meant the memorial was once again put into storage.
Over the Easter holiday of 2010, the Estates & Facilities Department, in consultation with the Chaplain and University Archivist, arranged for the memorial to be assembled in its current location which provides the memorial with a permanent home as close as possible to its original location and allows room for public commemoration.