Tuesday, 13 August 2013

This Month`s Good Cause - The Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Time to turn our attention to my ongoing `This Month`s Good Cause` project.

As seasoned followers of this blog will know, the idea is that each month I highlight something I personally regard as being a good cause that others may wish to support.

My plan is that over a period of time I will strike a balance between local, national and international initiatives, though it remains to be seen how practical that is !

Anyway, this month, I want to highlight the work of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

The CWGC, which exists to commemorate the 1,700,000 men and women of the Commonwealth forces who died in the two world wars, was the brainchild of Major General (later Sir) Fabian Ware (1869 - 1949).

During World War One, Ware was Commander of a Red Cross ambulance unit. He was disturbed by the level of casualties and was troubled by the fact that there was no system in place for marking and recording the graves of those killed (in those days, there was no facility for the bodies of the fallen to be brought home*).

His unit began the work of recording the location of graves and it was decided that they should be transferred to the Army and be given a new title, the Graves Registration Commission (later to become the Imperial War Graves Commission and then the Commonwealth War Graves Commission). The CWGC is now part of the Commonwealth Secretariat

Ware was keen to foster a spirit of co-operation between the nations of what was then the Empire and in that respect we should remember that there was no conscription in the Commonwealth - the Empire/Commonwealth forces were all volunteers (this holds true for both World Wars).

That`s enough history, so lets` turn our attention to the CWGCs` current activities. Their current newsletter is so comprehensive that I can`t possibly do justice to it in its` entirety, but I will just highlight a few items ;

* As we approach 2014, preparations are underway to mark to Centenary of World War One. I will return to that subject in due course.

* Last month, the CWGC erected headstones to mark the graves of five newly identified Australian soldiers. The graves were rededicated in the presence of their families at Fromelles Military Cemetery on 19 July.

* An interesting feature highlights the fact that 7,900 Commonwealth War Dead from WW2 are buried in Bangladesh and looks at Chittagong 1939 - 1945 War Memorial which commemorates almost 6,500 Indian sailors lost at sea during those years.

Rather than bang on too much, I`ll close by referring you to the CWGC web site for more info -


* Nick Osmond - `War Memorials` - http://angpav.blogspot.com , 13 June 2012

And also...

If this article was of interest to you, you may also like to see these ;

All Party Parliamentary War Graves Heritage Group - www.wargravesheritage.org.uk

War Graves Photographic Project - http://twgpp.org

The Memorial Gates Trust - (http://mgtrust.org) This organisation commemorates "the five million men and women from the Indian subcontinent, Africa and the Caribbean who volunteered to serve with the Armed Forces during the First and second World Wars" and "the contribution that these men and women, and their descendants. members of the Commonwealth family, continue to make to the rich diversity of British society."

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