Commonwealth War Graves Commission
Overview
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) is an intergovernmental organisation of six independent member states whose principal function is to mark, record and maintain the graves, and places of commemoration, of Commonwealth of Nations
Commonwealth of Nations
The Commonwealth of Nations, normally referred to as the Commonwealth and formerly known as the British Commonwealth, is an intergovernmental organisation of fifty-four independent member states...

 military service members who died in the two World Wars. The Commission is also responsible for commemorating Commonwealth civilians who died as a result of enemy action during the Second World War.
Encyclopedia
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) is an intergovernmental organisation of six independent member states whose principal function is to mark, record and maintain the graves, and places of commemoration, of Commonwealth of Nations
Commonwealth of Nations
The Commonwealth of Nations, normally referred to as the Commonwealth and formerly known as the British Commonwealth, is an intergovernmental organisation of fifty-four independent member states...

 military service members who died in the two World Wars. The Commission is also responsible for commemorating Commonwealth civilians who died as a result of enemy action during the Second World War. The Commission was founded by Fabian Ware
Fabian Ware
Major General Sir Fabian Arthur Goulstone Ware KCVO, KBE, CB, CMG was the founder of the Imperial War Graves Commission, now the Commonwealth War Graves Commission-Early life:...

 and constituted through Royal Charter
Royal Charter
A royal charter is a formal document issued by a monarch as letters patent, granting a right or power to an individual or a body corporate. They were, and are still, used to establish significant organizations such as cities or universities. Charters should be distinguished from warrants and...

 in 1917 as the Imperial War Graves Commission. The Imperial War Graves Commission amended its name to its present name in 1960.

The Commission, as part of its mandate, is responsible for commemorating all Commonwealth war dead individually and equally. To this effect, the war dead are commemorated by name on either a headstone, at an identified site of a burial, or on a memorial. War dead are commemorated in a uniform and equal fashion, irrespective of military or civil rank, race or creed.

The Commission is currently responsible for the continued commemoration of 1.69 million deceased Commonwealth military service members in 150 countries. Since its inception, the Commission has constructed approximately 2,500 war cemeteries and numerous memorials. The Commission is currently responsible for the care of war dead at over 23,000 separate burial sites and the maintenance of more than 200 memorials worldwide. In addition to commemorating Commonwealth military service members, the Commission maintains, under arrangement with applicable governments, over 40,000 non-Commonwealth war graves and over 25,000 non-war military and civilian graves. The Commission operates through the continued financial support of the member states: United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

, Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

, Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

, New Zealand
New Zealand
New Zealand is an island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two main landmasses and numerous smaller islands. The country is situated some east of Australia across the Tasman Sea, and roughly south of the Pacific island nations of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga...

, India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

 and South Africa
South Africa
The Republic of South Africa is a country in southern Africa. Located at the southern tip of Africa, it is divided into nine provinces, with of coastline on the Atlantic and Indian oceans...

. The current President of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission is Prince Edward, Duke of Kent
Prince Edward, Duke of Kent
The Duke of Kent graduated from the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst on 29 July 1955 as a Second Lieutenant in the Royal Scots Greys, the beginning of a military career that would last over 20 years. He was promoted to captain on 29 July 1961. The Duke of Kent saw service in Hong Kong from 1962–63...

.

First World War

On the outbreak of the First World War in 1914, Fabian Ware
Fabian Ware
Major General Sir Fabian Arthur Goulstone Ware KCVO, KBE, CB, CMG was the founder of the Imperial War Graves Commission, now the Commonwealth War Graves Commission-Early life:...

, a director of the Rio Tinto Company
Rio Tinto Group
The Rio Tinto Group is a diversified, British-Australian, multinational mining and resources group with headquarters in London and Melbourne. The company was founded in 1873, when a multinational consortium of investors purchased a mine complex on the Rio Tinto river, in Huelva, Spain from the...

, found that at 45 he was too old to join the British Army. He used the influence of Rio Tinto chairman, Viscount Milner
Alfred Milner, 1st Viscount Milner
Alfred Milner, 1st Viscount Milner KG, GCB, GCMG, PC was a British statesman and colonial administrator who played an influential leadership role in the formulation of foreign and domestic policy between the mid-1890s and early 1920s...

, to become the commander of a mobile unit of the British Red Cross
British Red Cross
The British Red Cross Society is the United Kingdom branch of the worldwide impartial humanitarian organisation the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. The society was formed in 1870, and is a registered charity with over 31,000 volunteers and 2,600 staff. At the heart of their work...

. He arrived in France in September 1914 and whilst there was struck by the lack of any official mechanism for marking the graves of those who had been killed and felt compelled to create the organisation within the Red Cross for this purpose. In 1915, his work was given official recognition by the Imperial War Office and the unit was transferred to the British Army as the Graves Registration Commission. By October 1915, the new Graves Registration Commission had over 31,000 graves registered and 50,000 by May 1916.

As reports of the grave registration work became public, the commission began to receive letters of enquiry and requests for photographs of graves from relatives of deceased soldiers. In March 1915, the commission, with the support of the Red Cross, began to dispatch photographic prints and useful locational information in answer to the requests. The Graves Registration Commission became the Directorate of Graves Registration and Enquiries in the spring of 1916 in recognition of the fact that the scope of work began to extend beyond simple grave registration and began to include responding to enquiries from relatives of those killed. The directorate's work was also extended beyond the Western Front
Western Front (World War I)
Following the outbreak of World War I in 1914, the German Army opened the Western Front by first invading Luxembourg and Belgium, then gaining military control of important industrial regions in France. The tide of the advance was dramatically turned with the Battle of the Marne...

 and into other theatres of war, with units deployed in Greece, Egypt and Mesopotamia.

Formal establishment

As the war continued, Ware and others became concerned about the fate of the graves in the post-war period. Upon the suggestion by the British Army, the National Committee for the Care of Soldiers Graves was appointed by the British government in January 1916, with Edward, Prince of Wales
Edward VIII of the United Kingdom
Edward VIII was King of the United Kingdom and the Dominions of the British Commonwealth, and Emperor of India, from 20 January to 11 December 1936.Before his accession to the throne, Edward was Prince of Wales and Duke of Cornwall and Rothesay...

 agreeing to serve as president. The National Committee for the Care of Soldiers’ Graves was created with the intention of taking over the work of the Directorate of Graves Registration and Enquiries after the war. The government felt that it was more appropriate to entrust the work to a specially appointed body rather than to any existing government department. By early 1917 a number of members of the committee believed a formal imperial organisation would be needed to care for the graves. With the help of Edward, Prince of Wales
Edward VIII of the United Kingdom
Edward VIII was King of the United Kingdom and the Dominions of the British Commonwealth, and Emperor of India, from 20 January to 11 December 1936.Before his accession to the throne, Edward was Prince of Wales and Duke of Cornwall and Rothesay...

, Ware submitted a memorandum to the Imperial War Conference in 1917 suggesting that an imperial organisation be constituted under Royal Charter. The suggestion was accepted and on 21 May 1917 the Imperial War Graves Commission was established by Royal Charter, with Edward, Prince of Wales serving as president, Secretary of State for War
Secretary of State for War
The position of Secretary of State for War, commonly called War Secretary, was a British cabinet-level position, first held by Henry Dundas . In 1801 the post became that of Secretary of State for War and the Colonies. The position was re-instated in 1854...

 Lord Derby
Edward Stanley, 17th Earl of Derby
Edward George Villiers Stanley, 17th Earl of Derby KG, GCB, GCVO, TD, PC, KGStJ, JP , known as Lord Stanley from 1893 to 1908, was a British soldier, Conservative politician, diplomat and racehorse owner. He was twice Secretary of State for War and also served as British Ambassador to...

 as chairman and Ware as vice-chairman.

The Commission's undertakings began in earnest at the end of the First World War. Once land for cemeteries and memorials had been guaranteed, the enormous task of recording the details of the dead could begin. By 1918, some 587,000 graves had been identified and a further 559,000 casualties were registered as having no known grave. A committee under Frederic Kenyon, Director of the British Museum
British Museum
The British Museum is a museum of human history and culture in London. Its collections, which number more than seven million objects, are amongst the largest and most comprehensive in the world and originate from all continents, illustrating and documenting the story of human culture from its...

, presented a report in November 1918 on how the cemeteries should be developed. Two key elements of this report were that bodies should not be repatriated and that uniform memorials should be used to avoid class distinctions. Beyond the logistical nightmare of returning home so many corpses, it was felt that repatriation would conflict with the feeling of brotherhood that had developed between all serving ranks. Both of these issues generated considerable public discussion, which eventually led to a heated debate in Parliament on 4 May 1920. The matter was eventually settled with Kenyon's proposal being accepted.

First cemeteries

Three of the most eminent architects of their day, Sir Herbert Baker
Herbert Baker
Sir Herbert Baker was a British architect.Baker was the dominant force in South African architecture for two decades, 1892–1912....

, Sir Reginald Blomfield
Reginald Blomfield
Sir Reginald Theodore Blomfield was a prolific British architect, garden designer and author of the Victorian and Edwardian period.- Early life and career :...

, and Sir Edwin Lutyens
Edwin Lutyens
Sir Edwin Landseer Lutyens, OM, KCIE, PRA, FRIBA was a British architect who is known for imaginatively adapting traditional architectural styles to the requirements of his era...

 were commissioned to design the cemeteries and memorials. Following the principals outlined in the Frederic Kenyon report, the Commission built three experimental cemeteries at Le Treport
Le Tréport
Le Tréport is a commune in the Seine-Maritime department in the Haute-Normandie region in northern France.-Geography:A small fishing port and light industrial town situated in the Pays de Caux, some northeast of Dieppe at the junction of the D940, the D78 and the D1015 roads...

, Forceville
Forceville
Forceville is a commune in the Somme department in Picardie in northern France.-Geography:Situated on the D938 road, some northwest of Amiens.On 18 December 1915 the 107th Machine Gun Corps was established here as part of the 36th Division....

 and Louvencourt
Louvencourt
Louvencourt is a commune in the Somme department in Picardie in northern France.-Geography:Louvencourt is situated northeast of Amiens, on the D938 road-Population:-External links:*...

. Of these, the one located at Forceville was agreed to be the most successful. Having consulted with garden designer Gertrude Jekyl, the architects created a walled cemetery with uniform headstones in a garden setting, augmented by Blomfield’s Cross of Sacrifice
Cross of Sacrifice
The Cross of Sacrifice was designed by Sir Reginald Blomfield for the Imperial War Graves Commission and is usually present in Commonwealth war cemeteries containing 40 or more graves. It is normally a freestanding four point limestone Latin cross in one of three sizes ranging in height from 18 to...

 and Lutyens’ Stone of Remembrance
Stone of Remembrance
The Stone of Remembrance was designed by the British architect Sir Edwin Lutyens for the Imperial War Graves Commission . It was designed to commemorate the dead of World War I, to be used in IWGC war cemeteries containing 1000 or more graves, or at memorial sites commemorating more than 1000 war...

. After some adjustments, Forceville became the template for the Commission’s building program.

At the end of 1919, the Commission had spent £7,500, and this figure rose to £250,000 in 1920 as construction of cemeteries and memorials increased. 4,000 headstones a week were being sent to France in 1923. In 1927, when the majority of construction had been completed, over 500 cemeteries had been built, with 400,000 headstones and 1,000 Crosses of Sacrifice. In many cases small cemeteries were closed and the graves concentrated in larger ones. The cemetery building and grave concentration programme was completed in 1938, just before the outbreak of the Second World War.

Architects and sculptors

As well as the main Principal Architects for France and Belgium (Baker, Blomfield and Lutyens), there were Principal Architects appointed for other regions as well. Sir Robert Lorimer
Robert Lorimer
Sir Robert Stodart Lorimer was a prolific Scottish architect noted for his restoration work on historic houses and castles, and for promotion of the Arts and Crafts style.-Early life:...

 was Principal Architect for Italy, Macedonia and Egypt, while Sir John James Burnet
John James Burnet
Sir John James Burnet was a Scottish Edwardian architect who was noted for a number of prominent buildings in Glasgow, Scotland and London, England...

 was Principal Architect for Palestine and Gallipoli, assisted by Thomas Smith Tait. The Principal Architect for Mesopotamia was Edward Prioleau Warren
Edward Prioleau Warren
Edward Prioleau Warren was a British architect and archaeologist.-Life:He was born at Cotham in Bristol, England on 30 October 1856, as the fifth son of A. W. Warren, JP. He was educated at Clifton College in Bristol, and subsequently articled to G.F. Bodley, whose biography he later wrote...

. In 1943 Sir Edward Maufe
Edward Maufe
Sir Edward Brantwood Maufe KBE, R.A, F.R.I.B.A. was an English architect and designer, noted chiefly for his work on places of worship and remembrance memorials. He was a skilled interior designer and designed many pieces of furniture...

 was appointed as a chief designer and worked extensively for the commission for 25 years. He remained there as the principal architect and then chief architect and artistic advisor until 1969.

As well as these senior architects, there was a team of Assistant Architects who were actually responsible for many of the cemetery and memorial designs. These architects were younger, and many of them had served in the war. The Assistant Architects were: George Esselmont Gordon Leith, Wilfred Clement von Berg
Wilfred Clement Von Berg
Captain Wilfrid Clement von Berg MC was a British architect.Croydon-born Von Berg began to study architecture in 1912. During World War I he served with the London Rifle Brigade. At the end of the conflict he joined the Imperial War Graves Commission as an assistant architect...

, Charles Henry Holden (who in 1920 became a Principal Architect), William Harrison Cowlishaw
William Harrison Cowlishaw
William Harrison Cowlishaw was a British architect of the European Arts and Crafts school and a follower of William Morris.He lived in Norton, Hertfordshire, at that time something of an artists' colony...

, William Bryce Binnie, George Hartley Goldsmith, Frank Higginson, Arthur James Scott Hutton, Noel Ackroyd Rew, and John Reginald Truelove. Other architects that worked for the Commission, or won competitions for the Commission memorials, included Harold Chalton Bradshaw, Sawley Nicol, Verner Owen Rees, Gordon H. Holt, and Henry Philip Cart de Lafontaine..

Sculptors that worked on the memorials and cemeteries after World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

 included Eric Henri Kennington, Charles Thomas Wheeler, William Reid Dick
William Reid Dick
Sir William Reid, Dick was a Scottish sculptor known for his innovative stylization of form in his monument sculptures and simplicity in his portraits. He became an Associate of the Royal Academy in 1921, and a Royal Academician in 1928. Dick served as president of the Royal Society of British...

, Gilbert Ledward
Gilbert Ledward
Gilbert Ledward RA , was an English sculptor.He won the Prix de Rome for sculpture in 1913, and in World War I served in the Royal Garrison Artillery and later as a war artist. He was professor of sculpture at the Royal College of Art and in 1937 was elected a Royal Academician...

, Ernest Gillick
Ernest Gillick
Ernest Gillick was a British sculptor.Gillick studied at the Nottingham School of Art and the Royal College of Art in London. His first important commission was for the figures of J.M.W...

, Basil Gotto, Charles Sargeant Jagger
Charles Sargeant Jagger
Charles Sargeant Jagger MC was a British sculptor who, following active service in the First World War, sculpted many works on the theme of war...

, Alfred Turner, and Laurence A. Turner.

Second World War

From the start of the Second World War in 1939, the Commission had a graves registration unit. With the increased number of civilian casualties compared with the First World War, Winston Churchill
Winston Churchill
Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill, was a predominantly Conservative British politician and statesman known for his leadership of the United Kingdom during the Second World War. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest wartime leaders of the century and served as Prime Minister twice...

 agreed to Ware's proposal that the Commission also maintain a record of Commonwealth civilian war deaths. This book, containing the names of nearly 67,000 men, women and children, has been kept in Westminster Abbey
Westminster Abbey
The Collegiate Church of St Peter at Westminster, popularly known as Westminster Abbey, is a large, mainly Gothic church, in the City of Westminster, London, United Kingdom, located just to the west of the Palace of Westminster. It is the traditional place of coronation and burial site for English,...

 since 1956. When the war began turning toward the Allies favour, the Commission was able to begin restoring its 1914-1918 cemeteries and memorials to their pre-war standard. So too, it began the task of commemorating the 600,000 Commonwealth casualties from the Second World War. In 1949, the commission completed Dieppe Canadian War Cemetery
Dieppe Canadian War Cemetery
The Dieppe Canadian War Cemetery is a cemetery in France containing Canadian and British soldiers who were killed during the Dieppe Raid in 1942.944 members of the Allied Armed Forces are interred at Dieppe, of which 707 are Canadian...

, the first of 559 new cemeteries and 36 new memorials. Eventually, over 350,000 new headstones were erected. The wider scale of the Second World War, coupled with manpower shortages and unrest in some countries, meant that the construction programme was not completed until the 1960s.

Burial sites and memorials

The Commission is currently responsible for the continued commemoration of 1.69 million deceased Commonwealth military service members in 150 countries and approximately 67,000 civilians who died as a result of enemy action during the Second World War. Commonwealth military service members are commemorated by name on either a headstone, at an identified site of a burial, or on a memorial. As a result, the Commission is currently responsible for the care of war dead at over 23,000 separate burial sites and maintenance of more than 200 memorials worldwide. The vast majority of burial sites are pre-existing communal cemeteries located in the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

, however the Commission has itself constructed approximately 2,500 war cemeteries worldwide. The Commission has also constructed or commissioned memorials to commemorate the dead who have no known grave; the largest of these is the Thiepval Memorial.

The Commission only commemorates those who have died during the designated war years, while in Commonwealth military service or of causes attributable to service. The applicable periods of consideration are 4 August 1914 to 31 August 1921 for the First World War and 3 September 1939 to 31 December 1947 for Second World War. Civilians who died as a result of enemy action during the Second World War are commemorated differently than those that died as a result of military service. They are commemorated by name through the Civilian War Dead Roll of Honour located in St George’s Chapel in Westminster Abbey
Westminster Abbey
The Collegiate Church of St Peter at Westminster, popularly known as Westminster Abbey, is a large, mainly Gothic church, in the City of Westminster, London, United Kingdom, located just to the west of the Palace of Westminster. It is the traditional place of coronation and burial site for English,...

. In addition to its mandated duties, the Commission maintains, under arrangement with applicable governments, over 40,000 non-Commonwealth war graves and over 25,000 non-war military and civilian graves.

Architecture

Structural design has always played an important part in the Commission’s cemeteries. A typical cemetery is surrounded by a masonry wall with an entrance through wrought iron gates. In larger sites a stainless steel notice gives details of the respective military campaign. In all but the smallest cemeteries, a bronze register box is present containing an inventory of the burials and a plan of the plots and rows. Typically, cemeteries of more than 40 graves have a Cross of Sacrifice
Cross of Sacrifice
The Cross of Sacrifice was designed by Sir Reginald Blomfield for the Imperial War Graves Commission and is usually present in Commonwealth war cemeteries containing 40 or more graves. It is normally a freestanding four point limestone Latin cross in one of three sizes ranging in height from 18 to...

 designed by architect Reginald Blomfield
Reginald Blomfield
Sir Reginald Theodore Blomfield was a prolific British architect, garden designer and author of the Victorian and Edwardian period.- Early life and career :...

. A simple cross embedded with a bronze broadsword
Broadsword
Broadsword may refer to:*Broadsword , a military sword used by heavy cavalry during the 17th to early 19th centuriesIn more modern times, it has also been used to refer to:...

 and mounted on an octagonal base to represent the faith of the majority of commemorations. Those with more than 1000 burials typically have a Stone of Remembrance
Stone of Remembrance
The Stone of Remembrance was designed by the British architect Sir Edwin Lutyens for the Imperial War Graves Commission . It was designed to commemorate the dead of World War I, to be used in IWGC war cemeteries containing 1000 or more graves, or at memorial sites commemorating more than 1000 war...

, designed by Edwin Lutyens
Edwin Lutyens
Sir Edwin Landseer Lutyens, OM, KCIE, PRA, FRIBA was a British architect who is known for imaginatively adapting traditional architectural styles to the requirements of his era...

, to commemorate those of all faiths and none respectively. The geometry of the structure was based on studies of the Parthenon
Parthenon
The Parthenon is a temple on the Athenian Acropolis, Greece, dedicated to the Greek goddess Athena, whom the people of Athens considered their virgin patron. Its construction began in 447 BC when the Athenian Empire was at the height of its power. It was completed in 438 BC, although...

 and steers purposefully clear of shapes associated with any particular religion.
Individual graves are arranged, where possible, in straight rows and marked by uniform headstones, the vast majority of which are made of Portland stone
Portland stone
Portland stone is a limestone from the Tithonian stage of the Jurassic period quarried on the Isle of Portland, Dorset. The quarries consist of beds of white-grey limestone separated by chert beds. It has been used extensively as a building stone throughout the British Isles, notably in major...

. Unlike French, German, or American graves, the headstones are rectangles with rounded tops. Most headstones are inscribed with a cross, except for those deceased known to be atheist or non-Christian. Differentiated only by their inscriptions: the national emblem or regimental badge, rank, name, unit, date of death and age of each casualty is inscribed above an appropriate religious symbol and a more personal dedication chosen by relatives. In the case of burials of Victoria Cross recipients, the regimental badge is replaced by the Victoria Cross emblem. Many gravestones are for unidentified casualties; they consequently bear only what could be discovered from the body.

In places prone to extreme weather or earthquakes, such as Thailand and Turkey, stone-faced pedestal markers are used instead of the normal headstones and the freestanding Cross of Sacrifice is replaced with one built into a wall. These measures are intended to prevent masonry being damaged during earthquakes or sinking into sodden ground. In Struma Military Cemetery, in Greece, to avoid risk of earthquake damage, small headstones are laid flat on the ground. The smaller size of the markers mean that they lack unit insignia.

Horticulture

Commission cemeteries are distinctive in treating floriculture
Floriculture
Floriculture, or flower farming, is a discipline of horticulture concerned with the cultivation of flowering and ornamental plants for gardens and for floristry, comprising the floral industry...

 as an integral part of the cemetery design. Originally, the horticultural concept was to create an environment where visitors could experience a sense of peace in a setting, in contrast to traditionally bleak graveyards. Recommendations given by the Assistant Director of the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew enabled the Commission to develop cemetery layouts and architectural structures that took into account the placement of suitable plant life. Combining structural and horticultural elements was not unfamiliar to the Commission’s architects. Sir Edwin Lutyens furthered his long-standing working relationship with horticulturist Gertrude Jekyll
Gertrude Jekyll
Gertrude Jekyll was an influential British garden designer, writer, and artist. She created over 400 gardens in the UK, Europe and the USA and contributed over 1,000 articles to Country Life, The Garden and other magazines.-Early life:...

, whose devotion to traditional cottage garden plants and roses greatly influenced the appearance of the cemeteries. Where possible, indigenous plants were utilised to enhance sentimental associations with the gardens of home.

Variety in texture, height and timing of floral display were equally important horticultural considerations. The beds around each headstone is planted with a mixture of floribunda roses and herbaceous perennials. Low-growing plants are chosen for areas immediately in front of headstones, ensuring that inscriptions are not obscured and preventing soil from splashing back during rain. In cemeteries where there are pedestal grave markers, dwarf varieties of plants are used instead.

The absence of any form of paving between the headstone rows contributes to the simplicity of the cemetery designs. Lawn paths add to the garden ambiance, and are irrigated during the dry season in countries where there is insufficient rain. Where irrigation is inappropriate or impractical, dry landscaping is an ecological alternative favoured by the Commission’s horticulturists, as is the case in Iraq
Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

. Drier areas require a different approach not only for lawns, but also to plants and styles of planting. Similarly, there are separate horticultural considerations in tropical climates. When many cemeteries are concentrated within a limited area, like along the Western Front
Western Front (World War I)
Following the outbreak of World War I in 1914, the German Army opened the Western Front by first invading Luxembourg and Belgium, then gaining military control of important industrial regions in France. The tide of the advance was dramatically turned with the Battle of the Marne...

 or Gallipoli peninsula, mobile teams of gardeners operate from a local base. Elsewhere, larger cemeteries have their own dedicated staff while small cemeteries are usually tended by a single gardener working part time.

Financing

The CWGC's work is funded predominantly by grants from the governments of the six member states. In the fiscal year 2007/08, these grants amounted to £43m. The contribution from each country is proportionate to the number of graves maintained, as follows:
Country Value of grants
(£
Pound sterling
The pound sterling , commonly called the pound, is the official currency of the United Kingdom, its Crown Dependencies and the British Overseas Territories of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, British Antarctic Territory and Tristan da Cunha. It is subdivided into 100 pence...

 m)
% of total
United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

33.7
78.4
Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

4.3
10.1
Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

2.6
6.1
New Zealand
New Zealand
New Zealand is an island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two main landmasses and numerous smaller islands. The country is situated some east of Australia across the Tasman Sea, and roughly south of the Pacific island nations of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga...

0.9
2.1
South Africa
South Africa
The Republic of South Africa is a country in southern Africa. Located at the southern tip of Africa, it is divided into nine provinces, with of coastline on the Atlantic and Indian oceans...

0.9
2.1
India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

0.5
1.2
Source: Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Vandalism

CWGC cemeteries are generally respected as humanitarian, non-political sites, and instances of vandalism
Vandalism
Vandalism is the behaviour attributed originally to the Vandals, by the Romans, in respect of culture: ruthless destruction or spoiling of anything beautiful or venerable...

 and desecration
Desecration
Desecration is the act of depriving something of its sacred character, or the disrespectful or contemptuous treatment of that which is held to be sacred or holy by a group or individual.-Detail:...

 appear to be rare; when they do occur they tend to make news in Commonwealth
Commonwealth of Nations
The Commonwealth of Nations, normally referred to as the Commonwealth and formerly known as the British Commonwealth, is an intergovernmental organisation of fifty-four independent member states...

 countries.

Accusations of vandalism of Imperial war graves were levelled at Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

 after their victory in the Battle of France
Battle of France
In the Second World War, the Battle of France was the German invasion of France and the Low Countries, beginning on 10 May 1940, which ended the Phoney War. The battle consisted of two main operations. In the first, Fall Gelb , German armoured units pushed through the Ardennes, to cut off and...

. On 2 June 1940, Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler was an Austrian-born German politician and the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party , commonly referred to as the Nazi Party). He was Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and head of state from 1934 to 1945...

 visited the Vimy Memorial
Vimy Memorial
The Canadian National Vimy Memorial is a memorial site in France dedicated to the memory of Canadian Expeditionary Force members killed during the First World War. It also serves as the place of commemoration for First World War Canadian soldiers killed or presumed dead in France who have no known...

 to show that it had not been vandalised or destroyed by German troops.

Vandals defaced the central memorial of the Etaples Military Cemetery
Etaples Military Cemetery
Étaples Military Cemetery is a Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemetery in Étaples, near Boulogne on the north-west coast of France. The cemetery holds over 11,500 dead from both World War I and World War II.-History:...

 in northern France with anti-British and anti-American graffiti on 20 March 2003 immediately after the beginning of the Iraq War. The many war graves that the Commission looked after in Iraq
Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

 were left to fall into disrepair after Saddam Hussein
Saddam Hussein
Saddam Hussein Abd al-Majid al-Tikriti was the fifth President of Iraq, serving in this capacity from 16 July 1979 until 9 April 2003...

 banned the Commission from visiting the graveyards after the first Gulf War
Gulf War
The Persian Gulf War , commonly referred to as simply the Gulf War, was a war waged by a U.N.-authorized coalition force from 34 nations led by the United States, against Iraq in response to Iraq's invasion and annexation of Kuwait.The war is also known under other names, such as the First Gulf...

. On 9 May 2004 thirty-three headstones were demolished in the Gaza
Gaza
Gaza , also referred to as Gaza City, is a Palestinian city in the Gaza Strip, with a population of about 450,000, making it the largest city in the Palestinian territories.Inhabited since at least the 15th century BC,...

 cemetery, which contains 3,691 graves, allegedly in retaliation for the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal.

In November 2008, nineteen headstones at the Wagga Wagga War Cemetery
Wagga Wagga War Cemetery
Wagga Wagga War Cemetery is a war cemetery that occupies a plot in the Wagga Wagga Monumental Cemetery located in the Wagga Wagga suburb of Kooringal, which is in the care of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and is maintained by the Office of Australian War Graves.The cemetery contains 83...

 were desecrated by vandals. On 1 April 2009 the nineteen headstones were restored at a cost of AU
Australian dollar
The Australian dollar is the currency of the Commonwealth of Australia, including Christmas Island, Cocos Islands, and Norfolk Island, as well as the independent Pacific Island states of Kiribati, Nauru and Tuvalu...

$7500 with A$10,000 reward on offer for information leading to the conviction of those responsible for the attack.

In late March 2009, vandals desecrated eight headstones at the Albury War Cemetery, in Albury
Albury, New South Wales
Albury is a major regional city in New South Wales, Australia, located on the Hume Highway on the northern side of the Murray River. It is located wholly within the boundaries of the City of Albury Local Government Area...

, New South Wales
New South Wales
New South Wales is a state of :Australia, located in the east of the country. It is bordered by Queensland, Victoria and South Australia to the north, south and west respectively. To the east, the state is bordered by the Tasman Sea, which forms part of the Pacific Ocean. New South Wales...

, which were found by a member of the Office of Australian War Graves
Office of Australian War Graves
The Office of Australian War Graves is a branch within the Australian Department of Veterans' Affairs and was formed on January 1, 1975. The OAWG acts as Australian agent for the Commonwealth War Graves Commission ....

. Replacement headstones will cost A$2000 each and take up to eight weeks to replace.

Current projects

A project is underway to photograph the graves of and memorials to all service personnel from 1914 to the present day and make the images available to the public. The work is being carried out by The War Graves Photographic Project
The War Graves Photographic Project
The War Graves Photographic Project aims to photograph every war grave, individual memorial, Ministry of Defence grave and family memorial of serving military personnel from World War I to the present day...

http://www.twgpp.org/index.php in conjunction with the CWGC. The project has thus far recorded 1,000,000 photographs for posterity.

Since an initial archaeological investigation in 2008, the Commission has been working with the British and Australian authorities to plan the recovery of between 250 and 400 casualties from previously unidentified mass graves resulting from the Battle of Fromelles
Battle of Fromelles
The Battle of Fromelles, sometimes known as the Action at Fromelles or the Battle of Fleurbaix , occurred in France between 19 July and 20 July 1916, during World War I...

. Recovery operations began in May 2009, and it is expected that by July 2010 all remains will have been reburied in individual graves in the new Fromelles (Pheasant Wood) Military Cemetery
Fromelles (Pheasant Wood) Military Cemetery
Fromelles Military Cemetery is a First World War cemetery built by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission on the outskirts of Fromelles in northern France, near the Belgian border. Constructed between 2009 and 2010, it was the first new Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemetery for more than 50...

 close by (the first new CWGC cemetery for more than fifty years).

British graves and memorials in South Africa from the Second Boer War
Second Boer War
The Second Boer War was fought from 11 October 1899 until 31 May 1902 between the British Empire and the Afrikaans-speaking Dutch settlers of two independent Boer republics, the South African Republic and the Orange Free State...

 have been the responsibility of the CWGC since 2005, and the project involving the renovation of graves of over 24,000 casualties at 223 sites is expected to be completed in 2011.

See also

  • American Battle Monuments Commission
    American Battle Monuments Commission
    The American Battle Monuments Commission is a small independent agency of the United States government. Established by Congress in 1923, it is responsible for:...

  • German War Graves Commission
    German War Graves Commission
    The German War Graves Commission is responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of German war graves in Europe and North Africa...

  • Mortuary Affairs
    Mortuary Affairs
    right|thumbnail|A soldier from a graves registration unit attempts identification of a skull during [[World War II]]Mortuary Affairs is a service within the United States Army Quartermaster Corps tasked with the retrieval, identification, transportation, and burial of deceased American and...


External links

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