CWGC - Commonwealth War Graves Commission PDF Version >
Web Version >

July 2012: Commemoration - past, present and future.

Welcome to our July 2012 Newsletter

The notion of commemoration is ever-present in the work of the CWGC, with our cemeteries, burial plots and memorials standing as a lasting tribute to those who died in some 150 countries across the world in the two world wars.

This month, the 96th anniversary of the first day of the Battle of the Somme, the 80th anniversary of the unveiling of Thiepval Memorial and Armed Forces Day have provided us with three fantatsic opportunities to share our work with the public.

Through such opportunities it is our hope that commemoration will not just be an element of the past and the present -- but also of the future.

Take a look at the rest of this newsletter to discover snapshots of acts of commemoration and remembrance across the world.

red strip

Thiepval: then and now

Thiepval Memorial

Our staff were on hand to meet members of the public attending the ceremonies at Thiepval Memorial on 1 July, marking the 96th anniversary of the first day of the Battle of the Somme.

1 July 1916 was the worst day in the history of the British Army, with nearly 20,000 men killed and nearly 40,000 more wounded or taken prisoner.

By the time the offensive on the Somme was called off, in November 1916, the death toll was over 120,000, and many of the dead were never found or could not be identified.

Thiepval bears the names of more then 72,000 of the missing and hundreds of people attend the ceremonies held there every July 1st. 

This was a particularly special year as it also marks 80 years since the Thiepval Memorial was inaugurated by Edward, Prince of Wales.

Click below to view stunning video footage of the memorial’s unveiling.

Read more

red strip

CWGC at Armed Forces Day

Armed Forces Day

The Armed Forces Day national event was held in Plymouth on Saturday 30 June.

The event aimed to raise awareness of our Armed Forces; past, present and future.

Our staff were there to meet members of the public, talk to them about our work and guide them through searches using the Commission’s casualty and cemetery databases.

The day was the finale of Plymouth's  Armed Forces Week which included an opening ceremony and flag raising at the Guildhall, school visits to military establishments, an exhibition at the Central Library, concerts and church services and a guided tour of Ford Park Cemetery – the resting place of almost a thousand of the fallen from the world wars.

Plymouth is also home to the Plymouth Naval Memorial and in honour of the event we put together this unique album, marking the memorial’s history.

Read more


Blogspot with David Richardson

Our Director of Horticulture, David Richardson, is back with his second insight into the world of the Commission's horticulture.

Read David's blog -- discussing how the range of climates in which the Commission operates adds another dimension to our horticultural challenge - as well as an added opportunity to work with a huge variety of plant material, much of which we would struggle even to grow in greenhouses here in the UK.

Ixora 'Dwarf Pink'
red strip

Twelve CWGC sites contribute Yew tree clippings for use in chemotherapy treatment

Brookwood Military Cemetery

Twelve CWGC sites across South East England, including Brookwood Military Cemetery, are to contribute clippings from their Yew hedges for use in chemotherapy treatment.

Our staff are collecting the needles on behalf of harvesting company, Limehurst Limited, which supplies the drug industry with the raw materials.

Clipping  is a precise operation, as it is only the green areas which contain the useful ingredient, whilst wooded parts can damage machinery. It is also very important to work fast, so as to prevent the leaves "going off".

Read more

red strip

Re-bronzing work completed on the roof of the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial

Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial

Work has been carried out to clean and re-bronze the three large rings in the roof of the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial.

Hanging scaffolds were suspended through the roof to allow our staff to carry out the work.

The renovation, which began on Monday 4 June, took just three weeks and caused no hindrance to the public -- due to the clever scaffolding design.

Click here to see some unique photos of the project and view the Menin Gate from an entirely new perspective

Read more


One Reader's Snapshot: Keeping the names alive, Tyne Cot Memorial

Captured by reader Nick Stone, this shot offers a striking glimpse of our staff at work, engraving at Tyne Cot Memorial.

The image was captured during Nick’s third visit to Tyne Cot and the Salient in May last year. Although he was unaware at the time, Nick has since discovered that one of his grandmother’s cousins, Sidney Northrop, is commemorated on the memorial.

Click here to view more images captured by Nick. © Nick Stone

Tyne Cot Memorial
red strip

One man's tribute to the fallen

Tromso Cemetery

Peter Ratcliffe’s research into the German Battleship, Tirpitz, has led him to visit Tromso Cemetery, Norway, on four occasions since 2000.

Tirpitz was attacked by the Fleet Air Arm in 1944 and two airmen were lost.

Ahead of his most recent visit Mr Ratcliffe was able to trace the families of both men in order that he may place fitting tributes on their headstones.

One of the men, a Fleet Air Arm navigator, had no known family and had to be traced through an appeal in the Northern Echo.

Click below to read a letter from Mr Ratcliffe, in which he details his trip and encourages readers to come forward if they would like any tributes laid when he visits cemeteries in Arnhem, Rheinberg and Reichswald in 2013.

Read more

red strip

Pupils honour local men

Syracuse War Cemetery

Pupils from Bolton School Girls Division, Lancashire, have visited Syracuse War Cemetery, Sicily, and taken the opportunity to honour the local Bolton men commemorated there.

The girls used our casualty database to discover that at least four soldiers from their local area were buried in Syracuse War Cemetery, all of whom died in the early stages on the invasion of Sicily in July 1943.

The girls located details and photographs of the men from local newspapers of the time.

The stories of the four men were told when they visited the cemetery and fresh flowers were laid on their graves and the cross of sacrifice.

Click below to discover more about the lives of the four men.

Read more


Famous Olympians: Captain Wyndham Halswell

Captain Wyndham Halswell

A professional soldier who had served in the Boer War, Captain Wyndham Halswell won a gold medal at the 1908 London Olympics in very controversial circumstances.

In the final of the 400 metres he was blocked by his American opponents and the race declared void. The Americans refused to take part in the re-run and Halswell won the final by a walkover - becoming the only athlete to win an Olympic title in this manner.

On the 12th March 1915, at Neuve Chapelle, Haswell was wounded by shrapnel leading his men across Layes brook. In spite of his injuries he refused to be evacuated. He was still in bandages on the 31st March as he sought to rescue a brother officer. As he went forward he was shot through the head by an enemy sniper.

He is buried at Royal Irish Rifes Graveyard, Laventie.


red strip

Battles this month: July 1916 -Chatsworth Rifles at Richebourg

Loos Memorial

This month's feature looks at an often neglected aspect of July 1916, through the lens of a recently published First World War memoir.

'Joffrey's War' was written in the 1930s, but only published this year. Geoffrey Husbands - 'Joffrey' of the title - was a well educated young man who joined up slightly under age as a Kitchener volunteer in the 16th (Service) Battalion, the Sherwood Foresters (Chatsworth Rifles).

Chapter 39 describes the trench raid at Richebourg - the Rifles' first  experience of real action. And it is from here that this feature draws its main focus.

Thanks to the Western Front Association (WFA) for providing this article. The WFA is a registered charity dedicated to perpetuating the memory of those who served in the First World War.

For further information about the WFA and how to join their association please visit their website.

Read more

red strip

A to Z of countries: I is for Iraq

Basra Memorial

Spoilt for choice when it comes to the letter 'I', we decided to visit the Commission's committment at this point in the alphabet for a second time.

Just over 54,000 Commonwealth war dead of the two world wars and some 700 of other nationalities are buried or commemorated in eleven sites in the Republic of Iraq.

Of the war dead, some 41,000 who have no known grave or whose graves could not be maintained are commemorated on four memorials.

The Commission also cares for nearly 1,200 non-world war graves as an agency service, some 600 on behalf of the United Kingdom Ministry of Defence and some 700 on behalf of cemetery committees.

Maintenance of the war cemeteries and memorials became difficult with the onset of the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s and our committment in the country is still met with a great number of challenges.

Read more


And Also

Rheindahlen Military Cemetery handed over to the Commission's care >>>

Appeal for family members of war dead buried in a number of UK cemeteries >>>

The newly-elected French President visits Ranville War Cemetery, Normandy >>>

Headstone beam replaced in churchyard on the Isle of Arran >>>

Rheindahlen Military Cemetery


Commonwealth War Graves Commission
2 Marlow Road, Maidenhead, Berkshire, SL6 7DX. United Kingdom

t: +44 (0) 1628 507200




Follow us on Twitter Facebook
Sign up for our newsletter
Forward email to a friend

If you no longer wish to receive emails from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission please click here