Tag Archives: Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Queen marks 100 years of RAAF at Runnymede

An item from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.


Welcome to the CWGC’s latest newsletter.

Her Majesty The Queen has marked the centenary of the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) at the CWGC’s Runnymede Air Forces Memorial.

The Queen was welcomed to the ceremony by CWGC Director General Claire Horton CBE and The Honourable George Brandis, High Commissioner for Australia alongside representatives from the RAAF. A fly past and wreath laying in honour of the RAAF personnel who have given their lives in the past 100 years took place at the event yesterday (Wednesday 31 March).

Claire Horton said: “Today is an historic milestone for the Royal Australian Air Force and we are honoured that the Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s Runnymede Air Forces Memorial has been chosen to mark the occasion.

“Around the world, the sacrifice of men and women from the Commonwealth lives on through the memorials and graves that bear their names. A century on from their formation, the RAAF’s duties at home and abroad remain as strong as ever, as does our commitment at CWGC to remember their fallen forebears.”

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All Eyes on Ieper for Cycling RaceLast Sunday, 28 March, one of Belgium’s premier cycling races started at the CWGC Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial. The Gent to Wevelgem road cycle race, known officially as Gent–Wevelgem – In Flanders Fields, runs through the former Battlefield of the First World War. Click here to learn five fascinating CWGC connections to the world of cycling!
Our Year in Lockdown

Here at CWGC we’re charged with a job that was started over 100 years ago. Despite the dramatic changes the world has seen over the past year, our work continued and just like everyone else we found ways to adapt as we all faced a pandemic that would drastically change the way we lived, worked, and socialised. Join us as we take a look back at a year which surely none of us will forget.

CWGC Director of Horticulture appointed as Trustee of Royal Botanic Gardens, KewOur very own Director of Horticulture, David Richardson, has been appointed as a Trustee of The Royal Botanic Gardens Kew. David has worked for the Commission for over 30 years, and the CWGC has a historic connection with Kew. We look forward to strengthening our relationship in the years to come.
Discover our historic sites of remembrance near you with our new and improved CWGC App. Click on the links below to download the App:

Click here to download for Android
Click here to download for iOS

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Copyright © 2021 Commonwealth War Graves Commission, All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:
2 Marlow Road, Maidenhead, Berkshire, SL6 7DX

Paying Tribute this Commonwealth Day

While Commonwealth Day was yesterday, we received this notice overnight and wanted to pass it along to our members.


Paying Tribute this Commonwealth Day.

Today, Monday 8 March, marks Commonwealth Day. Twelve months ago, we were able to celebrate Commonwealth Day with our friends and family. Since then, we’ve had to learn how to live during an international pandemic away from our loved ones and moving our work to our homes.

While there is light at the end of the tunnel, we can’t yet meet up with our loved ones as we might like to, so for this Commonwealth Day, we’re encouraging people to take their own private moments of remembrance.

We’d love to hear about people visiting their local cemeteries and memorials on Commonwealth Day, and you can post your tribute on social media using the hashtag #ShareYourTribute. Or it’s not too late to leave one of our new physical tributes at a headstone or memorial near you.

Tributes can be purchased online, and all profits from their sale will be donated to the Commonwealth War Graves Foundation, the Commission’s charity arm which funds education and outreach programmes to engage the public in the work of the CWGC and keep alive the stories of the men and women it commemorates.

Order your Tribute today

Brookwood Military Cemetery contains over 5000 Commonwealth casualties from both the First and Second World War, making it the perfect place to pay tribute to all the men and women of the Commonwealth who lost their lives during the World Wars.

To represent the fallen from across the Commonwealth, we’ve chosen a casualty from each of our member governments to lay one of our physical tributes for:

Major Oliver Hogue – AUSTRALIADied 3 March 1919
Age 38

Sydney-born Oliver fought on Gallipoli, before serving in Egypt and Palestine with the Imperial Camel Corps. By 1918 he commanded a squadron of the 14th Light Horse Regiment in Damascus. Having survived these deadly campaigns, he succumbed to influenza whilst on leave in the UK after the war had ended.

Nursing Sister Sarah Ellen Garbutt – CANADA20 August 1917
Age 41

A nurse at the Royal Memorial Hospital in Ontario, Sarah volunteered for the Canadian Army Nursing Service in 1917. She was posted to the UK, but only a month later was diagnosed with abdominal cancer and died in Vincent Square Hospital, London.

Leading Aircraftsman Yousif Ali – INDIA12 May 1947
Age 42

Born in Sylhet (now part of Bangladesh), Yousif moved to England in the 1920s. At the outbreak of the Second World War he enlisted in the Royal Air Force (RAF) Volunteer Reserve. While serving in Europe after the war he fell ill and was brought back to England, where he died at the RAF Halton Military Hospital.

Flying Officer Tohunga Richard Riwai – New Zealand21 February 1944
Age 25

Tohunga Richard Riwai was born in September 1918. He worked as a clerk and played the saxophone in Colin Castleton’s band at the Ritz Hall in Rotorua, New Zealand. Just before the Second World War he married Te Ao Korewarangi Katie Rodgers and they had three children together.

Pilot Officer George James Drake – SOUTH AFRICA9 September 1940
Age 20

Rejected by the South African Air Force, George travelled to England and joined the RAF in 1939. During the Battle of Britain he was shot down by a German Messerschmitt and it was not until 1972 that his remains were discovered in Kent. His funeral at Brookwood was attended by his surviving brothers.

Ensign Violette Reine Elizabeth Szabo – UNITED KINGDOMJanuary 1945
Age 23

War widow Violette was recruited to the Special Operations Executive and twice undertook dangerous missions in France. She was captured and tortured before being sent to Ravensbrück concentration camp, where she was eventually executed. Violette’s bravery posthumously earned her the George Cross.

You can learn more about our sites and the casualties we commemorate across Great Britain, including Brookwood Military Cemetery and the casualties above, by visiting our Our War Graves, Your History pages.
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Copyright © 2020 Commonwealth War Graves Commission, All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:
2 Marlow Road, Maidenhead, Berkshire, SL6 7DX

www.cwgc.org

Introducing War Graves Week (21st-28th May 2021)

An item from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.


Welcome to the CWGC’s latest newsletter.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission is proud to announce the first ever War Graves Week. This week, which will shine a light on our work and the people who keep remembrance of our war dead alive, will take place online and at a number of our cemeteries and memorials across Great Britain from 21 to 28 May 2021.

During this week, we will be putting on a series of online talks for you to get involved in, as well as tours and events at our sites across Great Britain. This immersive and inclusive programme aims to reveal CWGC’s work and history in all its variety, and demonstrate our ongoing relevance as an organisation today.

The first part of War Graves Week has now launched with our Plant a Wildflower in Remembrance initiative. We are encouraging the public to remember those who died in the world wars by ordering a packet of wildflower seeds, and planting these wildflowers with the expectation that by War Graves Week in May, the flowers will have bloomed.

If you have green fingers, you could be in with a chance to win £200 in garden centre vouchers. To enter our competition, share a picture of your wildflowers with us on Twitter or Instagram using #WarGravesWeek. Our horticultural experts will then choose the best in bloom.

Order your seeds and get involved by clicking here
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Copyright © 2020 Commonwealth War Graves Commission, All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:
2 Marlow Road, Maidenhead, Berkshire, SL6 7DX

12 Months of CWGC

An annual reflection from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.


Thank you all for your support this year

#12MonthsOfCWGC
This has been a year like no other for many of us all around the world, yet despite the difficulties and anxieties Covid-19 has caused this year, we are grateful and heartened by the continuing support and encouragement we have received. In the face of the challenges 2020 has presented, we are proud to say that we have managed to continue to care for the fallen of the two world wars as we have done for the last century. As we reach the end of 2020, we take a look back over some of our highlights of this unique year.
Once-in-a-Generation Restoration

In January 2020, we carried out the once-in-a-generation restoration of two Portland stone globes at the Liverpool Naval Memorial. The memorial was originally unveiled on 12 November 1952 and commemorates more than 1,400 seamen, but after decades of exposure to the elements the two half-tonne globes were in need of some extra care. You can watch the restoration in progress by clicking here.

Return to Aleppo

Recent conflicts in Syria have meant that the Commonwealth War Graves Commission has been unable to maintain some of our cemeteries in the country, including Aleppo War Cemetery. But in February, for the first time in almost seven years, our staff were able to safely gain access to the site to begin restoring the site. Read more by clicking here.

Fifty Not Out

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission was of course not immune to the spread of Coronavirus around the globe. In March, our operations were suspended and teams were forced to work from home, with new ways of working becoming the norm. However, just before  the lockdown in the UK, we were able to mark His Royal Highness The Duke of Kent’s fifty years as President of the Commission. Read more by clicking here.

It’s a Digital World

As the world began to adjust to new ways of working and moved towards digital engagement, in April, a series of heart-breaking letters were digitally published from the CWGC archives for the first time. Thanks to the newly released archive material, the stories of thousands of families’ search for closure after the First World War could be retold for the first time in generations. To discover some of these stories for yourself, click here.

A Virtual Remembrance

As people around the world celebrated the 75th anniversary of VE Day in May in a socially-distanced way. We offered the public the chance to take part in a virtual act of remembrance, and hundreds of people paid tribute to those who served to secure our peace on our Wall of Remembrance. You can add a tribute of your own via social media, using the hashtag #ShareYourTribute, or visit the wall by clicking here.

A Fitting Tribute

Every year, on 6 June, veterans and relatives return to the CWGC’s cemeteries in France to remember those killed on D-Day and during the other pivotal battles of the Second World War. Yet, under this year’s unique circumstances, tributes were instead laid by our gardeners on behalf of those who could not make their annual pilgrimage to Normandy. You can read more here.

Not the Last Post

Throughout 2020, we brought you a programme of online talks via our Facebook Live series, covering the work of the CWGC and our role in commemorating the Commonwealth men and women who died during the World Wars. In July, hundreds of you tuned into our live broadcast of the first socially-distanced Last Post ceremony at the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial in Ieper, following months of lockdown in Belgium. If you missed it, or wish to revisit the moving ceremony, click here.

VJ Day 75

August marked the 75th anniversary of VJ Day and the end of the Second World War. We spoke to 100-year old veteran and former prisoner of war, Albert Warne, who reflected upon how lucky he was to survive his time fighting in Singapore. Unable to travel to visit his fallen comrades this year, the CWGC laid a tribute on the grave of Bert’s commanding officer, Captain Lambert, in Chungkai War Cemetery in Thailand. You can watch Bert’s emotional reaction to the tribute here.

Our War Graves, Your History

Whilst many people associate our work with the vast cemeteries and memorials of France and Belgium, we also maintain stunning cemeteries and memorials across Great Britain. With many people unable to travel further afield to visit the battlefields of the two World Wars – from the Western Front to the Far East – we have been encouraging members of the public to reconnect with their local history and heritage through our new interactive resource, Our War Graves, Your History.

Remembering their Contribution

Rows of identical headstones, or columns of names inscribed on tablets of Portland stone, can give the impression that the people we commemorate were all alike. And yet, though they may now appear identical in death, in life they were diverse. October marked the UK’s Black History Month, and Historian Lynelle Howson took the opportunity to highlight the contributions of Sergeant Leslie Gilkes and Flight Lieutenant Emanuel Thomas. Read the blog here.

Shine On

On 11 November 2020, an Armistice Day like no other, members of the public joined with us to pay tribute to the 1.7 million Commonwealth war dead in a unique act of remembrance. Thousands of you made use of the Commission’s extensive records to name a star after a casualty of the two World Wars, and stood outside your doors to look up at the stars and remember the fallen. Many of you joined with us for this remarkable moment of Remembrance on our Facebook livestream, which you can rewatch here.

Looking Forward

Our global teams are now taking a well-earned break over the Christmas and New Year’s period. We thank you all for your continued support through this unique year, and while 2020 has been full of uncertainty, we hope to be able to welcome some of you back to visit a CWGC site in the not too distant future in 2021.

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Copyright © 2020 Commonwealth War Graves Commission, All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:
2 Marlow Road, Maidenhead, Berkshire, SL6 7DX

www.cwgc.org

CWGC Newsletter

A newsletter from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.


Welcome to the CWGC’s latest newsletter.

Why are there Chelsea Pensioners buried at Brookwood Military Cemetery?
You can discover a new story with every visit to a Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemetery. Often, when you explore our larger cemeteries around the world, you’ll notice distinct sections dedicated to different wars, to different nationalities, or to different arms of the forces. At Brookwood Military Cemetery in Surrey, England, one plot hidden amongst the trees is dedicated to the veterans of the Royal Hospital Chelsea in London; the Chelsea Pensioners.
The Chelsea Pensioners are the iconic faces of the United Kingdom’s veteran community. Any former soldier of the British Army over the age of 65, who is facing spending their advanced years alone, can apply for residence at the Royal Hospital Chelsea in London. Some of these men and women now lay at rest at Brookwood, buried as they lived – among friends and comrades. Learn more about how we care for the graves of the Chelsea Pensioners by exploring the resources below.

The History of the Chelsea Pensioners’ Plot

Discover the story of why hundreds of Chelsea Pensioners now lie at rest in the care of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission in Surrey in our latest blog.

Q&A with a Stonemason 

From gardeners to archivists to commemoration officers,  CWGC’s staff carry out a wide variety of roles to ensure the fallen are commemorated. Check out our live Q&A at Brookwood with Alistair, one of our stonemasons, over on our Instagram channel. 

Discover more about Brookwood Military Cemetery

With over 5000 service personnel commemorated here, Brookwood is the largest CWGC cemetery in Britain. Alongside the graves of Chelsea Pensioners, you can find the graves of men and women from across the Commonwealth, as well as French, Czechoslovak, Italian, Belgian, Polish and American war graves.

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Copyright © 2020 Commonwealth War Graves Commission, All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:
2 Marlow Road, Maidenhead, Berkshire, SL6 7DX