Commonwealth War Graves Commission

  • The Commission was founded by Sir Fabian Ware and officially established by Royal Charter on 21 May 1917 as the Imperial War Graves Commission. It was renamed the Commonwealth War Graves Commission in 1960.
  • The Commission commemorates those who died during the First and Second World Wars in service or of causes attributable to service. The designated war years are

First World War
4 August 1914 to 31 August 1921

Second World War
3 September 1939 to 31 December 1947

  • The Commission cares for the graves and memorials of almost 1.7 million Commonwealth servicemen and women who died in the two world wars. These include the graves of more than 935,000 identified casualties and almost 212,000 unidentified individuals. The names of almost 760,000 people can be found on memorials to the missing.
  • We also commemorate more than 67,000 Commonwealth civilians who died as a result of enemy action during the Second World War. Their names are listed on a roll of honour, housed near St George’s Chapel in Westminster Abbey, London.
  • In addition to commemorating the Commonwealth forces, we maintain 40,000 war graves of other nationalities and more than 25,000 non-war military and civilian graves on a repayment basis.
  • The Commission maintains graves and memorials at some 23,000 locations in over 150 countries worldwide.
  • The largest of the Commission’s memorials to the missing, is the Thiepval Memorial in France, standing at over 45 metres high and carrying the names of over 72,000 casualties from the Battle of the Somme.
  • The largest Commission cemetery in the world is Tyne Cot in Belgium. It holds almost 12,000 graves of which more than 8,300 are unknowns.
  • Our smallest cemetery is Ocracoke Island (British) Cemetery, North Carolina with just 4 burials.
  • The highest cemeteries are on the Asiago Plateau in Italy at 4000 feet (1120 metres). There are five including Granezza and Boscon British Cemeteries.
  • The first Commission memorial to be unveiled was the Menin Gate in Ieper in July 1927.
  • The last Commission cemetery and memorial to be unveiled after the Second World War was Ambon in June 1967 but new memorials are still being built today.
  • Fromelles (Pheasant Wood) Military Cemetery in France is the newest Commission cemetery – dedicated in 2010.
  • Of the 23,000 cemeteries and burial plots over half (13,000) are to be found in the United Kingdom commemorating 170,000 war dead – your local churchyard probably has one or more war graves..