The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) is responsible for the commemoration of almost 1.7 million members of the Commonwealth forces who gave their lives in the two WorldWars.
In France we commemorate 575 000 servicemen of the Commonwealth and we care for almost 3 000 sites.
On the Somme, 150 000 Commonwealth members lie buried in 250 military and 150 civilian cemeteries.
The Thiepval Memorial is the largest Commonwealth war memorial in the world. It bears the names of more than 72,000 men of the forces of the United Kingdom and South Africa who died in the Somme sector between July 1915 and March 1918 – more than 90 percent of them during the 1916 battle.
In Western Europe alone our 400 gardeners maintain a grassed area the equivalent of 500 football pitches, and headstone borders that if they were laid end to end, would stretch a distance of more than 700 kilometres.
Our headstone production centre at Beaurains, near Arras, manufactures new headstones used by the CWGC worldwide.
Special teams also re-engrave thousands of headstones in-situ to ensure the names of those who died are legible and will never be forgotten.
Our stonemasons, blacksmiths and joiners ensure memorials, sculptures and features are kept in good order by working to a regular cycle of maintenance.
The CWGC’s work is guided by fundamental principles:
Each of the dead should be commemorated by name on the headstone or by an inscription on a memorialThe headstones and memorials should be permanent
The headstones should be uniform
There should be no distinction made on account of military or civil rank, race or creed.
From time to time the remains of soldiers who died on the battlefields are discovered. Each is given a dignified burial in one of our
The Battle of the Somme is often remembered for the huge losses on the first day – 1 July 1916 – but the Somme offensive continued over the following months – a total of 141 days – and men from every part of Britain and across the Empire took part.
To register an event or for more information on events over the 141 day duration of the Somme campaign, please contact a member of the CWGC team at firstname.lastname@example.org
You can also find information on our website following the link: http://www.cwgc.org/the-somme/commemorating-141-days.aspx
Look out for our Visitor Information Panels at more than 40 of our cemeteries and memorials on the Somme.
The panels are designed to give you more information about the battles that took place here and the people who took part. Use your smartphone to scan the Quick Response (QR) Code on the panels to reveal the personal stories of some of those buried and commemorated at the site.
Our ‘War Graves’ App is a great tool for finding our sites. Download it for free at http://www.cwgc.org/app
The cost of the CWGC’s work is shared by six member governments – Australia, Canada, India,
New Zealand, South Africa and the United Kingdom – in proportions based upon the number of their graves.