The Commonwealth War
Graves Commission principles
Each of the dead should be commemorated by name on the
headstone or memorial.
Headstones and memorials should be permanent
There should be no distinction made on account of
military or civil rank, race or creed
CWGC Stones & Epitaphs
The headstones of
the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) stand out from all
other organisations due to the amount on information that can be
found on them. An important aspect of this information is the
epitaph, the inscription chosen by the relatives of the deceased.
The maximum number
of letters was fixed at 66 and at first a charge of 3˝ pence was
made per letter. When it became apparent that this
was beyond the
means of many people the charge became 'voluntary'.
does not not allow an
When the CWGC
inquired what the relatives would like to have inscribed on the
grave, the CWGC made a few suggestions and these can be found
regularly on headstones.
A lot of people
however gave through the epitaphs words to their feelings. All human
emotions can be seen through these words; sadness, despair, anger,
pride, strength through Faith, etc.
The inscriptions are always in
capitals and usually without punctuation.
categories of qualifying people
All had to have died between 04.08.14 and 31.08.21 inclusive.
1 Any serving Commonwealth military
personnel who died of any cause whatsoever and in any location.
Death can be categorised as - Killed in Action, Died of Wounds, Died
of illness, Died in Accident, Died of Homicide or Suicide and Died
from Judicial Execution.
Cause of death and the location are immaterial.
2 Any former Commonwealth military
personnel who died within the qualifying dates after leaving service
of any service related injury or illness. The cause of death has to
be proven to have been caused by their service within the dates. Not
always easy and often impossible to prove to the authorities'
The military authorities were often not informed of post-discharge
deaths or did not accept the death was service related.
3 A member of one of the Recognised
Civilian Organisations (Mercantile Marine, Red Cross etc) who died
within the dates BUT in addition they had to have died both on duty
AND of a war related cause.
No person who died after 31.08.21 can qualify as a WW1 War Grave -
ever - as stipulated in CWGC's Royal Charter.
The same rules apply to WW2 but the dates are 03.09.39 to 31.12.47
In the UK and other home countries not all War Graves have CWGC
headstones. The relatives could choose to have one or not but that
does not affect their status as official War Graves.
The Cross of
Sacrifice and the Stone of Remembrance
any cemetery with over 40 graves, you can find The Cross of
Sacrifice designed by the architect Reginald Blomfield to
represent the faith of the majority. By using a simple cross
embedded with a bronze sword and mounted on an octagonal base,
Blomfield hoped to, in his words, ‘keep clear of any of the
sentimentalities of Gothic’.
Cemeteries with over 1,000 burials have a Stone of Remembrance
designed by Lutyens to commemorate those of all faiths and none. The
geometry of the structure was based on studies of the Parthenon and
steers purposefully clear of shapes associated with particular
Individual graves are marked by uniform headstones, 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. Where there is risk of earth
movement, graves are marked instead by bronze plaques on low
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