The Archive's Aim
The aim of the Commission's Archive is to collect, manage and
preserve a variety of original materials which document the history
of the organisation, and, where possible, to make such records
accessible to the public.
We receive thousands of requests for information each year and
we use the records regularly to check and confirm details of the
casualties and cemeteries we look after.
The documents are also used to maintain the Register - which
records the name and details of each casualty - and at each
cemetery and memorial you will find a printed copy showing the
service details and, in some cases, family details, of the men and
women buried or commemorated there.
Commonwealth war dead are still discovered each year as a result
of various activities. The Commission works closely with its Member
Governments to aid identification and to arrange the burial and
commemoration of these individuals and ensures that their details
are documented and added to our records.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission was founded in 1917 by
Fabian Ware following a resolution passed by the heads of
government of the United Kingdom, the Dominions and India at the
Imperial War Conference held in that year.
Its duties were officially defined in a Royal Charter which came
in to force on 21st May 1917, its core commitment being to preserve
the memory, and the physical graves and memorials, of those members
of the Commonwealth Forces who died as a result of the two world
wars. The archive chronicles the history of the Commission, from
the period leading up to its official founding, to its role in
documenting and commemorating casualties in relation to both World
Wars, and its activities right through to the present day.
The archive itself is split into two distinct sections:
The Historic Archive contains
records concerning the formation of the Commission and its growth
and development. The majority of the records date from the period
1917-1967, although the archive continues to grow as new material
is added in order to continue to document the on-going work of the
Mainly consisting of administrative
files, correspondence, minutes and reports, the collection also
contains a small amount of other material, such as objects and
minor effects found on the battlefields, maps and cemetery plans,
and photographs of various sites.
- The Casualty and Cemetery Archive
The Casualty and Cemetery Archive is
made up of documents which record the details and commemoration
location of each casualty the Commission is responsible for.
After the end of the First World War
the Commission began work on the construction of cemeteries as we
know them today. Small cemeteries were concentrated into larger
ones, and the battlefields were searched for human remains. Some
existing cemeteries were re-ordered. Records were kept for each
casualty and headstones were ordered for those with known graves.
The records were also used to produce the lists of those with no
known grave, which were later added to the memorials to the
The records themselves include grave
registration documents, casualty registers and headstone schedules.
In many cases these represent the earliest recorded information
that the Commission was able to gather about those who came under
its care. These records also acted as working documents for the
Commission, and over the years have been amended on a number of
occasions as inaccuracies were discovered or new evidence came to
Click here to view a
full catalogue of our archive holdings
Click Here to view
and browse our online casualty database
Our archive collection is kept at our head office in Maidenhead,
and is accessible to researchers and the general public via
appointment, though we do ask that you contact us in advance to
make an appointment, and it is recommended that at least 10 days'
notice is given. While we may be able to answer some enquiries
relating to the archive collections, we unfortunately cannot
undertake extensive research.
Click here for more information about visiting our archive,
including opening times
To make an initial enquiry, please contact the Records and
Archives department at: firstname.lastname@example.org