Our records are as extensive as our cemeteries and form a vital
part of the work we do. From the beginning Fabian Ware's unit
kept records of cemeteries and the people buried therein. By
October 1915, over 31,000 graves had been registered and by May
1916 this had increased to 50,000 registrations, with some of the
costliest battles, in terms of lives lost, still to be fought.
By the end of the First World War, 580,000 identified graves and
180,000 unidentified graves had been marked and recorded.
Commemorations on memorials totalled 530,000. By 1947 the
Records Department had recorded 370,000 graves and 250,000 names
commemorated on memorials. We now have a total of some 3.5
million documents in our records and archive.
We receive thousands of requests for information and we use the
records regularly. Recently we have undertaken the enormous
task of digitising the archive so that fragile original burial
documents do not need to be handled daily. The records are
also used to maintain the Register. All that we know about an
individual is now available online.
The Paper Trail
After the Armistice the Commission began work on the
construction of cemeteries as we know them today. Small cemeteries
were concentrated into larger ones, the battlefields were searched
for bodies and some cemeteries were re-ordered. Records were kept
for each casualty and headstones were ordered based on these
records. They were also used to produce the lists of names of
those servicemen with no known grave, which were later engraved on
the memorials to the missing.
At each cemetery and memorial you will find a printed register
showing the service details and, in some cases, family details, of
the men and women buried or commemorated there.
Today, Tomorrow and Forever
Commonwealth war dead are still discovered each year through
agricultural and construction activities and on occasion through
archaeological investigations. The Commission works closely with
its Member Governments to aid identification and to arrange the
burial and commemoration of these individuals.
information about our archive and arranging a visit.