The Commonwealth War Graves Commission was established by Royal Charter in 1917 to ensure that men and women of the Commonwealth forces who died during the First World War would be honoured and never forgotten.
Our work, to build hundreds of cemeteries and memorials for those who died, was barely complete when the Second World War broke out and we were once again required to ensure those who died were remembered in a proper and fitting way.
Since then, the Commission has constructed 2,500 war cemeteries and plots, erecting headstones over graves and, where the remains are missing, inscribing the names of the dead on permanent memorials.
From the very beginning, the Commission created a number of principles which underpin our work to this day.
- Each of the dead should be commemorated by name on the headstone or memorial
- Headstones and memorials should be permanent
- Headstones should be uniform
- There should be no distinction made on account of military or civil rank, race or creed
We pay tribute to 1,700,000 men and women who gave their lives for the Commonwealth by maintaining their graves and memorials in over 150 countries around the world.
Not only do we preserve and protect the headstones, cemeteries and memorials, we also keep records of each and every person commemorated so that loved ones may locate a last resting place or the memorial on which a name is inscribed.
Finally, we look to the future by developing educational material and providing information to the public about our work so that generations to come will continue to recognise the value of remembrance.
Undivided India and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission
The forces of Undivided India, including Gurkha regiments, played a significant part in both world wars, and her 160,000 war dead are buried and commemorated in 50 countries around the world.
The Commission has always worked tirelessly to maintain their memory, as we do every Commonwealth servicemen and women that we commemorate. Here you can download a leaflet which summarises our work in this area.
Yet, as His Excellency Nalin Surie, India's High Commissioner to the UK, writes in his forward to Valour and Sacrifice - Undivided India's contribution 'is known but neither extensively written about nor adequately recognised.'
This website is a starting point towards redressing that imbalance.
With it, we aim to
- Acknowledge and honour the contribution of the forces of Undivided India by telling some of their stories
- Raise awareness amongst young people in the UK, of both British and Asian origin, and, equally, young people in the Indian subcontinent
- Highlight the Commonwealth aspect of the work of the CWGC, emphasising the principles of equality that underpin our organisation
- The contribution of Undivided India in the two world wars is a massive subject. Contained in this website are examples of that contribution. It is not a comprehensive account. There is no intention to underestimate the part played by those whose stories are not recorded here.