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David Cameron

British Prime Minister and Irish Taoiseach Visit Iconic CWGC Memorials

19 December 2013

British Prime Minister David Cameron, and Irish Taoiseach Enda Kenny, paid their respects today (19 December 2013) in Belgium to Commonwealth servicemen and women who lost their lives in the First World War.

Welcomed by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission's (CWGC) Vice Chairman, Sir Joe French, the Prime Ministers  visited several First World War cemeteries and memorials around Ieper - the Island of Ireland Peace Tower at Messines, the grave of Major William Redmond at Locre, the Menin Gate Memorial, Tyne Cot Cemetery and Memorial and Wytschaete Military Cemetery.

At Tyne Cot, the largest Commonwealth war cemetery in the world, Prime Minister David Cameron was given a demonstration of the complexities of headstone re-engraving. The CWGC currently re-engraves 19,000 headstones a year in northern Europe and, in the lead-up to the Centenary of the First World War in 2014, is undertaking a major renovation programme to ensure that its cemeteries and memorials are in pristine condition.

CWGC Historian Dr Glyn Prysor guided the official party. He said: "The cemeteries and memorials created and maintained by the CWGC are of huge historical significance, but they are also deeply moving on a personal level. Both Prime Ministers were struck by the painstaking work that goes into renovating and maintaining these sites and our efforts to encourage ever greater numbers of the public to visit them."

"The CWGC's innovative use of technology - and our interactive Visitor Information Panel programme in particular - was also of great interest."

The CWGC is installing Visitor Information Panels at over 500 cemeteries and memorials across some 30 countries (including 100 sites in the UK). The panels place the cemetery or memorial into its wider historical context and have links to smartphone technology that reveals the personal stories of some of those who fought and died.

The CWGC is also developing an interactive 14/18 website, designed to help the public plan their visits to the cemeteries and memorials (particularly lesser known sites and campaigns), and a smartphone App to raise the visibility of locations containing war graves.


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