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CWGC Launches new online digital resources to commemorate 100 year anniversary of WW1

08 July 2014

Millions of people across the Commonwealth could discover more about their relatives who fought and died during WW1, as the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) today launches two exciting new online resources, designed to help the public gain a greater understanding of those who lost their lives in service during the war.

The unveiling of the CWGC's  recently completed online archives and the brand new Discover 14-18 microsite will make locating and visiting memorial sites of relatives and loved ones killed in the war, easier than ever before. The online resources will also greatly enhance the service that the CWGC is able to provide to the 1.6 million people who contact them every year.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission, founded in 1917, is responsible for marking and caring for the graves and memorials of over 1.7 million Commonwealth war dead from the two world wars. However, in the lead up to the Centenary of WW1 this August, they have also undertaken a five year project to scan over 300,000 working documents relating to those who died in service during WW1 and upload them to the www.CWGC.org website, all of which will be available for the public to view for the first time from 8 July.

These documents will give a unique insight into the process of commemoration undertaken by the Army and the CWGC after WW1, and include details of personal headstone inscriptions, date of death, rank, regiment and even some documents which show the journey of the deceased to their final resting place.

Andrew Fetherston, the CWGC's Archivist and Records Manager, said: 

"For the first time, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission is providing public access to the hundreds of thousands of documents in its archive. The documents are a window into the Commission's past, and the incredible work carried out after the war, to ensure those who died will not be forgotten.

"As working documents, it is fascinating to see the typed and handwritten lists, the corrections and notes as they strived for accuracy. For the families of those we commemorate, these records give a snapshot into the processes by which their relatives would have been identified and buried, or commemorated on a memorial, and give a direct link back to a time in the immediate aftermath of the war.

"We believe the documents make the experience of searching through our records even more fascinating than before."

In addition to this, the brand new Discover 14-18 microsite launching on the same day, is designed to enable the public to visit the CWGC memorial sites more easily during this Centenary year, and enhance their understanding of the historical context of the cemeteries and memorials. The site will feature a timeline and events calendar for WW1, and content will be themed around major battles and the different roles of the Army, Navy and Air Force, all linking back to the CWGC memorial sites and the new online archives.

Click here for the full media release.