The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) honours the 1.7 million men and women who died in the armed forces of the British Empire during the First and Second World Wars, and ensures they will never be forgotten.

Our work began with building, and now maintaining, cemeteries and memorials at 23,000 locations in more than 150 countries and territories, and managing the official casualty database archives for our member nations.

Our core principles, articulated in our Royal Charter in 1917, are as relevant now as they were 100 years ago:

  • Each of the Commonwealth dead should be commemorated by name on a headstone or memorial
  • Headstones and memorials should be permanent
  • Headstones should be uniform

Since our establishment, we have constructed 2,500 war cemeteries and plots, and we have erected headstones over more than a million burials at military and civil sites across the world. Individuals who have no known grave are commemorated by name on a Memorial to the Missing. The names and service details recorded in our archives were taken from official military sources, where they were available.   

The founders of the IWGC were determined that on the battlefields of the Western Front, all men should be commemorated equally. But there were more distant places where that did not happen.

In 1923 the Colonial authorities in East Africa, the British Government and the Imperial War Graves Commission decided not to commemorate by name each one of the thousands – possibly hundreds of thousands - of men and women in the Carrier Corps who died provisioning the armies of the British Empire in Africa during the First World War. No-one knows exactly how many porters died, mostly of exhaustion, hunger and disease. They have no known graves, and their names have been lost. We deeply regret the decisions of the time which allowed this to happen.

Statues of black carriers, scouts and askaris were erected in Nairobi, Mombasa and Dar es Salaam in 1927 to pay tribute to their service. We know now that this is inadequate, and that each man’s name and place of rest should have been identified. It was not. With a Special Committee comprising experts and community interest groups, we are now working with specialist researchers to find all such gaps in our commemorations, and to recommend what can be done to restore their names to be remembered forever alongside all the other war dead of the British Empire.

Click here for a map showing the scale of our commitment

History of CWGC

History of the CWGC

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission owes its existence to the vision and determination of one man - Sir Fabian Ware.

About our history
About our Records

About Our Records

Our archive documents show the details of those  commemorated, and the processes involved in providing appropriate commemoration.

About Our Records
Our Vision

Our Vision

The Strategic Plan is our main strategic planning document. It provides a framework for the delivery of the obligations described in our Royal Charter.

About Our Vision
Our Customer Charter

Our Customer Charter

We aim to offer the best possible quality of service. We monitor our performance on a regular basis and publish a report on our website. 

About Our Customer Charter
How we are Funded

How We Are Funded

Partner governments of the Commonwealth nations share the cost of the Commission's work proportionately to the number of their graves.

About our funding

Our Commissioners

Our Commissioners are appointed for a term of four years with the option of being extended for a further four years. HRH The Duke Of Kent is President.

About Our Commissioners


We employ staff across a wide range of disciplines, divided into three main categories: horticulture, structural maintenance and office based.

About our jobs
CWGC Senior management team

Senior Management Team

Our Senior Management Team oversee the strategic direction of the Commission. Meet our director general and other department heads.

About our Senior Management

Press room

Welcome to the CWGC Media Centre. We welcome enquiries from the media and are here to help you tell the stories that matter to you. 

about our Press room


The Commemorations team ensures all 1.7 million Commonwealth war casualties are commemorated with dignity and honour.

About our Commemorations

How to do business with the Commission

This guide is intended to help potential suppliers understand how the Commission does business and what opportunities are available.

About our business opportunities

Our Partners

We have a number of partner organisations with whom we work closely to improve and expand on the services we offer, from museums to charities.

About Our Partners