Frequently Asked Questions
Do you have a question about the CWGC and our work?
Check the list below to see if it's been asked before - if you can't find your question, then follow the link to our Contact Us page at the bottom of the list.
Frequently Asked Questions
The CWGC Visitor Centre is a unique, new visitor attraction that will shine a light on the work of the CWGC.
The Commonwealth War Graves Foundation (CWGF) aims to engage and educate people – especially the young – with the work of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) and the inspiring stories of the men and women who died whilst fighting in the two World Wars.
We do not provide this service. The Royal British Legion provide a service of overseas wreath-laying.
Visitors are welcome to leave fresh flowers, wreaths, and poppy crosses. These are removed once they have finished flowering or are past their best.
We discourage this as it impacts our ability to maintain the graves and headstone borders. It can also detract from the overall appearance of a cemetery and, as such, any items that are left are removed.
In addition, nothing should be attached to the surface of the headstone and no plants or shrubs should be planted.
You can complain to us in person, by letter or email. Please give us as much information as possible. We will keep your complaint confidential. We will let you know we have received your complaint within five working days and aim to give you a full reply within 10 working days. We will let you know if it is going to take longer, explaining the reason and giving you a date when you can expect to hear from us.
We do not organise battlefield tours or provide detailed travel advice.
There are many independent organisations offering 'battlefield tours' that can be found online or through travel agents. If seeking a guided battlefield tour, we recommend visiting the Guild of Battlefield Guides website as a starting point.
However, we do offer guided tours at a number of cemeteries and memorials.
- We offer free guided tours at about 40 different locations right across the UK. These are led by our public engagement team and by CWGC Volunteers. To find details of the sites and to book a place on a tour visit our Events pages. If you would like to discuss a group tour booking for one of our sites, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
- In Malta, CWGC Volunteers are running tours of Imtarfa Military Cemetery every Monday and Friday, and also at Pieta Military Cemetery and Kalkara Naval Cemetery upon request. To find out more or to make a booking, please email: email@example.com
- Seasonally, CWGC Interns are based at the Thiepval Memorial in France and at Tyne Cot Cemetery in Belgium to guide visitors around these sites.
We do have site guides available for a number of locations across GB which you can download and use to explore our sites. These can be found here.
CWGC does not hold these photographs. There have been various local and national projects to photograph headstones and you may find a headstone by doing a web search for the casualty's name and burial location.
CWGC are responsible for the commemoration of personnel who died between
4 August 1914 and 31 August 1921 and
3 September 1939 and 31 December 1947
whilst serving in a Commonwealth military force or specified auxiliary organisation.
Personnel who died between
4 August 1914 and 31 August 1921 and
3 September 1939 and 31 December 1947
after they were discharged from a Commonwealth military force, if their death was caused by their wartime service.
Commonwealth civilians who died between
3 September 1939 and 31 December 1947
as a consequence of enemy action, Allied weapons of war or whilst in an enemy prison camp.
Find out more by reading our eligibility policies.
Military casualties buried in a grave are commemorated with a CWGC headstone or pedestal marker. If they have been identified, their military details are engraved in a standard layout. Some may also have a religious emblem and personal inscription chosen by their family.
Those with no known grave are commemorated on one of the Memorials to the Missing, according to where and when they died.
Individuals who died away from the battlefield, or after they were discharged may have been buried by their family in a churchyard or civil cemetery and their grave marked by a private memorial.
Commonwealth civilian casualties from the Second World War are commemorated in specially bound volumes of the Roll of Honour held at Westminster Abbey in London.
We only hold records relating to grave registration, cemetery and memorial registers and headstone schedules. Digital images of these can be seen with the entry for each casualty on our website.
Our records generally indicate a casualty’s military details, date of death, place of burial or commemoration and, in some instances, their age and the names and address of their next-of-kin.
Occasionally their family provided comments such as ‘severely wounded at Gallipoli’ or ‘Mentioned in Despatches in Palestine’. These details are displayed on a casualty’s entry as ‘additional information.’
More information about their military service might be found in their personal service record or in the records other units with which they served. Not all records have survived and some are still confidential. Many military records can be viewed by subscribing to one of the genealogy websites.
United Kingdom forces: Surviving First World War service records have been digitised by The National Archives, and can only be viewed online.
Second World War service records are still held by the Ministry of Defence as they remain confidential. You may apply for a copy if you are the next-of-kin of a service person who has died. Application forms are available online.
Australian forces: First and Second World War service records are held by National Archives of Australia.
Canadian forces: First and Second World War service records are held by Library and Archives Canada.
New Zealand forces: First and Second World War service records are held by the New Zealand Defence Force.
Indian forces: Guidance for locating First and Second World War records can be found here.
We have created a series of bitesize guides to help you begin your research, which can be found here.
Our archive contains records relating to the burial and commemoration of war casualties and the sites and memorial we maintain, as well as documenting the history of the CWGC, and includes papers, plans and photographic material.
Further details on our archive documents can be viewed by clicking here.
Copies of certificates can be obtained from the following organisations. You may have to provide a reference and pay a fee.
Birth, marriage and death certificates for England and Wales from 1837 are held by the General Register Office.
Certificates for Northern Ireland from 1864 are held by the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency.
National Records of Scotland have made birth and death certificates from 1855 available through ScotlandsPeople.
Birth and death certificates for the Republic of Ireland are available from 1864, access to these documents is administered by the Civil Register Office.
Some indexes (not the certificates themselves) for registrations in other Commonwealth countries can be viewed online via one of the genealogy websites.
Most servicemen and women received campaign medals in recognition of their service in particular theatres of war at specific times.
Gallantry awards were presented to those who displayed bravery, courage or leadership.
Some Foreign governments acknowledged the contribution of Commonwealth personnel to their nations war effort by awarding their own decorations.
Information about what campaign and gallantry medals Commonwealth casualties may have been entitled to is provided by the Ministry of Defence.
The London Gazette published official lists of recipients of gallantry awards. For some medals they also provided the citation, a description of the act for which the award was made.
Indexes were prepared by the different services to record the medal entitlement of their personnel. Some of these documents for the First World War can be searched and viewed online, either through The National Archives website or one of the online genealogy sites.
Australian forces: First and Second World War medal information provided by Australian Government Department of Defence.
Canadian forces: First and Second World War medal information provided by Veterans Affairs Canada.
New Zealand forces: First and Second World War medal information provided by the New Zealand Defence Force.
South African forces: First and Second World War medal information provided by the SA Ministry of Defence and Military Veterans.
Indian forces: First and Second World War medal information provided by the Ministry of Defence Medal Office.
We do not hold personal information for present-day descendants. It is important to be mindful that not all descendants would wish to receive contact, and that their details are protected under data protection and privacy laws.
The Roll of Honour records the names of members of the British Armed Forces who have died in military service since the end of the Second World War. This searchable website provides details about the type of service, regiment or corps, burial place (if known) and whether someone’s name is on the National Memorial in the National Memorial Arboretum.
We maintain the graves of some military personnel who died in non-world war conflicts on behalf of other governments and agencies. We may hold very limited information about their grave. Please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Visit our Headstone Cleanliness & Legibility page for more information on how we care for our headstones and war graves.
Read this leaflet to learn about war graves in the UK.
If you would like to help us with cleaning our headstones in your local area, there may be local permissions and regulations in place, so please contact us first for more information via email@example.com
The CWGC has no responsibility for the war memorials that were erected by local communities, churches and work places after both world wars.
Those who established these memorials could decide who they wished to include, so the names on a local memorial may be different to the individuals who are official war casualties commemorated by the CWGC.
To learn more about UK memorials and their care, visit ukwarmemorials.org.
The details we hold were supplied to us by the military authorities and the next-of-kin in the years after the First and Second World Wars to enable the Commission to engrave the commemoration for each casualty. We do not always hold full names as only initials were engraved.
They reflect the choices made by the casualty themselves with regards to the spelling of their names, their next-of-kin and other personal details. The address we record is that of the next-of-kin when they corresponded with the Commission, sometimes many years after the end of the war.
Therefore, the details we hold may be different to those you see in other records. The accuracy of our records is very important to us and we regularly make amendments, however we will only do so if you provide documentary evidence to support any correction. We will not alter a choice made by the casualty themselves. Further details on how to submit a request can be found here.
It is possible that the person you are looking for is not a war casualty commemorated by the CWGC. Check that your casualty matches our criteria for commemoration.
Try entering in just the surname, initials and war. Results can then be refined.
If you still cannot find the casualty, please contact us, providing as much of the following information as possible:
Regiment (or branch of service)
Date of Death
The CWGC and its Member Governments follow the principle that the war dead should, as far as possible, be allowed to rest in peace and not be disturbed. Therefore, the CWGC does not permit exhumations from the graves of Commonwealth war casualties for the purposes of identification.
Occasionally new evidence is sent to us suggesting a name for an individual who was buried as an unknown casualty. If the military authorities accept that the documentary evidence is clear and convincing, the grave will be rededicated with a new headstone bearing the name of the casualty. Guidance is available for how to submit an Identification Case.
Where human remains are discovered in former battlefield areas during farming, building work or land developments the local police will confirm that they are First or Second World War casualties. The CWGC will then coordinate with the relevant military authorities who will carry out any investigation as to identity.
In the vast majority of cases from the First World War period it is not possible to establish the identity of the casualty. However, occasionally artefacts found with the remains, together with historical information, might suggest that the remains belong to a particular regiment/unit or a named individual. Every effort is then made by the military authorities to trace present day relatives and, where appropriate carry out DNA.
Whether identification is successful or not, the CWGC will support the relevant authority in making arrangements for a military burial with full honours in a CWGC cemetery close to where they were found. The grave will be marked and cared for by the CWGC in perpetuity.
We want you to be safe when you are visiting the cemeteries, memorials, and graves we tend. Our cemeteries and memorials are in more than 153 countries and territories, and each one comes with its own unique features and landscape. Where there are specific hazards we try to put up safety signs, but it is not possible to do this everywhere or to alert visitors to every risk.
Also, many of the graves we care for, particularly in the UK, are in churchyards or other sites that are not under our control.
We therefore ask you to take care of your personal safety and be aware of potential risks during your visit. We encourage you to do some research before your visit, by using the CWGC website and other sources such as maps, on-line images, tourist information websites etc., to check for weather conditions, parking, road layouts and other information that may be relevant to your planned visit. If you are visiting a cemetery or memorial in a country that you are not familiar with, you should also check any local travel restrictions or safety advice issued by the Foreign Office.
Please be aware of your surroundings when you arrive and consider the following:
- Uneven ground may cause slips, trips and falls; stick to paths where possible and negotiate any steps with care
- Plan visits for daylight hours
- Exercise caution in wet or icy conditions and avoid visiting in extreme weather
- Choose appropriate clothing and footwear according to seasons and local climate
- Avoid sheltering under trees in extreme weather
- If encountered, do not disturb livestock or wild animals
- Avoid climbing or leaning on masonry or headstones/memorials as they may be unstable
- Please always supervise children
Please observe prohibitive notices against the admittance of dogs*.
NB: Most cemeteries, burial grounds and churchyards in the U.K that contain CWGC war graves are not under our control. Any queries about the admittance of dogs should therefore be directed to the relevant local council or church authority.
*Excludes assistance dogs.
Copyright and database rights in all material on this site are the property of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission unless otherwise stated. This material may be reproduced free of charge in any format or medium for personal use or for internal circulation at an educational establishment, provided it is not altered or used in a misleading context and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission is acknowledged as the source of the material.
This permission does not extend to any material on this site which is identified as the copyright of a third party Authorisation to reproduce this material must be obtained from the copyright holders concerned. If you wish to use material for any other purposes, please contact us.
The design of the CWGC headstone, the text and the badges engraved on them are all copyright of CWGC. They have been designed as official recognition of the sacrifice of war casualties and may not be used or copied by anyone other than CWGC.
Please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please fill out our event application form with the details of your proposed event and our team will respond.
Please email: email@example.com
This can be done in one of two different ways:
You can donate using the facility on the website by clicking here.
Alternatively, you can donate by cheque, made payable to the 'Commonwealth War Graves Foundation' and sent to:
Commonwealth War Graves Foundation
2 Marlow Road
The Commonwealth War Graves Foundation (CWGF) engages communities with the stories of the war dead across the globe. It educates the next generation, enabling them to become custodians of the future and make their contribution.
A current list of vacancies can be found here.