31 January 2017

CWGC Western Front Cemeteries and Memorials to be considered for UNESCO World Heritage Status

It has been announced that a selection of Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) First World War cemeteries and memorials in France and Belgium is to be considered for world heritage status.

The submission will be put before The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) World Heritage Committee next year.

The CWGC welcomes the approach, which recognises the huge significance these places have in world history and in the commemoration of the servicemen and women who died.

One of UNESCO’s main aims is to “encourage international cooperation in the conservation of our world's cultural and natural heritage”.

The submission is entitled "Funeral and memorial sites of the First World War (Western Front)" and includes 96 sites in France and 43 sites in Belgium that are managed and maintained by the CWGC.

The CWGC’s cemeteries and memorials at the Western Front were designed by the most eminent architects the British Empire had to offer. The architects were given freedom to interpret their ideas in response to the First World War within the parameters of simple guidelines. The result was some of the most original and moving commemorative architecture the world has seen. Many of the cemeteries and memorials now stand as landmarks on the sites of former battlefields. In many cases they are the last physical reminder of events from a century ago.

A founding principle of the CWGC was that all should be treated equally in death, with no distinction made on account of military or civil rank, race or creed.

In its centenary year, the CWGC continues to preserve all its cemeteries and memorials and encourage the act of remembrance. By preserving the memory of the dead with simple dignity and true equality, it hopes to encourage future generations to remember the sacrifice made by so many.