25 October 2017

Join the CWGC's Archives Open Day

The Commission will open its treasured archives to the public on Friday 17 November, as part of the national Explore Your Archive campaign.


The annual event, which will launch nationally on 18 November, encourages people to discover the past stories, facts, places and people who were once at the heart of their communities. Archives across the country will be taking part to raise awareness of the value of historical artefacts and their role in society.

On the day, the Commission will have a variety of items on display focusing on the personal stories and experiences of its staff since 1917, particularly those living and working in France and Belgium after the First World War. This will also include the evacuation of staff from France and Belgium during the Second World War and the experiences of staff working in the Middle East, Africa and the Far East.

Visitors to the event will be able to see:

  • staff recollections, including letters, postcards and reports, discussing the evacuation from Belgium and France during the Second World War
  • personal items which belonged to Jack Kingston, a veteran of the First World War and a CWGC gardener in France during the 1920s
  • staff records, including that of John Harris, who was a Pupil Gardner in France after the First World War. He served in the Second World War and was a prisoner of war in Thailand. He died after returning home from captivity
  • examples of gardeners and stonemasons working in the CWGC’s sites from our collection of around 20,000 black and white negatives.

There will also be a screening of recently discovered footage from the 1930s-50s, archive and historical talks by CWGC staff, and a sneak peek of the new CWGC archive catalogue set to go live later this year.

Andrew Fetherston, CWGC’s archivist, said: “The CWGC’s archive is of international importance and we’re really looking forward to welcoming the public again. Tickets for last year’s event went very quickly.

“We have so many interesting stories and artefacts to display which we don’t normally get the chance to show off. This year’s event will focus on the people who worked at the CWGC at a very interesting time.

“The event is free and we really hope to see as many people there as possible. If anyone has any information or photographs of the men and women we look after from both world wars, it would be lovely for them to bring these along on the day.”

The free event, which will run from 1pm to 4pm, will be held at CWGC’s head office in Marlow Road, Maidenhead. Those wishing to attend should register their interest online at Eventbrite. Refreshments will be available.

Throughout the week, the Commission will also promote various aspects of its archive on Twitter  through a series of themed daily posts as part of the national campaign. Follow @CWGC for more.

Latest News

Sunday 19 November will mark the 75th anniversary of a daring airborne raid. Codenamed ‘Operation Freshman’, the raid was an unsuccessful attempt to destroy the hydroelectric power station vital for German atomic research. The CWGC commemorates those who died and last month, HRH The Duke of Kent visited CWGC cemeteries in Oslo and Stavanger to pay his respects ahead of the anniversary. Here is more about the raid and the stories of some of the men who lost their lives.

Monday 20 November marks 100 years since the Battle of Cambrai began in 1917. Here are 9 facts about the battle.

By the end of the Battle of Cambrai in early December 1917, more than 80,000 servicemen on both sides were wounded, missing, or killed. The CWGC commemorates in France more than 12,000 British and Commonwealth servicemen who died during the 17 days of the battle. Their graves can be found at sites across the former Cambrai battlefields and further afield.