21 December 2018

Commonwealth War Graves Commission encourages families to share their stories at Christmas

This Christmas the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) is encouraging families to use the time of coming together to reconnect with their family’s past.

John Stoneham 

Over the festive period and into the new year CWGC sees a spike in those using the Commission’s online database of 1.7 million war dead to learn more about their forebears.

Many of these online visitors have been inspired after learning for the first time about how their ancestors were involved in the First and Second World Wars and CWGC wants to help more people to reconnect with their past.

Earlier this year the Commission caught up with Private John Stoneham’s great niece Lynda Davies to see what reconnecting with her past meant to her. Private Stoneham died on 11 November 1918 and a century later, after using the CWGC website to research her family, Lynda and her husband were able to make a personal pilgrimage back to see his final resting place.

In the video below she tells the story of how a search on the Commission’s website led her to her great uncle’s grave for the first time.

Dr Glyn Prysor, chief historian at CWGC, said: “At this time of year, many of us reconnect with family, friends and our local communities. 2018 saw the end of the centenary of the First World War, and more people than ever have been inspired to find out about their links to the conflict.

“Christmas is the perfect time to get together and have those precious conversations about forebears who were involved in the wars, particularly those who never returned home.

“Our online database is an essential tool for anybody researching their family or local history – you can find out more about those who lost their lives and where they are buried or commemorated today. I know from my own experience just how special it can be to rediscover those personal links to the past, and to share the journey with loved ones.”

Searching on the Commission’s casualty database can show you where a war casualty is buried, how to visit the site and often extra details about the history of those buried there and any family details held by the Commission.

You can refine a search depending on how much information you have about the person you’re trying to find and download and print a commemorative certificate if you wish.