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The CWGC Experience - Commonwealth War Graves in France

An extraordinary organisation, an extraordinary experience

The CWGC Experience building

The CWGC Experience is a unique new visitor attraction in Beaurains, near Arras in France that shines a light on the work of the remarkable organisation at the heart of remembrance of the war dead. For the first time, visitors will be able to take a look behind-the-scenes at the work that is needed to commemorate the Commonwealth casualties from the First and Second World Wars.

Our free audio guide will walk you through each aspect of the work we do: from the story of how we still recover and rebury the dead today, to the skilled artisan craftsmen at work maintaining the world's most impressive and recognisable war monuments and memorials, a trip to the battlefields of the Western Front is not complete without a visit to the CWGC Experience.

The CWGC Experience was awarded the Best Tourism Project in Europe at the 2019 British Guild of Travel Writers’ International Tourism Awards. The BGTW is a community of accredited writers, photographers and broadcasters and the trusted body for independent editorial comment and expert content on worldwide travel.

Outside of the CWGC Experience building

RECOVERY AND REBURIAL
RECOVERY AND REBURIAL
There are, on average, 40 discoveries of World War remains every year. This is one of the most vital areas of our work, and one of the most interesting. Our staff in France play an integral role in the recovery process, now you can see how it happens.
MAINTENANCE TEAMS
MAINTENANCE TEAMS
Managing 23,000 sites worldwide requires a large, dedicated maintenance team. You’ll see some of the work our teams do on a daily basis and learn about some of the challenges they face day-to-day.
MASONS, CARPENTERS AND BLACKSMITHS
MASONS, CARPENTERS AND BLACKSMITHS
Between headstones, monuments, and memorials, the CWGC relies on a highly skilled team to produce the iconic sights you see at our war cemeteries. Now you can get a first-hand look at some of our master craftsmen at work.

Explore nearby - Arras France map

Located in the heart of the battlefields of the First World War, The CWGC Experience is an easy drive away from some of the most recognisable French war graves and locations on the Western Front.

Download our map and visit some of the key cemeteries and war memorials in France.

View our map

Caberet-Rouge British Cemetery

Situated between two war cemeteries, Cabaret-Rouge British Cemetery lies south of Souchez, France.

Find out more
Thiepval Memorial

It commemorates over 72,000 men of British and South African forces who died in the Somme sector.

Find out more

Visiting Information

Opening times and facilities

We're open from Monday to Friday, 9 am to 4 pm.

The CWGC Experience is closed at weekends, on French public holidays and during December and January for maintenance - the final day of operations will be Tuesday 30 November 2022. Please note that the centre will also be closed for public holidays from 15 to 18 April, on 29 April, 6 May, 6 June, 15 July and 31 October.

Facilities

Toilets, a gift shop and vending machines are available at the centre.

Accessibility

The CWGC Experience is open to all and we strive to ensure that all of our visitors can enjoy as much of our centre as possible.

If you have any questions or want to know how we can support your visit please contact us at cwgcexperience@cwgc.org or call us on +33 (0)3 21 21 52 75.

Assistance dogs are welcome.

Parking

Entry to the CWGC Experience is free and free parking is provided for all vehicles with fewer than 12 seats.

We have limited parking for larger vehicles and 12-seaters and above must book in advance of their visit. 

A parking fee applies to larger vehicles.

Are you planning to visit as part of a group? All coach bookings must be made in advance of your visit.

Book here

Find The CWGC Experience

Location information

The CWGC Experience is located just south of Arras, in the Hauts de France region, the heart of the First World War battlefields. The centre is only an hour from the channel ports and is easily reached by car (public parking is available on site). There are good rail links to Arras. Our address is: 

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission
5-7 rue Angele Richard
62217 Beaurains
France

You can get to us:

By car

From Lille or Paris: direct access from the A1 motorway (exit 15) onto the D939.

From Calais: take the A26 to Saint-Quentin. Exit 7 to Arras-Centre onto the D917.

By train

Eurostar from London to Lille with good connections from Lille to Arras. TGV from Paris to Arras.

By ferry/channel tunnel

Ferry services to Calais, Le Shuttle service to Calais.

By air

Lille airport in Lesquin or Charles de Gaulle airport, Paris.

About the war graves around Arras, France

How many war graves are there in France?

There are more than 700,000 commonwealth casualties of the two world wars commemorated on our war memorials and in our cemeteries across France. 

Many of the burials are in our large CWGC cemeteries like Etaples Military Cemetery, Bayeux War Cemetery and Cabaret-Rouge British Cemetery, but a large number are buried in groups of ones and twos in local churchyards and burial grounds near to where they died. 

How many British war graves are in France?

There are more than 475,000 British casualties of the two world wars commemorated by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission at cemeteries and memorials in France. More than 440,000 of these casualties lost their lives during the First World War, while the remaining 35,000 died during the Second World War. 

Which are the best war graves to visit in France?

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission, formerly the Imperial War Graves Commission, has been caring for the fallen in France since its formation during World War One. 

Today we have cemeteries and memorials across France, commemorating the men and women of the Commonwealth who died on French soil during both world wars. 

War graves France WW1

From the border with Belgium down to the border with Switzerland, the trenches of the Western Front cut a bloody path through France. You can find war graves at our cemeteries along the front lines. Here are some you might be interested to visit:

FAUBOURG D'AMIENS CEMETERY

FAUBOURG D'AMIENS CEMETERY

Faubourg D’Amiens Cemetery is found in the town of Arras, in the Pas de Calais department of France, close to the CWGC Experience in Beaurains. 

It was formed in March 1916 adjacent to a large French military cemetery, and was used throughout the war. The cemetery was further extended after the war as casualties were brought from smaller burial sites in the region. 

The cemetery contains more than 2,650 burials of World War One as well as the Arras Memorial, which commemorates nearly 35,000 Commonwealth casualties who have no known grave, and the Arras Flying Services Memorial, which commemorates nearly 1000 airmen of the First World War who were lost in the skies over the Western Front. 

ETAPLES MILITARY CEMETERY

ETAPLES MILITARY CEMETERY

Designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens, Etaples Military Cemetery is the largest CWGC cemetery in France, with nearly 12,000 burials. 

Etaples was home to the principle staging post and transport depot, due to its position on the coast and proximity to the important ports of Calais and Boulogne, as well as vital rail links with the front lines. Due to its position away from the fighting, It was home to as many as eleven hospitals during the war. 

The casualties buried here were either evacuated from the front lines for medical care and later died of their wounds, died in transit or were brought to the cemetery after the war from other burial sites. 119 Second World War burials can also be found here. 

VIS-EN-ARTOIS BRITISH CEMETERY

VIS-EN-ARTOIS BRITISH CEMETERY

Vis-en-Artois sits on the main road between Arras and Cambrai, and was occupied by the German forces from September 1914 until its liberation in August 1918. 

Vis-en-Artois, and nearby Haucort, were taken by the Allied forces during the Battle of the Scarpe, part of the Hundred Days offensive which paved the way to the end of the war in Europe. 

The cemetery itself was formed immediately after the capture of the region, and was used until the middle of October, with nearly 300 Canadian burials and 55 British burials there. Following the end of the war, the cemetery was enlarged and used for the burials of nearly 2,400 World War One soldiers from other sites, including men from The United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, South Africa and Germany. Nearly 1,500 of the burials here remain unidentified. 

War graves France WW2

War returned to France with the German invasion of 1940, and was the site of some of the most well known battles of the war. Discover more about finding war graves from World War Two. 

BAYEUX WAR CEMETERY

BAYEUX WAR CEMETERY

One of the most famous World War Two battles in France was Operation Overlord - the invasion of Normandy. 

On 6 June 1944, a combined Allied force launched the largest naval invasion ever seen against five Normandy beaches: Gold, Sword, Omaha, Utah and Juno. While the invasion was a success, the fighting on the beaches and the push into the calvados countryside cost thousands of lives on both sides. 

The first French town to be liberated following the invasion was the historic town of Bayeux, which became the site of the Bayeux War Cemetery, where more than 4,000 Commonwealth war dead are buried, as well as about 500 war graves of other nations, the majority German. 

The cemetery is home to the Bayeux Memorial, which bears the names of 1,800 men of the Commonwealth land forces who died during the invasion and in the early days of the campaign and who have no known grave.

DUNKIRK TOWN CEMETERY

DUNKIRK TOWN CEMETERY

Another of the most well known actions of World War Two in France was the evacuation of Dunkirk. 

Following the declaration of war in 1939, the British Expeditionary Force was sent to help defend France and Belgium from an expected German invasion. The invasion came in May 1940, and the German Blitzkrieg - lightning war - overwhelmed the defenders, pushing them back to the French coast. 

Against such a formidable attack, the British, Belgian and French armies were pushed back to the French coast, and the decision was made to evacuate as many men as possible to avoid their capture or destruction. The port of Dunkirk, in the Hauts-de-France region of France was chosen for the evacuation. 

The combined efforts of the Royal Navy and the famed ‘little ships’ to evacuate the soldiers, the efforts of the RAF to prevent German bombing raids, and multiple rear-guard actions to delay the advancing Germans, meant that nearly 340,000 Allied troops were evacuated from the European mainland. 

Dunkirk Town Cemetery is the final resting place of nearly 800 World War Two war casualties, of which more than 200 are unidentified. The cemetery is also home to the Dunkirk Memorial which commemorates more than 4,500 Commonwealth war dead who died in France in 1939 and 1940 and who have no known grave. 

DIEPPE CANADIAN WAR CEMETERY

DIEPPE CANADIAN WAR CEMETERY

Operation Jubilee, the raid on Dieppe by a predominantly Canadian Allied Force, was one of the most costly operations of the Second World War.

Although a naval landing on the French coast, Operation Jubilee was not a full invasion. Instead, its objectives were to capture the port of Dieppe, destroy important military targets in the area, gather vital intelligence at the same time, and then to depart.

Instead, the invading force found well prepared defences, and more than half were killed, captured, wounded or missing by the time the raiding forces withdrew. The heavy losses taught the Allies valuable lessons that would later influence the planning and eventual success of the invasion of Normandy.

Nearly 1000 of those who died during Operation Jubilee are today buried at Dieppe Canadian War Cemetery, the vast majority of whom are Canadian.

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