We honour and care for the 1.7 million men and women of the Commonwealth forces who died in the First and Second World Wars, ensuring they will never be forgotten. Funded by six Member Governments, our work began with building, and now maintaining, cemeteries at 23,000 locations all over the world.
Today, over a century after we first began, our work continues through our staff, supporters and volunteers who preserve our unique cultural, horticultural and architectural heritage and ensure that the stories of those who died are told.
Since our establishment, we have constructed 2,500 war cemeteries and plots, and we have erected headstones over more than a million burials at military and civil sites across the world. Individuals who have no known grave are commemorated by name on a Memorial to the Missing. The names and service details recorded in our archives were taken from official military sources, where they were available.
The founders of the IWGC were determined that on the battlefields of the Western Front, all men should be commemorated equally. But there were more distant places where that did not happen.
In 1923 the Colonial authorities in East Africa, the British Government and the Imperial War Graves Commission decided not to commemorate by name each one of the thousands – possibly hundreds of thousands - of men and women in the Carrier Corps who died provisioning the armies of the British Empire in Africa during the First World War. No-one knows exactly how many porters died, mostly of exhaustion, hunger and disease. They have no known graves, and their names have been lost. We deeply regret the decisions of the time which allowed this to happen.
Statues of black carriers, scouts and askaris were erected in Nairobi, Mombasa and Dar es Salaam in 1927 to pay tribute to their service. We know now that this is inadequate, and that each man’s name and place of rest should have been identified. It was not. With a Special Committee comprising experts and community interest groups, we are now working with specialist researchers to find all such gaps in our commemorations, and to recommend what can be done to restore their names to be remembered forever alongside all the other war dead of the British Empire.