Huge replica cemetery commemorates Armistice at Cardiff Castle

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A replica Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemetery has been installed at Cardiff Castle to mark the centenary of Armistice.

The 330 headstones placed in the courtyard represent the more than 30,000 Welsh men and women who gave their lives during the First World War.

Each wooden headstone, signifying 100 Welsh war casualties, features an inscription and badge to show the various regiments and divisions of soldiers who did not return home.

A replica Stone of Remembrance – Sir Edwin Lutyens’ contribution to CWGC cemeteries – stands at the head of the replica cemetery.

The installation aims to give visitors an insight into some of the 23,000 CWGC sites around the world.

Replica war cemetery at Cardiff Castle
Each wooden headstone signifies 100 Welsh casualties in the First World War (Ben Birchall/PA)

“People are often surprised that there are war graves at all but actually we have thousands and thousands of war graves tucked away in churchyards and local town cemeteries, often on your doorstep.

“You are never more than a few miles away from a war grave. But it’s very rare for people to see a big war cemetery with lots of graves together.”

He added: “I think this really gives people a feeling of what you see when you go to the battlefields and see those thousands of headstones.

“This is representative of all those from Wales who lost their lives. As many as 40,000 people left Wales to serve and never came home.”

Replica war cemetery at Cardiff Castle
The headstones each feature an inscription and badge to show the divisions and regiments of soldiers who never returned from the frontline (Ben Birchall/PA)

The replica cemetery is accompanied by an exhibition, Shaping Remembrance, at the castle’s Firing Line Museum.

This includes a letter from the father of poet Hedd Wyn, which has not been on public display before.

Wyn died in the first day of fighting on Pilckem Ridge during the Battle of Passchendaele and is buried at CWGC’s Artillery Wood Cemetery in Belgium.

It is estimated well over 30,000 Welsh men and women died during the First World War, though an exact figure is impossible to calculate.

CWGC commemorates more than 27,000 war casualties from Welsh regiments. Thousands more died while serving in other units.

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