History enthusiasts are being given online tools to discover the stories behind local war graves and memorials as the country prepares to mark Remembrance Sunday under coronavirus lockdown.
With strict restrictions on travel, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) is encouraging the public to take a virtual exploration of the world war heritage on their doorstep.
In the UK there are more than 12,500 war grave sites maintained by CWGC, covering large memorials, churchyards and burial grounds.
A new website, www.cwgc.org/exploreGB, allows people to search for sites in their local area and read about their history and the people laid to rest there.
Below is a list of some the CWGC’s sites of commemoration.
People are warned travel to sites may not be advisable under coronavirus restrictions and are urged to follow local Covid-19 related rules.
– Chester (Blacon) Cemetery
Blacon Avenue, Chester, Cheshire
Among the 557 commemorated there include RAF airmen and Polish servicemen from the numerous Polish hospitals and camps that were in the area.
– Liverpool Naval Memorial
Mersey River Front at the Pier Head, Liverpool
More than 13,000 seamen agreed to serve with the Royal Navy during the war in various types of auxiliary vessels, in armed merchant cruisers, armed boarding vessels, cable ships, rescue tugs, and others on special service.
– Perth (Jeanfield and Wellshill) Cemetery
Jeanfield Road, Perth, Scotland
During the war this site was one of those selected for use as a Polish cemetery when Scotland became the base for the Polish Armed Forces in the UK. This is at the southern end of the site’s Jeanfield Division and contains over 350 burials.
– Sutton Veny (St John) Churchyard
Sutton Veny, near Warminster, Wiltshire
Many who died in training or of illness lie at rest in this CWGC plot at St John’s Church in Sutton Veny.
– Burbage (Christ Church) Churchyard
Pictured is the grave of Sapper John Henry Thorpe of the Royal Engineers, who died aged 46 in 1921.
– Newlands Churchyard
Little Town, Cumbria
– Portsmouth Naval Memorial
Southsea Common, Portsmouth
It commemorates around 10,000 sailors of the First World War and almost 15,000 of the Second World War.
– Cottesmore (St Nicholas) Churchyard Extension
Reverend Edward Guilford, wartime rector of neighbouring St Nicholas’ Church wanted all Commonwealth service personnel to feel part of his parish, with land set aside for the graves of airmen from England, Scotland, Wales, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa.
Others buried there were from what was Southern Rhodesia, Newfoundland, India, one who was domiciled in Chile, and a citizen of the United States who was serving in the Royal Canadian Air Force.
– Lowestoft Naval Memorial
Yarmouth Road, Lowestoft
– Cambridge City Cemetery
Newmarket Road, Cambridge
Many of those commemorated at this Cambridge site served in Bomber Command and the average age of the men here is just 22 years old.
– Plymouth Efford Cemetery
Efford Road, Plymouth
The port city has served as a gateway to the world across the sea, and its global history can be seen in the national emblems on the Commonwealth war graves in its Efford Cemetery.
– Patcham Down Memorial
South Downs, north of Brighton
These soldiers had all been transferred to hospital in Brighton after fighting on the Western Front in 1914 or 1915.
The inscription on the memorial, which is written in Hindi, Punjabi and English, reads: “In honour of these soldiers of the Indian Army whose mortal remains were committed to fire.”