This is an updated version of an earlier post. I wanted to check that links provided then would still work on the CWGC website.
You can use the CWGC’s search tools to locate war graves in British cemeteries, including those of our allies from the old Empire and those from the opposing side—the very victims of war whose graves, we should remember, are unlikely to have been visited much, if at all.
You can find burials without specifying the names of particular people. In fact, when it comes to filling in the search boxes, and even when you think you have the ‘correct’ info, the adage ‘less is more’ usually applies.
FIRST FIND THE CEMETERIES NEAR YOU THAT HAVE COMMONWEALTH WAR GRAVES
- The easiest way to do this, is to allow the CWGC to know your current location.
Click on the link and go to this page: https://www.cwgc.org/visit-us/find-cemeteries-memorials/
- Under the very first search box (for entering a country) you will see the hyperlink Use my current location. Click on it and it will generate a list, usually in order of distance from the point at which you currently are. You can scroll down the list or choose the option to view the cemeteries on a map which, if you’re in a place you’re not too familiar with, helps you to see which are within easy range.
- There are also two options to filter the results. The most useful one is View as Map, which enables you to see where a cemetery is in relation to where you are.
- In the next example, the train I was on was paused at a signal and the Allerton Bywater (St Mary) Churchyard was at the top of the search results.
Arthur Marchant is the first name on the list of nine servicemen, four from WW2 and five from WW1. In Arthur’s case there is a photograph of his grave. Where a photo exists, paying attention to landmarks in the background, will make it easier for you to find the grave when you visit the cemetery.
FIND YOUR FELLOW COUNTRYMEN OR COUNTRYWOMEN
Here are some tips for finding the war grave of your fellow countryman or countrywoman!
- Go to this page: https://www.cwgc.org/find-records/find-war-dead/
- Skip the Last name and First name boxes, unless you have a particular individual in mind.
- In the box Served with (country), choose a country close to your heart. If you’re looking for a fellow Kiwi, you might choose New Zealand.
- In the box, Commemorated in (country), choose the country in which you’re looking for war graves or memorials.
- Scroll down and press the Search button (bottom, left).
- This generates the details of 2104 New Zealanders in Commonwealth War Graves or commemorated on War memorials in the United KIngdom. That’s a big number. You might now want to narrow down the results with additional filters, such as the location of the cemeteries.
WHAT ABOUT FINDING CIVILIAN DEAD?
Choose them in the box Served in (army, etc). The etcetera cover Air Force, Army, the Merchant Navy, Civilian War Dead, Merchant Navy, Miscellaneous and Navy. The Navy needing no further description is the Royal Navy—the maritime branch of our military forces.
WHAT IF YOU CAN’T FIND YOUR COUNTRY IN THE ‘SERVED WITH’ LIST?
You may have noticed some countries are missing. Let’s say you’re interested in finding someone from the West Indies or West Africa.
- A temporary fix would be to use the Regiment field, and to enter a unit that you know hails from that region. You may need to use a search engine to find the names of the regiments that served with the British forces. If you’re looking for someone from the Caribbean, say, you could choose a regiment such as the British West Indies Regiment. That delivers 1493 individuals, worldwide.
Now you need to narrow down this number by country so that you find results that are in the country in which you will be looking for CWGC graves. For that you need to scroll down the page as far as the heading ADDITIONAL FIELDS. Select the option Country (commemorated in). When that box opens up you will select United Kingdom. (You may have noticed this category has more options, such as Antigua and Barbuda, and Jamaica on the drop-down list.)
Click the search button and you will generate a list of the graves or panels that commemorate 135 individuals from that regiment. Scroll down to find war graves near you. Note carefully the details for the individuals of interest. Be aware that the CWGC numbering is not always the same as the numbering in the original Grave Registration documents for that cemetery.