About the Headstones
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) is responsible for the permanent marking and maintenance of graves, as well as the commemoration by name of all those whose graves are unknown or whose remains were lost, of men and women of the Commonwealth forces who died of service related causes in The Great War 1914-1918 – specifically between 4 August 1914 and 31 August 1921.
With regards to headstones, the CWGC follows its overall guiding principles of individual commemoration, permanence and uniformity of sacrifice. These principles are reflected in Commission headstones which are uniform shape and bear no distinctive inscriptions beyond the allowed details of the individual. The headstones are two feet eight inches in height and were originally made of Portland stone for many years although they are now made of Botticino granite which withstands the effects weather much better.
The maximum detail for headstones on the graves of known burials is limited to the following;
- National emblem (Maple Leaf)
- Service number
- Initials and Surname
- Decorations (medals)
- Service or regiment
- Date of death
- Religious emblem
- Personal inscription
“Unknown” is the term used on a headstone to describe the remains of a soldier whose name is not known. Everything else such as rank, nationality, regiment, date of death may be known but personal identity is not possible. In the case of graves of an Unknown, the headstone inscription is limited to “ A Soldier of The Great War”……..”Known Unto God.” In cases where details ( other than the individual’s name) may be known, those known details may be included in the headstone inscription – i.e.: ‘A Canadian Soldier of The Great War’ or ‘An Officer of the 15th Battalion Canadian Infantry’ etc.
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Click on a flag below to go to a gallery of headstones in that country.