09/05/2018 Share this story Share on Facebook icon Share on Twitter icon Share on Pinterest icon Share on Google Plus icon Share on Linked In icon Share via Email icon

Commonwealth War Graves Commission to create new 'behind the scenes' visitor centre

9b8169c5-26f2-4d45-8bc6-093ad80b50a1

A new Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) Experience is to open in Beaurains, France, in spring 2019.

Visitors to the battlefields of Northern France will soon be able to gain a fascinating insight into the work of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, known for its superb maintenance of war cemeteries around the world. 

Join the Family Tree community  
Follow us on facebook
Follow us on twitter
Sign up for our free e-newsletter
Discover Family Tree magazine

For the first time visitors will be able to see the Commission’s team of skilled craftsman at work, taking a tour of their workshops and observing them as they continue their century-long task of caring for some of the world’s most impressive and recognisable monuments and memorials.

The centre aims to provide a greater understanding of the organisation’s work commemorating the 1.7 million men and women who died in the service of King and Country during the two world wars. It will provide a snapshot of the work of the Commission at over 23,000 sites across the globe where it continues to commemorate the final resting places of the war dead. The project, which has been made possible with the support of a £700,000 LIBOR grant, is backed by the UK government.

Behind the scenes

During their tour, visitors will be able to watch the Headstone Production Team using 21st-century technology to carve the iconic headstones, carefully crafting regimental badges and personal inscriptions, ensuring the names of the men who died remain legible. The highly skilled team of blacksmiths, stonemasons, carpenters and horticulturists will offer demonstrations on the restoration and conservation of the iconic features of the CWGC’s sites, designed by some of the 20th century’s most influential architects.

The work of the Commission in burying the war dead is far from over. The team in France still help local authorities recovering newly revealed dead from the battlefields on an almost weekly basis, a century on. A fascinating exhibition will show this work, from the recovery of the body to the final reburial with full military honours, using all the historical, archaeological and forensic evidence to identify the casualty, combining military historical research and cutting edge DNA and genealogical tracing. 

Showcasing skills

Victoria Wallace, CWGC’s Director General, said: “We have long been able to offer tours of our workshops to VIP visitors to the battlefields of Northern France. But the Commission wanted this to be someone everyone could see. As any visitor to one of our beautifully kept cemeteries will see, the artisan skills of our team are extraordinary, and the attention to detail, the scale of what we do, and the fascinating story of the recovery of men from the area for reburial today will make a real addition to any visit to the Western Front. We are hugely grateful to the British government for the funding, and to our team for embracing the idea of showing people what we do with such enthusiasm”.

The CWGC Experience will open in spring 2019 at The Commonwealth War Graves, 5-7 Rue Angele Richard CS10109,62217 Beaurains, France. Further details will be announced closer to the launch. CWGC website.

Back to News

09/05/2018 Share this story Share on Facebook icon Share on Twitter icon Share on Pinterest icon Share on Google Plus icon Share on Linked In icon Share via Email icon

Recent Updates

Never Forgotten – an eleventh-hour appeal

Susie Douglas tells the story of an appeal launched to find the living relatives of British soldiers for an ...


The name game: family history fun with Family Tree columnist Dear Tom

Do you have naming traditions in your family tree? When stalwart family history researcher Tom Wood, who pens ...


MyHeritage now supports 23andMe v5 and Living DNA uploads

MyHeritage has today announced that it now supports the upload of data from 23andMe v5 and Living DNA, in ...


Unknown Shakespeare records found in the National Archives

21 previously unknown documents concerning William Shakespeare’s father John, discovered by Professor Glyn ...


Other News

Ancestry DNA test results UPDATE

You're genes don't change, but your DNA test results do! Take a look at Ancestry's new ethnicity reports - ...


Working together for family history

Family history is all about collaboration and making connections – none of us would have a family tree ...


Desford Colliery Band release Album for Peace to mark centenary of World War I

The Desford Colliery Band, one of Britain’s longest-running brass bands, is marking its 120th anniversary ...


The Secret Lives conference - how did it go?

Family Tree were honoured and delighted to be one of the sponsors for the Secret Lives conference, which took ...