Wednesday, July 16, 2014

CWGC archives

As part of their recognition of the centenary of the First World War, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission have added documents from their archives to the information held in their online database. The documents include paperwork pertaining to the collection and reburial of bodies, the creation of cemeteries and details about headstones. There aren't documents for all men but where they are available, they appear on the bottom of the individual page so if you follow the links on this blog which can be found with each man's story you will be able to look for them.  Eventually I will update all the posts with any new information.

Occasionally these documents give a new piece of information, for example Robert Campbell Revera's body was identified by his disc, the other bodies exhumed with him all remained 'known unto God'.

Looking at the record for Sgt John Simpson D.C.M. Canadian Infantry, I realised that he is buried in a small cemetery, of the 216 graves, 211 are for Canadians killed over a period of 6 days in Sept-Oct 1918, many of them on 1st October, the same day as Sgt Simpson.  The paperwork appears to show that Sgt Simpson has his own grave but shares a headstone with Private W. Caton.

The paperwork does show up some inaccuracies in the CWGC database, I have noticed one soldier whose grave-reference number on the website is duplicated, I assumed before that he was in a shared grave but the paperwork shows that it is a typo and rather than both being in grave 27 one is in grave 37.  This sort of human error is understandable and the CWGC are pretty good at correcting mistakes when they are pointed out.

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