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How to trace a war grave

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BerichtGeplaatst: 12 Nov 2007 19:20    Onderwerp: How to trace a war grave Reageer met quote

November 10, 2007
How to trace a war grave
Tracing the war grave of a relative is surprisingly easy. Stephen McClarence lists the best places to start
Stephen McClarence

A faded photograph of my Uncle Arthurís grave had been in the family for more than 80 years. But it was only after a trip to France five years ago that I found out more about his death, aged 19, on the first day of the Somme.

I had expected a long search for his grave, but, thanks to the efficiency of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and Holts, the specialists in battlefield tours, finding it was surprisingly easy. And, since then, such searches have become easier still.

If youíre trying to trace the grave of a relative who died on active service, these are your first contacts:

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (01628 507200, maintains 2,500 war cemeteries in 150 countries commemorating 1.7 million war casualties. The Debt of Honour Register on its website is a database listing the men and women from Commonwealth forces who died during the two world wars and the 23,000 places where they are commemorated. With even just a few facts about a relative, it can produce results at impressive speed.

National Archives (020-8876 3444, houses Army Lists, usually organised by regiment, and the Medal Roll Index, listing servicemenís and womenís medal entitlement, rank and unit and possibly their postings. The Archives also has battalion war diaries and census records.

Specialist tour companies cater for a growing interest in war and family history, often as personal pilgrimages to relativesí graves. Holts Tours (0845 3750430, has trips to the major battlefields and cemeteries of Europe and beyond, including the biggest British and Commonwealth war cemeteries, at Tyne Cot near Ypres in Belgium (First World War), and Reichwald Forest, near Kleve in Germany (Second World War).

Leger Holidays (0845 458 5599, features Europe, the Falklands and Gallipoli and uses experienced specialists who can research servicemenís histories.

Also offering a research service are Battlefield Tours (0121 4305348, and Western Front Battlefield Tours (01492 576726,, both of whom run escorted tours and individual, bespoke ones. Kingshead Adventures (01689 837736, www.kingsheadadventures. com) offers a research service and specialises in bespoke tours for a maximum of six people.

First World War websites include, which has details and photographs of battlefields, and www.19141918. net/home.htm, which has plenty of helpful information, including tips on research. The Ancestry database of four billion names ( uk) includes First World War pension records, with personal information on individual soldiers.

Other useful sources of information include the Imperial War Museum (020-7416 5320, for general information, maps and military documents. Plus regimental museums, local newspapers and, most visibly, war memorials and church Rolls of Honour.
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