In April 2022, I spoke to the Manx Stroke Foundation about the activities of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission in protecting the heritage of the Isle of Man. They published a report of the evening soon after. You can book an equivalent talk for your school, community group or business online here anytime.
14th April 2022, Commonwealth War Graves Commission Michael Josem
Michael Josem gave an excellent, illustrated talk on the origin and the work of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) at our club night on 14th April 2022. Before the First World War the resting places of those who died in battle were lost forever. Sir Fabian Ware worked to rectify this and the CWGC was formed. Work started in earnest in 1918 to locate the burials and graves of a million people who had no named grave. There were thousands of small cemeteries around Northern France and therefore larger sites were laid out in a burial plan which also included a memorial to the ‘unknown soldier’. The objectives were that each of the Commonwealth dead should be commemorated by name on a headstone or a memorial, that memorials and headstones should be permanent and that they should be uniform with no distinction for rank. There was also space at the bottom for personal inscriptions – Michael read out some very moving ones.
There are six countries represented in the CWGC and the Isle of Man comes under the UK. There are 363 commemorations in 21 sites on the Isle of Man, most are in Douglas Borough and in Bride there is just one. Five local volunteers on the island maintain these sites. In Patrick there are Turkish graves, these were enemy combatants, and each year a visitor from Turkey comes to put flowers on the graves. The work of the Commission continues to maintain and, in some cases, reconstruct memorials which have been destroyed by wars such as in Iraq. There is a repository of information which is gradually being digitised. This was a fascinating and informative presentation which left us with muchStroke Club Review