The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) has this week launched a new initiative to get local communities to visit war graves and discover the stories behind the names of those who gave their lives in the First World War – including a those buried in local cemeteries.
The CWGC launched its UK wide project to remember the forgotten front, the 300,000 war graves and commemorations right here in Britain to mark the centenary of the Battle of the Somme.
In Sussex, there are more than 2,100 war graves and commemorations to those who died during the First World War and more than 4,800 in total including those from the Second World War.
One of the graves is that of Lieutenant Terence McManus, 22, who died of wounds inflicted during the Battle of the Somme on July 1 1916 after arriving home to receive medical treatment.
Terence died on December 23 1919 and is buried at Ocklynge Cemetery in Eastbourne.
He was the son of J J McManus and his wife F W McManus, of Ryegate in Saffrons Road, Eastbourne.
The CWGC says Terence is just one example of the many soldiers who should not be forgotten and is a perfect example of someone who deserves to be remembered by the local community.
The CWGC Living Memory Project aims to encourage UK community groups to discover, explore and remember the war grave heritage on their doorstep. The CWGC is looking for 141 UK groups, to hold 141 events, to mark the 141 days of the Somme offensive.
English comedian, actor, writer, impressionist and voice-over artist, Hugh Dennis is the Living Memory ambassador for the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and is encouraging people to visit war graves.
He said, “I have a very personal connection with the First World War as both my grandfathers fought at the Western Front. My great uncles also fought and one, my great uncle Frank, died and is commemorated by the CWGC in Gallipoli, Turkey.
“I’d urge everyone to get involved in this initiative so we never forget those who died during the Great War and are buried and commemorated so close to us on the home front.”
CWGC has graves located in more than 12,000 locations in the UK. The majority of men and women buried or commemorated either died in a British hospital of injuries sustained during the First World War or in the influenza pandemic that followed. They must not be forgotten.
Remembering those buried in CWGC war graves in the UK is a fitting way to mark the Somme centenary.
Funding and creative resources are available to help groups identify a CWGC war grave near where they live. This can be to help towards researching about some of those buried locally and to stage a commemorative event.
Any community group interested can register now by emailing email@example.com or visiting www.cwgc.org/livingmemory.
CWGC director Colin Kerr said, “The overseas work of the CWGC’s is well known, but here in the UK there is little awareness of the graves and memorials to be found in more than 12,000 locations that commemorate more than 300,000 Commonwealth war dead of the two world wars.
“We believe this is wrong, and through the Living Memory Project aim to reconnect the British public to their commemorative heritage on their doorstep. The Living Memory Project will encourage more people to discover and visit our war grave sites and remember the war dead in those places from the First and Second World Wars. We want them to share their stories and raise awareness with their wider communities.”
CWGCs Living Memory Project is working in partnership with specialists, Big Ideas Company.
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