An Organisation of International Importance: The Work and Archives of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission

at Exeter Hall, Kidlington

by Will Reid; this talk commences at 8:00pm.

This talk will explore this extraordinary organisation from past to present with reference to the sites and casualties cared for across the world. It will begin by discussing the conception of the CWGC by its founder and the principles put into place at that time that continue to define what and how they do it. To illustrates this, you will then see some of the sites cared for in the UK and around the world and better understand what to look for when visiting them. You will then hear some of the extraordinary personal stories of casualties the CWGC cares for locally in Oxfordshire and the south east of England, before learning how to discover stories of your own using our online casualty archives. The speaker will then round the things off by showing you some of the incredibly special items stored in our archives, that provide a fascinating insight into the task of ensuring casualties of both world wars are never forgotten.

The speaker is the Public Engagement Coordinator for the South Region. He has always been fascinated by modern conflict history. It is something about the extraordinary variety of stories and the tangibility of this history that captures his imagination like no other period does. This influenced him to study a degree in Archaeology and to get involved in several projects investigating battlefields and aircraft crash sites and the soldiers connected to them, which naturally led him to discover this organisation. In April 2019, he was incredibly fortunate to begin his career by working for the Commission as a Commonwealth War Graves Foundation Intern at Thiepval Memorial in France. Some of his fondest memories of this experience are of helping visitors discover the relatives they never knew they had. The moment they made this realisation was always incredibly profound and moving, and is a feeling he will never forget. As of January 2021, he has been honoured to pick up where he left off as an Intern to continue playing his part in ensuring those commemorated by the Commission are never forgotten. So please do continue to browse these pages and discover a local CWGC site or a legacy of your own that will inspire you to uncover more of our shared heritage – you never know what you might find!’

We hope to meet at the Exeter Hall, Oxford Road, Kidlington, OX5 1AB, with the talk starting at 8:00pm. Doors open at 7:15pm, when there will be advisors offering computer and genealogy help. Tea and coffee will be available. Non-members are very welcome, though we have a charge of £2 as an entrance fee for them to contribute towards the hire of the hall and the costs of speakers. If this is not possible, the talk will take place via Zoom.

A summary of most talks will appear after an interval in the Members area of the OFHS website. Summaries of previous talks are also available in the same place.

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