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verdun

CWGC Headstone Inscription Policy

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verdun

Can anyone please tell me what the CWGC "policy" was re: the dedication, or epitaph, at the bottom of headstones? Was there a word limit? Was information and guidance available? I also wonder whether there were boundaries of what was considered acceptable "taste"?

I did try contacting the Commission directly, but got no response, so thanks in advance to anyone who can help and apologies if this topic has already been covered. Regards to all, Peter

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Terry Denham

The regulations giverning the Personal Inscriptions were set out on the Final Verification Forms sent to every relative immediately after the war. These forms not only verified certain information for publishing in the IWGC registers but also allowed the NoK to supply their chosen inscription.

The basic rules were...

1) 66 letters maximum (spaces count as one letter)

2) No special alphabets such as Greek (not followed in a tiny number of cases eg music notation)

3) Cost was three & a half pence per letter (old pence)

If an inscription was refused by the NoK, no later relative could request one. If no answer was received, a later close relative could ask for one to be added (still applies today but there is a strict definition 'close relative')

The same form requested a decision on religious symbol if the cross was not to be used (eg Star of David or no symbol).

Payment prevented many people requesting an insciption but payment debts were not usually 'chased' and the payment later became voluntary.

It is often said that suggested texts were available and the repetition of certain phrases makes this a certainty though I have never seen any such 'official' document myself. It is also said that suggestions were made if the text was deemed 'inappropriate' but, again, I have never seen any official record of this.

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Terry Denham

It should be noted that the payment issue was treated differently by some of the Dominions.

The Canadian government paid the fees itself and the New Zealand government banned all such inscriptions as it felt the payment issue went against the equality for all principle.

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jay dubaya

Terry, I'm sure that I have read somewhere that the fee for an inscription was eventually dropped since so many families were unable or unwilling to pay, is this true?

Jon

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Terry Denham

Jon

As I said above, it eventually became voluntary. The fee was increased substantially for WW2 but again it was voluntary.

Looking at the figures in the IWGC Annual Reports of the 1920s, there was no problem getting fees from a large number of people as the sums received are substantial. There is nothing on the forms requesting payment up front - simply a promise by the NoK to pay the amount due at some stage. It hardly looks like a 'hard sell' but it certainly dissauded many people without large resources to forego the requesting of an incription.

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truthergw

At the time and indeed until well after WW2, it was normal to put a death notice in the local paper for any death. Along with details of the funeral, there was often a line or small verse. Occasionally there would be several of those notices from different family members.It was also the custom to mark anniversaries of deaths with a notice and again, a line or verse. The point is, there was a large body of these lines, couplets and verses which formed a well known pool for people to choose an appropriate one. I suspect that these might well be a source of the repeated inscriptions we are used to seeing.

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Terry Denham

Undertakers and stonemasons also had lists of standard texts for relatives to select. Maybe some of these came into use.

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Tom Morgan

Just for completeness, I thought Peter might like to see THIS INTERESTING THREAD discussing exceptions to the personal inscriptions rule.

Tom

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bruce

I have no idea of exact statistics, but it seems to me that there are far more such inscriptions on WW2 headstones than on those of the Great War.

Either the NoK had greater disposable income in 1946, or the fees were not increased with inflation, or the voluntary nature of the costs was stressed.

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Guest tafski
The regulations giverning the Personal Inscriptions were set out on the Final Verification Forms sent to every relative immediately after the war. These forms not only verified certain information for publishing in the IWGC registers but also allowed the NoK to supply their chosen inscription.

The basic rules were...

1) 66 letters maximum (spaces count as one letter)

2) No special alphabets such as Greek (not followed in a tiny number of cases eg music notation)

3) Cost was three & a half pence per letter (old pence)

If an inscription was refused by the NoK, no later relative could request one. If no answer was received, a later close relative could ask for one to be added (still applies today but there is a strict definition 'close relative')

The same form requested a decision on religious symbol if the cross was not to be used (eg Star of David or no symbol).

Payment prevented many people requesting an insciption but payment debts were not usually 'chased' and the payment later became voluntary.

It is often said that suggested texts were available and the repetition of certain phrases makes this a certainty though I have never seen any such 'official' document myself. It is also said that suggestions were made if the text was deemed 'inappropriate' but, again, I have never seen any official record of this.

some paper work

3.jpg

4.jpg

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Desmond7

Never come across one of those forums before .. nice one.

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Peter and Ellen

Hi Peter,

The above is information is correct and the Australians also had government paid inscriptions. As you go around cemeteries in France and Belgium, you will see on Australian graves many, many family inscriptions. I suspect that the Australians may have the highest number of family messages on headstones than any other nationality...such was the out-pouring of sadness and grief.

If I may share a grave visit with you. In 1999, I visited a family grave in The Strand Military Cemetery in Ploegsteert, Belgium. My Mother and I placed some flowers into the ground at the base of the headstone, perhaps they would strike. I took a photograph with a 35mm film camera. I scanned that photo some two years later and noticed there was a message there. I enlarged it and it says, May some kind soul plant a flower for a sorrowing mother. I cried. To think that we were the first visitors, we unknowlingly planted some flowers, and I shared his blood.

I have since returned and placed an freshly un-potted plant into the ground. It is still there today.

Even though I still tear-up, I smile to know that I was the kind soul who now looks after his grave. It is an honour.

LEST WE FORGET.

Peter

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Terry Denham

Thanks for posting those, Tafski. My examples are not suitable for posting.

It is interesting that there are several different versions of the Final Verification Forms (Tafski's is very different to mine). Obviously they changed in format as time went by. However, they all basically say the same thing.

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Kieran

Just a query gents.  While doing research and visiting the grave of a relation who was killed in action in world war one I found his name on the head stone was not spelt correctly. Any advise on having this rectified.

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mandy hall

Contact The Commonwealth War Graves Commission, see the below link.  They do require evidence.

 

https://www.cwgc.org/about-us/faqs#amendments

 

i had the date of death of my great uncle amended by CWGC.

 

Mandy

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