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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Visitors' Books not retained according to CWGC - none survive?


Justinth

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Hi All

Reading in George Coppard 'With a Machine Gun to Cambrai' how in the early seventies he signed the visitors books in the cemeteries he visited on the Western Front, made me wonder if any old visitors books going back to the opening of the cemeteries survived. I therefore contacted the CGWC and received a brief reply:

'I am afraid no Visitors' Books from our cemeteries and memorials are kept, as we do not have the facilities to store such vast quantities of paper.'

I can understand not keeping them all, but it surprises me considering normal archival policy that not even a representative sample is kept. Aside from old soldiers and their families visiting after the war it is surprising that a sample is not retained on the grounds of recording an important piece of social history.

It also occurs to me that some books might be kept by staff and ex-staff. Does anyone have any ideas on this (perhaps having worked for the CWGC) as it appears that none are archived at the HQ of the Commission?

Best

Justin

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Just found a mention of this topic in the book "World War One and the Culture of Modernity' via Google books:

http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=nSR7a6TM7TwC&pg=PA191&lpg=PA191&dq=commonwealth+war+graves+visitors%27+books&source=bl&ots=Wv_Vn2WHz9&sig=5ZNGxZOMSYqazl2PL-lBMskuXOw&hl=en&sa=X&ei=xl4rU8H7LsGShQenpoHoBQ&ved=0CIEBEOgBMAk#v=onepage&q=commonwealth%20war%20graves%20visitors%27%20books&f=false

Notes 35 & 36 on the bottom of the page that this link brings up suggests that some more modern books have at least been archived for the Somme in Historial de la Grand Guerre in Peronne (Somme). Can anyone confirm this? The edition of the book suggests that this may have started any time between the mid 80s to the book's publication in 2000.

Best

Justin

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