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trenchwalker

How many unknown graves are there?

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trenchwalker

So 314,176 are unknown on the various memorials . But how many unknown graves are there. 

 

Im just trying to put it into context to people but I just can't find the answer. 

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thetrenchrat22

That’s one question I’ve always asked myself.  

 

I think that  it would be a question for the CWGC to answer 

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Coldstreamer

Surely it's unknown ? Or do mean unknown with head stone ?

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Harper

How would you count them?  Soldiers or graves or both?  In this picture from Hooge Crater Cemetery 10 soldiers share 3 graves.

P1090126 (640x480).jpg

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Terry Denham

The latest CWGC figure is 213,406 un-named casualties in their care though this figure includes unknown non-Commonwealth in their cemeteries.

 

This figure will vary slightly as time goes by due to some Unknowns being identified etc.

 

The figure is a body count and not the number of actual graves

Edited by Terry Denham

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Terry Denham

Just done the calculation.

 

The figure from CWGC for Commonwealth Unknowns is currently 189,002 (again a body count).

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Fattyowls

This is a question that has intrigued me for ages, ever since I read Martin Middlebrook's calculations  on the subject for the Somme in his guide to the battlefield. Thanks for the responses.

 

Pete.

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trenchwalker
1 hour ago, Terry Denham said:

Just done the calculation.

 

The figure from CWGC for Commonwealth Unknowns is currently 189,002 (again a body count).

Terry cheers 

 

I'm doing a talk 

 

and it one of this which when you try to put everything thing in figures then bring it down to one man 

1 minute ago, trenchwalker said:

Terry cheers 

 

I'm doing a talk 

 

and it one of this which when you try to put everything thing in figures then bring it down to one man 

 

Although is that just ww1 casualties ?

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Terry Denham

Apologies. I added two figures together when I should not have. Doh!

 

Here are revised numbers broken down

 

WW1 Commonwealth - 189002

WW1 Foreign National - 3448

WW2 Commonwealth - 24404

WW2 Foreign National - 728

 

Totals

WW1 - 192450

WW2 - 25132

 

These are only those in CWGC care.

 

As I said, the numbers will vary slightly from day to day as new remains are discovered and some Unknowns are identified.

 

Edited by Terry Denham

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Fattyowls
On 12/2/2017 at 10:44, Terry Denham said:

Apologies. I added two figures together when I should not have. Doh!

 

Here are revised numbers broken down

 

WW1 Commonwealth - 189002

WW1 Foreign National - 3448

WW2 Commonwealth - 24404

WW2 Foreign National - 728

 

Totals

WW1 - 192450

WW2 - 25132

 

These are only those in CWGC care.

 

As I said, the numbers will vary slightly from day to day as new remains are discovered and some Unknowns are identified.

 

 

Hi Terry, I've been trying and failing to put these numbers into context with an equivalent total number of war dead (known graves plus those named on memorials to the Missing). If we start with Trenchwalker's figure of 314,176 names on the memorials does this mean that 125,174 are still theoretically still on the battlefields. Sorry to take so long to formulate my question but I have a feeling I'm comparing apples with oranges if that makes any sense.

 

Pete.

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John_Hartley
1 hour ago, Fattyowls said:

does this mean that 125,174 are still theoretically still on the battlefields

I believe it does.

 

Some years back, Terry gave me the relevent similar figures for Gallipoli where something like 20,000 are commemorated on the Helles Memorial. From memory, the number of "unknown" burials was about half that number, leaving the other half still "out there".

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Fattyowls
1 minute ago, John_Hartley said:

I believe it does.

 

Some years back, Terry gave me the relevent similar figures for Gallipoli where something like 20,000 are commemorated on the Helles Memorial. From memory, the number of "unknown" burials was about half that number, leaving the other half still "out there".

 

Thanks John; that's interesting about Gallipoli as I have two of my footballers on the memorial at Helles; so statistically one of them is still out there. Of the men I've researched I think just over half have no known graves; I sometimes think about which ones might still be 'out there'.

 

Pete.

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Andy Wade

I wonder why they don't commemorate the ones with graves in cemeteries on their website as unknowns, with any accompanying documentation such as identifiers and concentration records? I know there would be some problems but it may be possible for researchers to use the information to correctly identify men who do have a grave. I have at least one man whom I have war diary information for, who could be one of half a dozen 'unknowns' in one cemetery. It may be that CWGC has nothing on him but it would be nice to see something on the website even if it's a 'no'.

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thetrenchrat22

If you search for a Cemetery by name, it will give a number of casualties in that cemetery 

 

hooge crater cemetery is 5,916 number of casualties 

 

then in click on the link it gives a number of identified casualties is 2,352 

 

they should have have the same thing for the Unknowns on there website 

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squirrel

314,176 less  192450 = 121726 the figure for all theatres or the Western front?

 

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2ndCMR
Quote

I am commanded by the Secretary of State for War and the Army Council to inform you that regrettably the cost of identification and burial of certain casualties of the late war has exceeded the funds available for that purpose and therefore will not be continued.   His Excellency joins the Council Members in hereby expressing their thanks for your late relation's service, and wishes to assure you that Lord Haig and Lord Jellicoe likewise appreciate the sacrifices that have been necessary to permit the £100,000. awards made to their Lordships by their grateful countrymen.

 

if you wish to sift about in the French mud yourself no objection will be made.

 

I remain Madam, yours etc.

 

Permanent Under-Secretary for War,

Secretary of the Army Council.

What they might as well have said.

 

 

How many?  Too many.

 

However, the Argentinian dead in the Falkland Islands have recently been exhumed, identified by DNA comparison and reburied there in individually marked graves, so a precedent has been set for those who might wish to pursue it?

Edited by 2ndCMR

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Alan24
16 hours ago, 2ndCMR said:

However, the Argentinian dead in the Falkland Islands have recently been exhumed, identified by DNA comparison and reburied there in individually marked graves, so a precedent has been set for those who might wish to pursue it?

 

This following paragraph is from a document received from CWGC regarding identification of unknown soldiers who already have a war grave. Obviously discovery of new remains are DNA tested frequently. 

 

"The CWGC’s policy is that the remains of Commonwealth war dead should be allowed to rest in peace. Therefore, exhumation for the purposes of DNA sampling would not be considered or sanctioned by the CWGC.  In this respect the Commission and its Member Governments follow the principle laid down in the Additional Protocol to the Geneva Convention, that the war dead should not be disturbed except for reasons of overriding public necessity."

 

Like many others contributors above, I've often wondered how many are still actually 'Missing' as opposed to laying in an unmarked CWGC grave. The numbers given in the above posts should help me sort that one out.

 

I had a relative killed in the attack on Boritska Trench in Sept. 1916 with the 1st Hants. Whilst listed as wounded in a casualty list at the time, today he his listed as one of the missing on the Thiepval Memorial. I can only assume he died of wounds and was buried in some sort of mass grave. However, the general area in which he probably died was searched in 1931 and many bodies were recovered and moved to the new (in 1931) Thiepval Anglo-French Cemetery. 300 British bodies lay here, 260 of them unknown. It's my personal belief that he is most likely one of those 260.

 

I did go through the Burial Returns for this cemetery  to see if I could find any clues to identify my relative, alas not, but did manage to identify 2 others fairly convincingly. CWGC showed little interest. The regimental museum are on my side.

 

Anyway, in my own mind, he's not missing, I'd like to think he's at Thiepval.

 

Regards

 

Alan.

 

 

 

 

 

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thetrenchrat22
3 minutes ago, Alan24 said:

 

This following paragraph is from a document received from CWGC regarding identification of unknown soldiers who already have a war grave. Obviously discovery of new remains are DNA tested frequently. 

 

"The CWGC’s policy is that the remains of Commonwealth war dead should be allowed to rest in peace. Therefore, exhumation for the purposes of DNA sampling would not be considered or sanctioned by the CWGC.  In this respect the Commission and its Member Governments follow the principle laid down in the Additional Protocol to the Geneva Convention, that the war dead should not be disturbed except for reasons of overriding public necessity."

 

 

Recently on the CWGC website, it shows that a Polish Airman from WW2 has been identified by DNA. 

 

But he was buried in that grave over 70 years ago.

 

is that statement still valid ?? 

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Alan24
4 minutes ago, thetrenchrat22 said:

 

Recently on the CWGC website, it shows that a Polish Airman from WW2 has been identified by DNA. 

 

But he was buried in that grave over 70 years ago.

 

is that statement still valid ?? 

Hmmm...interesting question.

 

That was a very recent quote, in the last 12 months in fact.

 

I suspect CWGC wouldn't be the first (or last) organisation to ignore their own policy!

 

Alan.

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chaz

its a question we often raise when visiting cemeteries and churchyards, especially churchyards when single graves of unknown exist , thing is commercial price? Ancestry DNA is around £79  multiplied by whichever number of unknown dead you want = who pays? do you ask government to pay in which case we all pay, do you ask relatives do you go commercial such as Ancestry?

probably easier to get dna from closer relatives than another generation back. but, how many relatives would be interested in finding their long lost relatives. judging by the medals that are on the market that families do not own, how many .....

 

regarding the Polish airman, chances are the number of candidates would be fewer and probably had a good idea who he would be so fewer (cheaper) to identify

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