Jump to content
Great War Forum

Remembered Today:

"A Soldier of the Great War - Known unto God" = Is there a freely searchable database of such graves?


Recommended Posts

Having so often looked at UK CWGC cemeteries and graves I was not very familiar with "A Soldier of the Great War - Known unto God" and the like on those CWGC headstones.

But, having recently visited the Somme I was struck with how many there were in the cemeteries there -  often appearing to be more numerous than the identified/named headstones.

Looking at the CWGC listings for those cemeteries the CWGC seem to only give the numbers of identified casualties and the details of such identified casualties on their online database - so easy to find named casualties from the "Blankshire Regiment" there, but ...

  • How do you find those casualty numbers [for the avoidance of any doubt - not service numbers], by cemetery, of those buried there and potential unit details of those un-named / those under a headstone - "A Soldier of the Great War" or "A Soldier of the Blankshire Regiment" ?
  • Is there a searchable database etc. for the unknowns of a specific unit such as the "Blankshire Regiment" by cemetery/by theatre/by nation etc.??
  • Have I missed something really, really obvious???

Thanks in anticipation of your reply(ies) [Please be kind to me and my naive question]

 

Explanation for enquiry - you may reply on this too should you wish - If a man is known killed in action / died of wounds at a fairly specific location then it might seem most logical that his mortal remains, identified or un-identified as they apparently were/might have been, would most likely be originally buried locally or later concentrated fairly locally to his place of death. 

[I know the mortal remains and/or details may have been further lost after the original burial or on concentration if originally or subsequently poorly identified, if the original grave was disturbed, not well marked etc.]

However, if seeking a place to remember - might it not be likely that doing so at a local cemetery with un-identified but known same regiment graves might be more poignant and potentially seem more meaningful than just at one of the memorials to the missing ??? [I know this is very subjective]

Just a thought of mine for when next visiting the areas where two lost soldiers died near Armentieres and now commemorated on the Ploegsteert Memorial - they may perhaps actually be in unnamed CWGC graves. ????????    

For specifics - men of Royal Warwickshire Regiment (2nd Bn) 1914 and and King's Royal Rifle Corps (16th Bn) 1918 of prime interest.

Edited by Matlock1418
Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Matlock1418 said:

 

Looking at the CWGC listings for those cemeteries the CWGC seem to only give the numbers of identified casualties

 

Pending someone coming along with far greater knowledge than I on this subject, I have quoted a very limited part of your post to suggest that this isn't quite true.  If you search for a particular cemetery and click on the results to highlight the one you want, it will tell you the number of casualties there.  For example, Guillemont Road has 2268.  If you then click on the right arrow, the resulting page tells you there are 741 identified casualties.  I know this doesn't get you very far but it is a start.  Care also needs to be taken to exclude, for example, ww2 casualties ... try London Cemetery, Longueval where there are 4039 casualties, 911 identified but there are 165 from WW2.  I believe this cemetery has the highest proportion of unknowns, probably as a result of concentrations.

 

Good luck!

 

Reg

Link to post
Share on other sites
8 hours ago, Don Regiano said:
10 hours ago, Matlock1418 said:

 

Looking at the CWGC listings for those cemeteries the CWGC seem to only give the numbers of identified casualties

 

Pending someone coming along with far greater knowledge than I on this subject, I have quoted a very limited part of your post to suggest that this isn't quite true.  If you search for a particular cemetery and click on the results to highlight the one you want, it will tell you the number of casualties there.  For example, Guillemont Road has 2268.  If you then click on the right arrow, the resulting page tells you there are 741 identified casualties.  I know this doesn't get you very far but it is a start.  Care also needs to be taken to exclude, for example, ww2 casualties ... try London Cemetery, Longueval where there are 4039 casualties, 911 identified but there are 165 from WW2.  I believe this cemetery has the highest proportion of unknowns, probably as a result of concentrations.

 

8 hours ago, Don Regiano said:

I have quoted a very limited part of your post to suggest that this isn't quite true.

 

Perhaps originally not magnificently well phrased on my part - I had earlier noted such figures and I take your point, to a degree, but ... the headline record for London Cemetery says "Total identified casualties 911  Find these records" [total from both wars] when going to "Find those records" you get FWW 764 and SWW 149 = 913 so a discrepancy there [but notwithstanding that - the 913 is repeated on the cemetery details page].

But you can't see the numbers of, or any basic details on, the unidentified/only partially identified casualties [and there will be some/many partially identified]

Only when you look at the cemetery "History Information" do you get the "3,873 First World War burials, 3,114 of them unidentified"

 

My main point is that of those totally unidentified it is hard to number them or locate them ['geographical' spread in the cemetery can be very illuminating] and likewise for the only partially identified [there must be some/many who, even if not by name, are identified to rank (soldier or officer) and/or unit level].

But how to determine the rank, unit and numbers and burial locations of those 'unknowns/Known unto God' involved?

 

How search/to find those statistics and basic details, locations etc. of unnamed soldiers, NCOs and officers from the "Blankshires", etc. ???  ... That is the big question.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I thInk that the CWGC has tried something to identify the unknown s on there database but the system did not like the wording Unknowns.  
 

this was something that was said on tweeter 

 

I think the person was able to get a list of the unknowns from a Regiment in cemeteries 

 

but don’t quote my on that

Link to post
Share on other sites

There are 109 Unknown C.W.G.C. graves in Ireland.

Link to post
Share on other sites

"Explanation for enquiry - you may reply on this too should you wish - If a man is known killed in action / died of wounds at a fairly specific location then it might seem most logical that his mortal remains, identified or un-identified as they apparently were/might have been, would most likely be originally buried locally or later concentrated fairly locally to his place of death. "

 

 

Before visiting the Cambrai area, following the final days of my Gt Uncle (who was never found), I did lots of research and made copious notes. I travelled out with a list of Unknowns buried in cemeteries closest to where he was lost. These were not only Coldstream Guards but some shown as 2nd Battalion like Uncle Arthur. It was poignant to stand in front of these graves and think that one just possibly could be him. Afterwards I tried to re-check the list but could not work out at all how I had found the original details! Eventually I realised that what I had done was search the appropriate cemeteries for Coldstream Guards who had fallen on the same date and in looking at the Grave Registration Forms on CWGC I had come across Unknowns. Some of them were simply Unknown, some unknown Coldstream Guards and some 2nd Btn. That was how I had made my list. I think!

 

It is a long-winded way of doing it but if you are trying to find possible unknowns to fit in with a specific soldier it might be possible to pick some up this way.

 

Margaret

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

I am currently creating a database of all of the burials in the Guillemont Road cemetery. I started by downloading the Excel file from the CWGC website, which gives me the 741 'knowns' which I imported into my database.

 

I then downloaded the GRRF files which show all of the details for bodies recovered and subsequently buried in the cemetery. Now, I am extracting the unknowns from these forms (a long, slow process) until I have all 2,268 bodies accounted for. 

 

I will then be able to plot the original burial locations on a map of the area. 

 

I am trying not to get distracted at this stage but there are a number of leads in the forms which will hopefully allow me to attempt to identify some of the unknowns. But I want to input all of the data first, and then to look at the individuals.

 

What I've learned so far is that where a body is now buried depends upon when his body was recovered.

 

Ken

Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, Jim Strawbridge said:

I understand that Geoff's search engine has come back on line. His search engine uses CWGC information but makes it easier to get at it. Would that help?

Sorry but it didn't seem to hit the spot :-(

3 hours ago, thetrenchrat22 said:

I thInk that the CWGC has tried something to identify the unknown s on there database but the system did not like the wording Unknowns.

Too right the CWGC system doesn't like "Unknown"!!!

Having just contacted CWGC they say I should e-mail them and then they can look at their own, 'invisible to the public', database incl. unknowns - will have to give that a go, but ...??? :-/

2 hours ago, Margosh said:

It was poignant to stand in front of these graves and think that one just possibly could be him

So it is not only me that thinks that way :-)

1 hour ago, Ken Lees said:

I am currently creating a database of all of the burials in the Guillemont Road cemetery.

OK so that is Guillemont Road sorted - when will you have the other cemeteries done? ;-)  ;-)

It certainly will be a long job - I was hoping AN Other or now possibly CWGC would have it already - just not visible to Joe public it might seem

2 hours ago, Ken Lees said:

I will then be able to plot the original burial locations on a map of the area. 

Also a potential part of my idea for concentrations

How did you find all the GRRF beyond looking at each known casualty?

Surely quite difficult to link one unidentified casualty at location x with his new location in a later cemetery plot or vice versa I would think

1 hour ago, Ken Lees said:

What I've learned so far is that where a body is now buried depends upon when his body was recovered.

I'm guessing that long dead / late recovered men will often be buried far from their immediately collected chums, even if in same cemetery

 

Thanks to all.

Now I'm off to compose that e-mail to CWGC ... unknown RWR and unknown KRRC in cemeteries near Armentiere [what radius do you think?]

In hope ... Wish me luck!

 

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, Matlock1418 said:

How did you find all the GRRF beyond looking at each known casualty?

 

Canada to your assistance! 

 

This is an old post but it tells the story: 

 

https://www.greatwarforum.org/topic/229379-cefsg-sharing-resources-with-gwf-sawgp-anzac-india-etc/

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
39 minutes ago, laughton said:

Canada to your assistance!

 

Thank you Canada (or can we call you Richard?). I've got a feeling that the answer to one of my unknown research interests may be contained herein but rather than hijack Matlock's very thought provoking thread I'll post something separately. I hope it will be ok to put a link to your good self.........

 

Pete.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Canada = Richard = Laughton = cefmatrix

http://laughton.tel

 

Quote

What I've learned so far is that where a body is now buried depends upon when his body was recovered.

 

After the initial battlefield clearings there was a long process, for many years - still ongoing - when burials took place. At specific times there were what the CWGC refers to as "cemeteries open for concentrations", so a body could travel well out of the area from where it was found to the cemetery that was open at that time.

 

One of the most common that I have seen were the concentrations into the Cabaret Rouge British Cemetery. It was there I recently found a long lost Canadian who was lost at Rue Petillon. I had searched all the cemeteries near to where he was KIA but could never find him - one man of the 13th Battalion in the opening days of the war for the Canadians. Oddly, another Canadian, KIA quite some time later was transported back to Rue Petillon.

 

https://cefresearch.ca/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=74&t=12777&p=114220&hilit=montanelli#p114220

Link to post
Share on other sites
On 29/10/2019 at 21:50, Matlock1418 said:

Having so often looked at UK CWGC cemeteries and graves I was not very familiar with "A Soldier of the Great War - Known unto God" and the like on those CWGC headstones.

... and the like ...

Soldiers not common in the UK in my experience - mainly "An unknown seaman" - many found in Cornwall from wrecks/sinkings in the Atlantic, English Channel & Irish Sea

 

On 30/10/2019 at 12:23, museumtom said:

There are 109 Unknown C.W.G.C. graves in Ireland

As above - I might suspect many in Ireland are from the Mercantile Marine, especially when 'Lascar' seamen, firemen and trimmers etc. from the south asian sub-continent etc. were involved

Link to post
Share on other sites
18 hours ago, laughton said:
22 hours ago, Matlock1418 said:

How did you find all the GRRF beyond looking at each known casualty?

 

Canada to your assistance! 

 

This is an old post but it tells the story: 

Thank you for your comprehensive post and links!

I have to admit I am struggling with the magnitude of the task you have undertaken and now the methodology and resources you have since brought to play

But ... Well done CEFSG and all others involved.

GRRF were not/are probably not my main interest, but ... who knows, they might become so!

On 29/10/2019 at 21:50, Matlock1418 said:

for when next visiting the areas where two lost soldiers died near Armentieres and now commemorated on the Ploegsteert Memorial - they may perhaps actually be in unnamed CWGC graves. ????????    

For specifics - men of Royal Warwickshire Regiment (2nd Bn) 1914 and and King's Royal Rifle Corps (16th Bn) 1918 of prime interest.

Notably ...

2RWR Soldiers died 18/19/20 December 1914 - 18/19 was a unsuccessful attack near Le Maisnil - 2RWR appear in large number on Ploegsteert Memorial - but I feel many/fewer [?] in graves [Ypres Reservoir Cemetery x 4] or ??? unknowns in ??? CWGC cemeteries.

Where are the recovered unknowns?

 

16KRRC Soldiers died 12/13/14 April 1918 - 16KRRC appear in large number on Ploegsteert Memorial - but I feel many/fewer [?] in graves [Nine Elms British Cemetery x 1 and Wulverghem-Lindenhek Road Military Cemetery x 1] or ??? unknowns in ??? CWGC cemeteries.

Where are the recovered unknowns?

 

18 hours ago, laughton said:

After the initial battlefield clearings there was a long process, for many years - still ongoing - when burials took place. At specific times there were what the CWGC refers to as "cemeteries open for concentrations", so a body could travel well out of the area from where it was found to the cemetery that was open at that time.

Typically up to how far?

A few miles?  Tens of miles?

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
48 minutes ago, museumtom said:

Yep, 74 of the 109 were Seamen

Any other - soldiers - from the Leinster sinking in October 1918?

[just an aside!]

Link to post
Share on other sites

Only 50 have dates of death, of these 50, 2 are 1921 and one 1916.

Link to post
Share on other sites

 

1 hour ago, Matlock1418 said:
2 hours ago, museumtom said:

Yep, 74 of the 109 were Seamen

Any other - soldiers - from the Leinster sinking in October 1918?

 

1 hour ago, museumtom said:

Only 50 have dates of death, of these 50, 2 are 1921 and one 1916.

Just wondering as I have previously come across other named graves from that sinking.

And recently there was a new thread on GWF Re: Pte. Patrick Lawler 171434 who is recorded as having died on the RMS Leinster, and his widow given a pension for it, but he is not commemorated by CWGC.  Just a passing thought.

See:

But an aside really in this thread

Link to post
Share on other sites

I cannot find him either Matlock. As Terry says you need a death cert.

Link to post
Share on other sites
8 minutes ago, museumtom said:

I cannot find him either Matlock. As Terry says you need a death cert.

But DC from where???

OP says not yet in Ireland 

I've not yet found at GRO Eng/Wales either!

I can't access Scottish

???

Link to post
Share on other sites

There lies the problem. I could not locate it either.

Link to post
Share on other sites
9 minutes ago, museumtom said:

There lies the problem. I could not locate it either.

See Oak's recent reply in the other Leinster thread - Apparently many DC weren't issued for the Leinster casualties = ???

Where that leaves this Lawler man and CWGC I don't know - but if you have any ideas/info please attach to the other thread, thanks.

:-)

 

Now ... Back to my main problem of 'unknown' RWR & KRRC in F&F ... hmmm?

Edited by Matlock1418
Link to post
Share on other sites
On 30/10/2019 at 20:20, laughton said:

After the initial battlefield clearings there was a long process, for many years - still ongoing - when burials took place. At specific times there were what the CWGC refers to as "cemeteries open for concentrations", so a body could travel well out of the area from where it was found to the cemetery that was open at that time.

You are not kidding about recovered bodies potentially moving quite a long way - Much further than I thought would have been the case [I was perhaps rather naively it seems thinking up to 5 miles, possibly 10 miles tops].

  • I have today now found 4 named and 7 un-named 2RWR casualties who died 18/19 Dec. 1914 from an original find location at Sheet 36.N.6.a.95.90 just north of Le Maisnil [so presumably from the unsuccessful 2RWR attack upon Le Maisnil 18/19 Dec. 1914] whose bodies were 'concentrated' into Ypres Reservoir Cemetery - that's c.19 miles [c.30 kilometres] by road today!

I know this might not by any means be the furthest move, but it seems a lot to me.

Edited by Matlock1418
Link to post
Share on other sites

Just out of interest Matlock, what was the period of the concentration into Ypres Resevoir from Le Mesnil? I have an interest in one of the 2nd Royal Warwicks killed on the 18th, Frank Costello. I've always assumed that he might have been one of the bodies buried in no man's land during the uneasy truce on the 19th, which was the precursor for several similar burials on Christmas Day. Given what you've discovered one of the unidentified 7 could be Frank.

 

I've also been told of men from a mass grave at Ovillers-la-Boiselle being taken to Terlincthun at Calais, a distance of almost exactly 100 miles by road; but I think this may have been much later than the original battlefield clearances.

 

Pete.

Link to post
Share on other sites
30 minutes ago, Fattyowls said:

Frank Costello. I've always assumed that he might have been one of the bodies buried in no man's land during the uneasy truce on the 19th

Frank or Frederick?  I could only find a Frederick #7839  - also on Ploegsteert memorial like my POI

My casualty was reported [rather second hand in a 1915 family letter] to have been buried, allegedly with others in an old trench [then and now unidentified], in that uneasy truce [that truce is of course confirmed in the 2RWR WD] and I'm wondering where he might now be - YRC ??? 

30 minutes ago, Fattyowls said:

what was the period of the concentration into Ypres Resevoir from Le Mesnil?

1 named casualty on a Concentration form dated 18.5.21 - with 2 un-named

2 named casualty on a Concentration form dated 20.5.21 - with 3 un-named

1 named casualty on a concentration form dated ??.??.19?? - with 2 un-named

I'm sort of assuming that these must have been the dates - but given my limited experience working with Concentrations I could easily be proved wrong!

But for what? = Exhumation?  Reburial?

I'm always happy to be educated/put right!

Edited by Matlock1418
addit
Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
×
×
  • Create New...