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CWGC Question


Drafter

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Hello just wanted to ask how does the CWGC go about making the listings? Do they collect the info from the families and or government agencies? My great great uncle Eric James Bate is listed on there and just wondering how the CWGC would have went about creating a listing of him. I tried asking them last year to update his details and they wouldn't do it because they say it would be disrespectful which I fully understand where they are coming from on this. Is it because of family wishes that they don't want to do it or is just in general because of their sacrifices they made in the war?

I had noticed that his age is being list as 27 saw this last year and never thought anything of it. He was born December 23, 1890 and was killed in action November 8, 1917 there would have been no way that he would have survived to his 27th birthday technically it should be showing 26. I was just wondering if they got the info from his mother Elizabeth or from another part of the family or agency wondering if they thought that he was 27 by mistake. I sent them an e-mail yesterday about that and also about his other details. I also realize that with it being off by a year that it's no big deal to me but just something I had noticed. Any thoughts on this would be greatly appreciated. Drafter

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Drafter

The info stored by CWGC was originally supplied (in the case of UK casualties) by the War Office, Admiralty, Board of Trade (merchant seamen), India Office etc etc. For the Dominions and colonies, info was supplied by their equivalent organisations. CWGC did not 'collect' the initial info as such themselves.

From 1919 onwards, CWGC (then IWGC) sent out Final Verification Forms to the last listed address for next-of-kin given in this info. This form reproduced the details held and requested the n-o-k to supply any corrections and to add any personal details they wished. It was on this form that n-o-k requested a Personal Inscription for the headstone.

Obviously not all these forms were returned (some deliberately so) and these missing form casualties can be spotted in CWGC's database as they are the men with no n-o-k details etc.

Later, when the cemetery registers were going to press, a proof of each man's entry was sent to n-o-k and, again, corrections were solicited. If none were returned, the entry was printed 'as was'.

As the n-o-k were given two chances to correct info about their loved one (at least those that received and returned these documents), CWGC is loathe to change any personal detail when new info is supplied by current relatives/researchers and they take the view that the current info is what the relatives wanted to appear at the time. However, with good solid evidence, they will make such changes on occasions.

Unfortunately, the Final Verification Forms for WW1 were destroyed in the early 1970s but those for WW2 still exist.

Please note that they do not worry about age differences of one year. It was quite normal for relatives to 'round up/down' an age on documents and headstones.

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Hi Terry,

Interesting reply as always. I was wondering if the person concerned does not have a next-of-kin listed can one assume that the CWGC might more easily update/correct their records. Or is it just that they prefer in general to "let sleeping dogs lie" except when more things are completely incorrect.

Just wondering as I have a couple from Co. Antrim,

Liam

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Liam

The first thing that has to be understood is that CWGC is not a research organisation. Their remit does not extend that far. They are required to record the names of the fallen and where they are commemorated/buried - not to provide a full biography of each person. The n-o-k were given that opportunity on the FVF - and some did take advantage of it with quite detailed info. Others did not.

Therefore, they preserve the information as it was supplied and, generally, do not add to it taking the view, as I said, that the n-o-k had provided what they wanted to say - even if it was nothing. How is CWGC to know that the wife or parents of a casualty did not deliberately leave the details blank?

Having said that, CWGC has occasionally added details in specific cases - usually where direct family members have been involved in some way or the casualty is a newly recognised commemoration. Sometimes a small piece of historical info has been added more recently, probably in an attempt to reduce the number of phone calls/emails asking 'who was the first soldier killed in the war' etc etc. Also they added the citations for VC, GC, AM holders themselves when the registers were first published.

The first person whom I successfully had added to the CWGC list has his personal info added as well - supplied by me. However, I was required to supply all sorts of evidence as to why I stated that his parents names were X and Y etc. I could have supplied a complete biography but this would not have been included.

It would be tempting to supply biographical data for all those names who have none listed but I suspect that it would be rejected. Just like the NA, CWGC preserves what is there and tries not to embellish it (correcting clerical errors excepted).

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Thanks Terry.

It is sometimes difficult to remember what exactly the purpose or function of the CWGC was and is. It is an interesting problem, they are trying to work in this case in accordance with the n-o-k wishes and preserving the status quo. While we of the internet generations just want to have access to the best possible, correct records.

Like the NA who will not make corrections but sometimes will add additional information or updates. I understand that that sort of thing is not covered by the CWCG Charter. We, including myself will just have to adapt to the fact that the CWGC give us a great service but their main business is caring for the Fallen and are not a research organistion.

thanks once again,

Liam

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  • 2 weeks later...

That is so true with what you are all saying. I guess I am to forgeting the purpose of it. I was trying to see what more I could get added as I think it was said and what I was told by others that you need to prove the relationship and they just won't take the request as is. This might be of interest to any of you that may have relatives that are listed on the Canadian Virtual War Memorial which is run by Veteran Affairs Canada. Eric James Bate is listed on there and I was fighting with them since last year to update his details and in January they finally started to do it. They added in the statement written on his MM Citation about him is commerated on page 197 of the World War One Book of Rememberance, also got a photo gallery going on him an obituary, attestation papers and a photo of the 1914-15 Star he won that I have. That's the only one I have but did win the other ones. I asked them if anyone else from his family had enquired like I have been doing and I have been the only one so far. I never met that side of the family my mom and her family were never close to that side. They don't mind making these changes on their listings they get others that have made these kind of requests. They said they will add more images to his listing to that I have been collecting. But as for the CWGC I am fine with his details as is. Veteran Affairs Canada gave me the number for the CWGC office in Ottawa, Canada spoke to them and they have arranged to get me two photos of headstones one of Eric and my other great great uncle Samuel Johnson Alexander RAF Volunteer Reserve barried in Aberdeen nellfield cemetery.

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  • 2 weeks later...

The inscription on the certificate for a soldier at CWGC, is that the inscription that would be on his gravestone?.

Don't suppose ther would be any chance of them changing the letter ''A'' into Arthur?.

regards

jim

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If you are asking whether CWGC would add a full name instead of an initial to a headstone, the answer is - maybe (but not very likely).

CWGC record names as they were supplied to them by the authorities. Then the relatives were given the opportunity to correct or add to the info. If they did not amend 'A' to 'Arthur' then CWGC is unlikely to change it.

It is deemed that an initial and number etc is sufficient to identify a man and so that meets CWGC's remit.

You can always try but you would have to provide concrete evidence of the name and prove that the evidence related to the casualty concerned.

Names in place of initials is not a priority item for CWGC. Their remit is to commemorate the name and not to provide a historical research source. However, if you are a direct relative, a more sympathetic response may be received.

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Thanks Terry, I have contacted them and was told they would get back to me, which i suppose could be months.

As for me being a direct relative, he was my grandfathers brother(my dad's father's brother) and he never married and ther were no children, so i suppose i'm as much a direct relative as any other of my relations.

I don't expect them to change it but no harm in trying, i have nothing to lose.

Thanks Terry

jim

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