Jump to content
The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

Unknown soldier burials in the UK


Ralphed
 Share

Recommended Posts

Are there any unknown soldier burials in the UK and if so, how do i find where, how many etc? I was thinking perhaps near a military hospital. I could imagine there'd be unknown naval casualties washed up on a UK beach, buried and then given a CWGC head stone but I'd like to find soldiers, ID's unknown, recorded by the CWGC  in the UK somewhere.

 

Thanks in advance for any assistance.

Ralph

Link to comment
Share on other sites

There is 1 unknown soldier from WW2 in Landican cemetery, Birkenhead.  1 unknown airman from WW2 buried in RAF cemetery in Blacon, Chester
 

I do believe there are some in the UK for both the Great War and Second World War.  I know the question was raised with the previous director of the CWGC about this subject for France and Flanders on Twitter but the CWGC search engine wouldn’t be able to cope with the amount of unknowns. 
 

unless someone on here, as all the details, I would suggest connect the CWGC and raise the question with them as they will have the answers. 
 

when you have an answer from them and a list, it would be nice to see the details.  Please come back and post the details here.

 

Alan 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you for replying Alan.

The CWGC is obviously the font of all burial and memorial knowledge (not perfect but they do their best) but as you say it's not a lot of help with unknowns. With CWGC cemeteries abroad you can normally work out how many (if any) unknowns there are in any particular cemetery. For UK burials this is more difficult to work out as most CWGC headstones are in 'public' cemeteries and i was kind of hoping that GWF members 'local' cemetery knowledge could bear fruit.

I will ask the CWGC and post their reply.

 

Ralph. 

Edited by Ralphed
Link to comment
Share on other sites

An advanced Google search on the CWGC site and the term 'unidentified' brings up some results for UK Cemeteries. It's not clear from the search results which war, so each has to be checked. CWGC sometimes don't say which war. EG. Barrow-In-Furness simply says '1 unidentified burial' WWI

Rosskeen, 3 x Royal Navy.

Falmouth, 2 X Firemen from SS Clan Cumming.

Mochram,  2 X unidentified.

St. Agnes, 1 x Royal Navy.

Haslam RN, 2 X Royal Navy.

Dover, 19 x Civilians.

TEW

 

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for the reply TEW

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My question to the CWGC.

Are there any WW1 unknown Army CWGC headstones in the UK and If so, where and how many? I can imagine there are Naval ones. Any help appreciated.

The answer.

Hello, thank you for your message. There are only a handful of unidentified FWW war graves in the UK. One of the most well known is the unknown warrior: https://cwgc.org/our-work/blog/they-buried-him-among-kings-the-story-of-the-unknown-warrior/. Most though were probably washed ashore with nothing on them to identify who they were. Thanks, CWGC.

---------------

Conclusion based on the reply is that the 'handful' 'probably washed ashore' were connected with the navy but i suppose that it's possible that a soldier fell over board from a troop ship at some point.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I know of some in Ireland,  the first is WW2 however, but may be relevant in illustrating how some of these Unknown and buried well outside the normal battle areas.

There is an unknown CWGC headstone in Malin Church Graveyard which is the most northerly point in Ireland. The inscription reads: AN AIRMAN OF THE 1939 – 1945 WAR A FLIGHT SERGEANT (PILOT) ROYAL AIR FORCE FOUND 16TH JULY 1941. 

There are also unknown merchant seamen graves in Donegal & Mayo I'm familiar with whose bodies washed ashore but again WW2.

My nearest WW1 graveyard is in Finner Army Camp near Bundoran, Co Donegal and has 9 WW1 burials but all are named.

However this might be relevant as in Grangegorman Cemetery in the Phoenix Park in Dublin there are 2 unidentified graves from 1914-1918.

These are possibly from the War of Independence or most likely IMO were drowned on the sinking of the RMS Leinster by a German U Boat in October 1918.

But if you are looking for UBS from WW1 buried outside the normal areas then Grangegorman Cemetery might be of interest.

 

Edited by JasonMc
Link to comment
Share on other sites

19 hours ago, Ralphed said:

My question to the CWGC.

Are there any WW1 unknown Army CWGC headstones in the UK and If so, where and how many? I can imagine there are Naval ones. Any help appreciated.

The answer.

Hello, thank you for your message. There are only a handful of unidentified FWW war graves in the UK. One of the most well known is the unknown warrior: https://cwgc.org/our-work/blog/they-buried-him-among-kings-the-story-of-the-unknown-warrior/. Most though were probably washed ashore with nothing on them to identify who they were. Thanks, CWGC.

---------------

Conclusion based on the reply is that the 'handful' 'probably washed ashore' were connected with the navy but i suppose that it's possible that a soldier fell over board from a troop ship at some point.

That is two wick for an reply in my opinion, as I’m still waiting for a reply to a question I sent a couple of weeks ago. 
 

in their reply did they not give the exact number of unknowns in the UK and which service and location.  I thought this is what you wanted

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Alan i agree the answer is vague to say the least but I thought it would be this type of answer and why I asked the knowledge bank on the GWF. It would have been nice to have had some details or at least point me in the right direction where to look. I was hoping for confirmation on an army unknown buried in the UK for a fiction book I'm making preparations for. I like to be as factual as I can and although the unknown army grave wouldn't necessarily be central to the plot, I at least would be safe in the knowledge that there was at least one.

 

Ralph.  

 

Edited by Ralphed
Link to comment
Share on other sites

JasonMc thanks for the reply.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Dredging my memory from about 35 years ago: I think there is an unknown WW1 army burial somewhere in the Newcastle area.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You did say UK, and at the time, Grangegorman was in the UK.

We have covered a few times one of the unknowns buried there, a bizarre suicide by drowning if I remember correctly.

A man in uniform... somebody must have known who he was.

Totally, totally bizarre:

Edit: I don't think he is recorded by CWGC as an unknown (but that wasn't specified in the OP title!)

Edited by Dai Bach y Sowldiwr
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Wasn't this man disowned by the military authorities and buried by the civilian power? I really would  be happy to find he is a Grangegorman unknown (On whose graves I placed flowers), but the newspaper reports strongly indicate otherwise.

Dave

Edited by depaor01
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I was sent the Irish unknowns before and had a possible hit but was advised that it might prove impossible to prove a case. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

14 hours ago, Ralphed said:

JasonMc thanks for the reply.

👍 glad if it helped. Should you decide to set your novel in Ireland instead you will have no shortage of help to research the locations 😉 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 04/11/2021 at 13:00, Ralphed said:

Conclusion based on the reply is that the 'handful' 'probably washed ashore' were connected with the navy but i suppose that it's possible that a soldier fell over board from a troop ship at some point.

As you recognise, not necessarily just naval casualties - Given that there were a number of sinkings of troop-carrying ships, hospital ships, mail ships and similar vessels in UK waters [and some very significant numbers of lost personnel] it is likely that there were a number of unknown soldiers found washed ashore and buried from both WW.  As you seem to have identified, the trick is trying to find them :-/ 

CWGC seem very unhelpful, though I don't think it is necessarily deliberate, when trying to find unknowns both in theatre and at home.  Would be good to get the plot references for all unknowns in their cemeteries - sadly it seems only the ones we get plot numbers for are the knowns [Ok, you maybe able to calculate some unknowns by the gaps in the knowns but this is fraught with potential omissions]

As for in the UK further anonymous losses from sinkings and other scenarios into civilian / pauper / common graves seems always a possibility.

= If you do find / get any more info from CWGC - do please let us know.

:-) M

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Barrow-In-Furness?

Quote

There are 109 Commonwealth burials of the First World War here, including 1 unidentified burial.

Nothing on the History section CWGC to say what branch of service the unknown is.

 

CHARLEVILLE (HOLY CROSS) CEMETERY, Ireland

Quote

There are 5 Commonwealth burials of the 1914-1918 war commemorated here, 2 of which are unidentified soldiers of the Machine Gun Corps, 1921

 

LYDD CEMETERY

Quote

There are 21 Commonwealth burials of the 1914-18 war, 1 of which is unidentified

 

Greenock Cemetery

Overlooking the town of Greenock on the River Clyde, Greenock Cemetery is the largest cemetery containing graves from both wars in Scotland. The graves are scattered, with 100 burials of the First World War, including an unidentified British soldier, and a further 170 of the Second World War.

 

TEW

Link to comment
Share on other sites

13 hours ago, JasonMc said:

👍 glad if it helped. Should you decide to set your novel in Ireland instead you will have no shortage of help to research the locations 😉 

My man is going to Australia, France, Germany & Russia (not necessarily in that order) but he will have Irish heritage. :)

Edited by Ralphed
Link to comment
Share on other sites

5 hours ago, Matlock1418 said:

CWGC seem very unhelpful, though I don't think it is necessarily deliberate, when trying to find unknowns both in theatre and at home.  Would be good to get the plot references for all unknowns in their cemeteries - sadly it seems only the ones we get plot numbers for are the knowns [Ok, you maybe able to calculate some unknowns by the gaps in the knowns but this is fraught with potential omissions]

As for in the UK further anonymous losses from sinkings and other scenarios into civilian / pauper / common graves seems always a possibility.

= If you do find / get any more info from CWGC - do please let us know.

:-) M

Thanks for the reply. I also don't think the CWGC are deliberately unhelpful but i could have done without being told about the most famous 'unknown' laid to rest in Westminster. With regards to civilian/ local authority cemeteries with CWGC head stones, Having spent 3 hours in London road cemetery, Coventry on a scorching day looking for a WW1 relative I can relate to how difficult it can be. There are loads in London road dotted all over the place (WW 1&2) and the cemetery is cut in half by a railway track and i was in the wrong half. We did find William Shadbolt and I've since found a web site that lists the CWGC headstones which would have saved me hours. Bizarrely as well as being buried in Coventry, Shadbolt is also listed on the Loos memorial and I'd like to find out why. Dare i ask the CWGC ?      

Link to comment
Share on other sites

16 minutes ago, Ralphed said:

Bizarrely as well as being buried in Coventry, Shadbolt is also listed on the Loos memorial and I'd like to find out why. Dare i ask the CWGC ?      

Is he really buried in Coventry?  That seems the first question to get answered.

Certainly it's not uncommon for casualties to have a private memorial inscriptions on a family headstones in the UK - both for those with a named grave and those who are still 'missing' in an overseas theatre of war.

:-) M 

Edited by Matlock1418
Link to comment
Share on other sites

13 minutes ago, Matlock1418 said:

Is he really buried in Coventry?  That seems the first question to get answered.

 

It would appear so http://docs.wixstatic.com/ugd/fe513d_9818e72f20fc4797967044931c5ee3a5.pdf?index=true  (page 116)  To me, the logical answer is that because he died at home, some how the Grenadier guards gave the wrong information.  

Edited by Ralphed
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Just now, Ralphed said:

It would appear so

Please excuse the questioning - What is the source / proof?

And why might he have died in the UK rather than on the continent?

:-) M

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 minute ago, Matlock1418 said:

Please excuse the questioning - What is the source / proof?

And why might he have died in the UK rather than on the continent?

:-) M

Sorry but i posted before  i should have. Post is now complete..

Link to comment
Share on other sites

29 minutes ago, Ralphed said:

It would appear so http://docs.wixstatic.com/ugd/fe513d_9818e72f20fc4797967044931c5ee3a5.pdf?index=true  (page 116)  To me, the logical answer is that because he died at home, some how the Grenadier guards gave the wrong information.  

Same your source doesn't give its source(s) but if true it seems likely they got their info from newspapers which should be relatively easy to find again. [British Newspaper Archive and/or Find My Past probably] - and a Burial Register entry and a Death Certificate.

CWGC don't mind evidence-based suggestions for corrections.  Whether such are accepted depends on what is presented and accepted [along the lines of making a non-comm presentation for a new commemoration]

The current Shadbolt entry at CWGC is for Coventry https://www.cwgc.org/find-records/find-war-dead/casualty-details/1768712/william-shadbolt - if his name is still physically on the Loos Memorial then it is possible a previous notification/change has been made to CWGC but the Loos Memorial has not yet been changed - CWGC won't change until a major revamp/replacement is required.

:-) M

Edit: For Shadbolt, W. 19335, the CWGC Grave Registration Report Form is dated 2001 and the Headstone Schedule is dated 2002 - that looks like when CWGC, for whatever reason, decided he was buried in Coventry after all.

Edited by Matlock1418
edit and then expand
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Admin
2 minutes ago, Matlock1418 said:

The current Shadbolt entry at CWGC is for Coventry https://www.cwgc.org/find-records/find-war-dead/casualty-details/1768712/william-shadbolt - if his name is still physically on the Loos Memorial then it is possible a previous notification/change has been made to CWGC but the Loos Memorial has not yet been changed - CWGC won't change until a major revamp/replacement is required.

The War Office were told he was killed in Action in respect of the war gratuity.
image.png

The MoP have him as died of wounds.
image.png

There's certainly a lot of unanswered questions.

Craig

Link to comment
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
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...