12th December 2018
With Armistice Day fresh in everyone’s minds its hard to comprehend the 1.7 million men and women of the Commonwealth forces we have lost during the First and Second World Wars.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) commemorates the war dead by building and maintaining cemeteries and memorials at 23,000 locations in more than 150 countries and territories.
They are responsible for commemorating all Commonwealth war dead individually and equally. The war dead are commemorated by name on a headstone, at an identified site of a burial, or on a memorial, irrespective of military or civil rank, race or creed. The decision they took on equality of treatment, and the consequences it had for the form and nature of remembrance, caused controversy in the 1920s.
One of the most controversial decisions the CWGC took was to use a headstone and not a cross to mark the graves of the dead. Albion Stone are proud to provide the Commonwealth War Graves Commission with the highest quality Portland Basebed for their headstones. Currently, there are 750 headstones being produced in Albion Stone’s factory where, once they are ready, will be shipped off ready to be engraved.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission has a fascinating new exhibition called ‘Shaping Our Sorrow’. This exhibition explores how the CWGC shaped remembrance after the First World War by providing a physical form and emotional outlet for a nation and world in mourning. It showcases some of CWGC’s incredible archive collections (much has never been seen in public before) and is structured around the five stages of grief and highlights not just the history of their story, but also the emotional context of their work.
Jon Gedling, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s Director of Works said:
“When the guns finally fell silent a century ago, the Commission began the mammoth task of remembering the war dead. Only the very best materials were fit to mark the graves of the fallen and we began our long association with Portland stone – producing more than 1 million headstones to mark the graves of those who had sacrificed their lives to defend our liberty.
“Behind the names on each stone is a human story and to this day the Commission replaces and re-engraves thousands of headstones to ensure our war dead, and their stories, will never be forgotten.
“We are delighted to have worked with Albion Stone for so many years and to still be able to use Portland headstones when we need replacements – staying true to that principle that only the best is fit for our war heroes.”
As well as supplying the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Albion Stone have produced a number of other war memorials, these include Flanders Memorial Garden in Australia, the RAF Bomber Command Memorial in London, the vast circular memorial at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire, the Gurkha Memorial in Kent, HMS Illustrious Memorial in Dorset and the Frankton Memorial in Le Verdon-sur-Mer, France.