Friday, March 24, 2006

Commonwealth War Graves Commission

The CWGC web site has been completely revamped and has now a much better and easier to use interface. Unfortunately they also altered the URL and our original link no longer functioned. I have now amended the link and all is well again, taking us direct to the CWGC 'Records' page.

If you have your own direct link amongst your Favourites you may wish to amend it.


Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

The CWGC website is really invaluable. I have used their website many times in my research over the years.

However, a number of their records are incorrect in certain respects, or sometimes they are incomplete. Getting the CWGC to amend or correct their records is not very easy. I know, because I have tried!

For example, there are some I know where the date is incorrect on the record. One WW1 record I know about is actually 3 years too late. The casualty died in 1915 but the website says he died in 1918. Would that he had had the 3 years of extra life! In other instances the Next of Kin is missing.

The main 'proof' the CWGC seems to accept tends to be of a type that I do not have (eg Birth Certificates / Marriage certificates / Death Certificates). They will accept copies of wartime newspaper cuttings, photographs and such like as supporting evidence to amend a record, but not it appears without the other documentation.

I can understand the reasons for the reluctance to change a record to some extent. Yet it is most frustrating when you know the 'official' record is incorrect.

In some of the BBC "People's War" accounts I posted I mentioned some records that I know are incorrect. eferred to some of the WW2 instances that are incorrect. I have tried asking the Commission if they can check their paper records for a couple of casualties, because I feel the correct details should be there somewhere.

Perhaps it will all work out right one day. We owe it to those who died and their loved ones to get it right where we can.

Friday, 24 March, 2006  
Blogger Peter G said...

That is interesting. Have you tried cross-checking with Military-Genealogy.Com, the site run by the Naval & Military Press?

Friday, 24 March, 2006  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

I haven't come across this site before. Possibly it isn't used as much as the CWGC because there seems to be a fee to view the actual record?

I had a look at one of the entries I know is incorrect from WW1 (Isaac Cartmell, C Company 2nd Battalion The Border Regiment WW1, died 9 April 1915 at King's College Hospital London). The site you mention gives Ike Cartmell's correct birthplace (Whitehaven) but not his place of residence (Peter Street, Whitehaven). On the CWGC website they state he died on 9 April 1918 but I know it was definitely 1915 when he died. Pte Cartmell was one of the 'West Cumberland pals' who went away in 1914 with my relatives and joined 2nd Borders. Although Pte Cartmell was not the 1st to get killed he was the 1st in WW1 to be buried in the town cemetery with a Military Funeral.

Regarding WW2 inaccuracies on the CWGC website, two brothers I wrote about for a "People's War" story both died when their ship, the SS Empire Leopard was torpedoed on 2 November 1942 (George and Billy Acton). The CWGC correctly list George Acton's parents as Next of Kin, as he was unmarried. But they do not give any Next of Kin details for Billy (full name William Henry Acton). As I explain in the "People's War" account Billy had only just got married before he went away for this last voyage.

My guess is that Billy must have posted details of his Next of Kin just before sailing. Unfortunately this new information has somehow got lost in the official records. A niece of these George and Billy, who is also related to me, has inherited all the documents for George Acton. Similar documents will have been sent for his brother Billy Acton, but they will have gone to his new wife, who remarried some years later. So we do not have the actual documents that the CWGC will accept as 'proof' to add the missing details. We do have newspaper cuttings and a wedding photograph. I suppose the only way round it will be to pay for new birth and wedding certificates. it just takes additional time, effort (and expense). I feel somewhere in the CWGC they have the right information, but I might just have to make the extra effort and go to the registrar for new certificates.

In Billy Acton's case it is a real pity. Family and friends have always felt it important that the memory of their sacrifice should be known and passed on. It would be good to get the family details added to Billy's record.

Thanks for your help again Peter: it is always good advice.

Friday, 24 March, 2006  

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