Thursday, 29 May 2014

Londonderry City Cemetery and the Great War.

The Imperial War Graves Commission, (now the Commonwealth War Graves Commission), was established by Royal Charter in May 1917. Its first president was the Prince of Wales. The person who can be said to be responsible for its establishment was Sir Fabian Ware, the commander of a mobile unit of the Red Cross. He wished to ensure that the final resting places of the combatants of the Great War would not be lost forever. His initial work was recognised by the War Office and referred to as the Graves Registration Commission. By 1918 some 587,000 graves had been identified although 559,000 casualties were registered as having no grave. Sir Edwin Lutyens was one of the architects chosen to design the cemeteries and memorials. Rudyard Kipling was appointed to advise on inscriptions.


The Commission applied in the 1920's to the Londonderry Corporation as the Burial Authority for the County Borough of Londonderry for permission to erect a memorial in the City Cemetery, "in permanent commemoration of members of his Majesty's Forces fallen in the late War and buried in the Cemetery." The drawings of the intended memorial were approved and the appropriate grant in perpetuity was granted to the Commission in 1927. The memorial is situated on the grass banking to the right of the main entrance driveway. I suspect that most people who drive or walk past this imposing cross are unaware of its significance. On 28th November 1928 the Corporation granted the Commission a perpetual right of burial and for the maintenance of the graves of those servicemen who had died in during the War.



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