It’s been announced that the Commonwealth War Graves Commission will open a new visitor centre called the CWGC Experience in Beaurains, France in spring 2019.
Supported by the UK government’s LIBOR fund and located an hour from Calais, the centre will offer visitors access ‘behind the scenes’ of the Commission for the first time, seeing their artisan craftsmen at work.
Highlights will include access to the headstone engraving process, an overview of the metal and carpentry workshops and insights into the process of recovery and identification of soldiers still found on the battlefields after ten decades.
War cemeteries and workshops
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission is known for its maintenance of war cemeteries around the world. For the first time visitors will be able to see the Commission’s team of skilled craftsman at work, by taking a tour of their workshops and observing them as they continue their century long task of caring for some of the world’s most impressive and recognisable monuments and memorials.
The centre aims to provide a greater understanding of the organisation’s work commemorating the 1.7 million men and women who died in the service of King and Country during the two world wars.
It will provide a snap shot of the work of the Commission at over 23,000 sites across the globe where it continues to commemorate the final resting places of the war dead.
During your tour, visitors will be able to watch the Headstone Production Team using 21st century technology to carve the iconic headstones, carefully crafting regimental badges and personal inscriptions, ensuring the names of the men who died remain legible.
Plus, the highly skilled team of blacksmiths, stonemasons, carpenters and horticulturists will offer demonstrations on the restoration and conservation of the iconic features of the CWGC’s sites.
In addition, an exhibition will portray how the work of the Commission in burying the war dead is far from over. The team in France still help local authorities recover newly revealed dead from the battlefields on an almost weekly basis, a century on.
Displays will show this work, from the recovery of the body to the final reburial with full military honours, using all the historical, archaeological and forensic evidence to identify the casualty.
Further details about the CWGC Experience will be announced closer to the launch.
For more information visit www.cwgc.org.