The University of Western Australia
The First World War resulted in an unprecedented number of casualties on both sides of the divide. Soldiers were buried on the battlefields in their thousands in individual and mass graves, often where they fell. If they were lucky a simple cross or marker with their details may have been erected to mark the location, but not all were so lucky. Due to the nature of trench and siege battle, the remains of many fallen soldiers were lost when trenches or tunnels collapsed, or were rendered unrecognisable from artillery and grenades. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) was initially designed to record, memorialise, and maintain the graves of Commonwealth soldiers who died in World War 1 and 2. This paper discusses the role of the CWGC in the forensic identification and memorialisation of the missing and unknown casualties of WW1.
Keywords: First World War, Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Forensic identification, Battlefield archaeology, Fromelles, Beaucamps-Ligny