School groups are being encouraged to visit the new Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) Visitor Centre which has opened in the battlefields of Northern France.
Source: Andy Spencer & CWGC
For the first time, visitors can gain a fascinating insight into the behind-the-scenes work that makes remembrance of the 1.7 million Commonwealth war dead, possible.
Although searching of the battlefields ended shortly after the two World Wars, each year, CWGC’s officers find discoveries, recovering and recording every detail and item that might reveal the identity of an individual.
The main part of the new visitor centre, opened by HRH The Princess Royal in June, tells the story of these discoveries and the investigations that follow. Even at the current rate it would apparently take CWGC’s exhumation officers more than 4,300 years to find all of the missing – a chilling reminder of the scale of losses.
What else can school groups expect?
- For the first time visitors will be able to see the Commission’s team of skilled craftsman at work, touring 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 provides a snap shot of the work of the Commission at more than 23,000 sites across the world where it continues to commemorate the final resting places and memorials of the war dead.
- Groups can take a self-guided tour, with a free audio guide, around the experience seeing different aspects of work, from headstone production to blacksmiths and carpentry.
Victoria Wallace, CWGC’s director general, said: “For more than 100 years, the CWGC has worked to care for our war dead. I am delighted that we can now share with the public the skills, the dedication and the craftsmanship of our fantastic team, working on the Western Front and around the world.
”We hope young people in particular will gain inspiration from this extraordinary legacy of care.”
Essential information for schools
- Entry to the CWGC Experience is free and free parking is provided for all vehicles with fewer than 12 seats. There’s limited parking for larger vehicles; 12 seaters and above must book in advance and a parking fee applies for larger vehicles.
- Groups of more than 12 need to book in advance.
- The CWGC Experience is located just south of Arras in the heart of the First World War battlefields. The centre is only an hour from the channel ports and is easily reached by car (public parking is available on site). There are good rail links to Arras.