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The War Graves Photographic Project

Posted  10 June 2016 in News   Projects and Resources  
By Hannah Clark
Guards Cemetry, Lesboeufs

The War Graves Photographic Project (TWGPP) is a voluntary group whose aim is to extend the work of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) by photographing every war grave and memorial worldwide. This joint venture was formally announced in November 2007 with the TWGPP website going live in February 2008.

The ethos of TWGPP is very simple: to enable families and researchers to obtain, via its website, a photograph of a grave or memorial which many cannot personally visit.

Initially the project’s brief was confined to Commonwealth graves or memorials for WWI and WWII but the scope has now widened to include all nationalities and all conflicts providing the casualty died in service.

Currently the website contains well over a 1.8 million images from 23,000 cemeteries or memorials in over 150 countries. Photographing the beautifully maintained CWGC cemeteries is one thing, tramping through the undergrowth of often neglected churchyards or vast corporation cemeteries looking for a single – or scattered headstones – is another story altogether, as volunteers can testify with many a frustrating or amusing story.

The project has over 1,000 volunteers worldwide from all walks of life. All that was required was motivation, a digital camera and the CWGC location data supplied by the project’s coordinators. It is probably a fair assessment to say that this is a project which owes its ultimate true worth to modern technology: the facility to download from camera to computer to website with comparative ease and speed.

With the centenary of major First World War events like the battles of Jutland and the Somme in 2016, local societies and schools are utilising the facility to prepare exhibitions and local publications to remember the men and women that are commemorated on local memorials. It is hoped that many families will discover this vast archive and find relatives who may have faded into obscurity.

Adding images to the website is an ongoing task and revisits to many cemeteries are being conducted by new volunteers to update the archive. Ultimately, when complete, the archive will form a lasting record of all those who paid the ultimate sacrifice.

Further information about the project can be viewed at www.twgpp.org

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