Did your ancestor lose their life as a result of enemy action in Britain during the Second World War? If they did, you’ll want to search this collection which celebrates and extends the work undertaken by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.
By combining the information produced by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) with data from other sources—such as online genealogical, civil and military records, contemporary street maps, burial registers and newspapers, as well as well-researched books and websites devoted to particular incidents or locations—the collection provides family, local and military history researchers with a significantly enhanced view of how enemy action affected individuals, families, neighbourhoods and communities across all parts of Great Britain. There are three particularly significant features:
This collection includes all people whose deaths resulted directly from enemy action (bombs, mines, shells, V1s and V2s, including those that exploded later) or from the outcomes of direct defensive operations (such as the crashing of enemy planes and the explosion of anti-aircraft shells). It does not include those who died in accidents or from illnesses not related to a specific incident.
These tens of thousands of people were the identified victims of enemy action. Identification was taken very seriously at the time and by the CWGC. Rescue squads laboured in difficult and dangerous conditions to ensure that the injured and the remains of every deceased person were found and removed. In turn, the meticulous work of local authorities, hospitals, mortuaries and cemeteries ensured that only a very small proportion of victims—perhaps one or two per cent—could not be identified and recorded in the CWDROH.
Research in these sources involves a degree of judgement about times, places and identity. Cities and towns were sometimes raided on consecutive nights, making it difficult to distinguish between different incidents. People’s date of death sometimes reflected when they were found, which could have been days after the raid itself. The CWDROH does not always make clear where and even when people who died later were injured, or names an area—Westminster or Bootle, for instance—rather than a precise location. For servicemen and -women, and some of those in the Home Guard and Merchant Navy, the CWGC provides only the place of burial.
Accordingly, some of the location details in the collection use other evidence from online and printed sources. Most commonly, location and date of injury has been deduced based on proximity to other deaths and injuries, or the presence of family or neighbours.
Despite best efforts, there may still be errors and omissions, and the data can always be improved. Users are encouraged to send questions, corrections and suggestions to email@example.com so that individual records can be checked and, where necessary, amended.