North East Fife MP Sir Menzies Campbell, who has visited Commonwealth war graves throughout North East Fife, has called on local schools and constituents to visit their local Commonwealth war graves to gain a greater understanding of the scale and magnitude of the Great War and the impact that it has had on today’s society.
The call follows a national initiative spearheaded by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC), the All-Party Parliamentary War Heritage Group and the ‘In From The Cold Project’ that maps over 300,000 Commonwealth war dead by each Parliamentary constituency.
Sir Menzies is also a member of the Government’s First World War Centenary Commemoration Advisory Group.
Commenting, Sir Menzies said:
“This year marks the Centenary of the outbreak of the First World War and it is only fitting that the whole country pauses to honour the generation that was lost in that conflict.
“The Centenary is also an opportunity for us to educate our young people about the events of a hundred years ago and bring to life the personal stories that lie behind the gravestones and memorials throughout Fife.
“Visiting your local commonwealth war graves is a simple but important way of commemorating the outbreak of the Great War.”
Deirdre Mills, CWGC’s Director of UK Area states that: “The Centenary is an opportune time for us to re-engage and connect with local communities and young people, and explain how the people who are buried in our graves got to be there, who they were, and where they were from. More than 300,000 Commonwealth servicemen and women are commemorated in the UK. Many died in military hospitals whilst being treated for their wounds or fell victim to the flu pandemic as the conflict drew to a close. Their graves reflect both the local impact of the war but also its wider historical significance.
“To highlight some of the personal stories of those who are buried or commemorated in our graves, we are installing over 100 visitor information panels throughout the UK during the Centenary. The panels incorporate QR codes which, when scanned with the latest smartphone technology enable visitors to read these stories and understand the historical context.”
Working with schools to bring this extraordinary period of history alive for students , the CWGC is in May launching a Local War Graves Visits programme in six locations – Cambridge, Oxford, Cannock Chase, Southampton, Plymouth and Cardiff – with plans to extend this to other parts of the UK later in the year. Teachers will be able to take advantage of the CWGC’s network of vetted and fully trained volunteers to take them around CWGC sites and war graves, highlight key hotspots, and assist them with lesson planning.
At the Education Show in mid-March, CWGC launched an online Virtual Cemetery education portal that provides schools and teachers with a comprehensive range of resources and support materials linked to the graves and memorials in their home town. The virtual cemetery website www.cwgc-virtual-cemetery.org is an interactive tool which enables pupils and teachers to view images and videos, learn more about CWGC’s work across the globe, and – most importantly – the people that are commemorated in its cemeteries and memorials.
The virtual cemetery resource has been designed to encourage debate and spark pupils’ interest in thinking about the centenary of the First World War and the different ways in which everyone can remember the servicemen and women who gave their lives in the conflict. The website also supports teachers with curriculum notes, lesson plans and suggestions for classroom activities.
On Friday 11th July Sir Menzies visited war graves at the following locations:
Cupar New Cemetery
Kemback Old Churchyard
Leuchars Cemetery CWGC plot
St Andrews Cathedral Burial Ground
St Andrews Eastern Cemetery
St Andrews Western Cemetery
· CWGC maintains the graves of the 1.7 million Commonwealth servicemen and women who died during the two world wars. It also holds and updates an extensive and accessible records archive.
· CWGC operates in over 23,000 locations in 153 countries across all continents except Antarctica.
· A series of high-profile worldwide events will take place to mark the centenary of the First World War, many of which will take place at Commission sites. The Commission will ensure that these sites are maintained to the highest standard and is installing information panels at over 500 sites to enhance the visitor experience.
· The CWGC provides teachers and youth workers with a comprehensive range of educational resources and support materials so that future generations remain engaged in the work of the CWGC and continue to remember those who died in the two world wars.
· CWGC graves and memorials can be found in 13,000 locations throughout the UK. These range from individual headstones in remote countryside to distinctive, larger groups of graves in big urban cemeteries run by local authorities.