List of Commonwealth War Graves Commission World War I memorials to the missing in Belgium and France
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) aims to commemorate the UK and Commonwealth dead of the World Wars, either by maintaining a war grave in a cemetery, or where there is no known grave, by listing the dead on a memorial to the missing. This is a listing of those memorials maintained solely or jointly by the CWGC that commemorate by name the British and Commonwealth dead from the Western Front during World War I whose bodies were not recovered, or whose remains could not be identified. In addition to those listed here, there are numerous CWGC memorials to the missing from other battlefields around the world during the war, which are not listed here, most notably the memorials at Gallipoli, and the memorials to those lost at sea and in the air. There are also memorials to the missing from other combatant nations on the Western Front, especially those of Germany and France, but only the CWGC-maintained memorials are listed here.
Although listing the names of dead soldiers on memorials had started with the Boer Wars, this practice was only systematically adopted after World War I, with the establishment of the Imperial War Graves Commission, which was later renamed the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Due to the rapid movement of forces in the early stages of the war, many of the casualties of the initial World War I battles had no known grave, and were instead commemorated after the war on 'memorials to the missing'. In later battles, the intensity of the fighting sometimes meant that bodies could not be recovered or identified until much later. The highest number of casualties occurred on the Western Front in France and Belgium. In total, over 20 separate CWGC or national memorials to the missing of the Western Front were designed and built. They were commissioned and unveiled over a period of around 15 years from the early 1920s to 1938, when the last of the planned memorials was unveiled. The numbers listed on the memorials reduces over time as remains are discovered, identified, and buried in a war grave, with the name removed from the memorial where it was listed, but over 300,000 war dead are still commemorated by these memorials to the missing.
List of memorials
|Article and reference||Picture||Country||Location||Co-ordinates||Number listed||Description of those listed||Dates covered||Major battles||Date unveiled||Memorial designer||Memorial unveiled by|
|Thiepval Memorial||France||Thiepval||72,194||United Kingdom and South Africa||July 1916 to March 1918||Somme Offensive||1 August 1932||Edwin Lutyens||Edward, Prince of Wales|
|Menin Gate Memorial||Belgium||Ypres||54,382||Commonwealth nations, except New Zealand||October 1914 to 16 August 1917||Ypres Salient||24 July 1927||Reginald Blomfield||Lord Plumer|
|Tyne Cot Memorial||Belgium||Ypres||34,916||Commonwealth nations||16 August 1917 to September 1918||Ypres Salient||20 June 1927||Herbert Baker||Sir Gilbert Dyett|
|Arras Memorial||France||Arras||34,785||United Kingdom, South Africa and New Zealand||Spring of 1916 to 7 August 1918||Battle of Arras||31 July 1932||Edwin Lutyens||Lord Trenchard|
|Loos Memorial||France||Loos-en-Gohelle||20,610||Commonwealth nations except India and Canada||25 September 1915 to 11 November 1918||casualties in the area during and after the Battle of Loos||4 August 1930||Herbert Baker||Sir Nevil Macready|
|Pozières Memorial||France||Pozières||14,692||United Kingdom and South Africa||21 March 1918 to 7 August 1918||Spring Offensive||4 August 1930||William Harrison Cowlishaw||Sir Horace Smith-Dorrien|
|Le Touret Memorial||France||Richebourg-l'Avoué||13,389||Commonwealth nations except India and Canada||1914 to 25 September 1915||casualties in the area prior to the Battle of Loos||22 March 1930||John Reginald Truelove||Lord Tyrrell|
|Ploegsteert Memorial||Belgium||Messines||11,389||United Kingdom and South Africa||October 1914 to September 1918||casualties in and around the Ypres Salient, not major offensives||7 June 1931||Harold Chalton Bradshaw||Leopold, Prince of Belgium|
|Vimy Memorial||France||Vimy||11,169||Canada||entire war, especially April 1917||several battles, especially the Battle of Vimy Ridge||26 July 1936||Walter Seymour Allward||Edward VIII|
|Villers-Bretonneux Memorial||France||Villers-Bretonneux||10,773||Australia||entire war, especially April 1918||several battles, especially the Second Battle of Villers-Bretonneux||22 July 1938||Edwin Lutyens||King George VI|
|Vis-en-Artois Memorial||France||Vis-en-Artois||9,843||United Kingdom and South Africa||8 August 1918 to 11 November 1918||Advance to Victory||4 August 1930||John Reginald Truelove||Rt. Hon. Thomas Shaw|
|Cambrai Memorial||picture||France||Cambrai||7,056||United Kingdom and South Africa||November and December 1917||Battle of Cambrai||4 August 1930||Harold Chalton Bradshaw||Lieutenant-General Sir Louis Vaughan|
|Neuve-Chapelle Memorial||France||Neuve-Chapelle||4,742||India||entire war||several battles||7 October 1927||Herbert Baker||Earl of Birkenhead|
|Soissons Memorial||France||Soissons||3,887||United Kingdom||May 1918 to August 1918||Third Battle of the Aisne and Second Battle of the Marne||22 July 1928||Gordon H. Holt and Verner Owen Rees||Sir Alexander Hamilton-Gordon|
|La Ferté-sous-Jouarre memorial||France||La Ferté-sous-Jouarre||3,743||United Kingdom||August 1914 to October 1914||Battle of Mons, First Battle of the Marne and the aftermaths||4 November 1928||George Hartley Goldsmith||Sir William Pulteney Pulteney|
|Fromelles Memorial||France||Fromelles||1,296||Australia||July 1916||Battle of Fromelles||not specified||Herbert Baker||not specified|
|Longueval Memorial||France||Longueval||1,205||New Zealand||July 1916 to November 1916||Battle of the Somme||not specified||Herbert Baker||not specified|
|Arras Flying Services Memorial||France||Arras||991||Airmen of the RNAS, the RFC, and the RAF||entire war||aerial missions||31 July 1932||Edwin Lutyens||Lord Trenchard|
|Messines Ridge Memorial||Belgium||Messines||827||New Zealand||1917 and 1918||Battle of Messines||not specified||Charles Holden||not specified|
|Beaumont-Hamel Memorial||France||Beaumont-Hamel||814||Dominion of Newfoundland||entire war, especially 1 July 1916||entire war, especially Battle of the Somme||7 June 1925||Basil Gotto||Earl Haig|
|Nieuport Memorial||Belgium||Nieuport||547||United Kingdom||1914 and July 1917||Siege of Antwerp and gas attacks at Nieuport||1 July 1928||William Bryce Binnie||Sir George Macdonogh|
|Grevillers Memorial||picture||France||Grévillers||446||New Zealand||21 March 1918 to 11 November 1918||Spring Offensive and the Advance to Victory||not specified||Edwin Lutyens||not specified|
|Polygon Wood Memorial||Belgium||Zonnebeke||378||New Zealand||September 1917 to May 1918||trench deaths in the Ypres Salient and the Battle of Polygon Wood||not specified||Charles Holden||not specified|
|Cite Bonjean Memorial||France||Armentières||47||New Zealand||mostly 1918||battles around Armentières, including the Spring Offensive||not specified||Herbert Baker||not specified|
|Noyelles-sur-Mer Memorial||France||Noyelles-sur-Mer||41||Chinese Labour Corps||1917 and 1918||Labour support behind the frontline||not specified||Edwin Lutyens||not specified|
|Marfaux Memorial||France||Marfaux||10||New Zealand Cyclist Battalion||July 1918||town lost and retaken during the Spring Offensive||not specified||N/A||not specified|
|Zeebrugge Memorial||Belgium||Zeebrugge||4||three officers and one mechanic of the Royal Navy||23 April 1918||Zeebrugge Raid||not specified||N/A||not specified|
|Delville Wood Memorial||France||Longueval||none||South Africa||entire war||Battle of Delville Wood||10 October 1926||Herbert Baker||widow of Louis Botha|
The total number of names inscribed on the memorials listed here, according to the CWGC figures given above, is 314,176.
Some memorials were organised by nation, rather than by battlefield. United Kingdom and South African forces are named on the memorials designated for the areas where they fell. The South African national memorial at Delville Wood has no names inscribed on it, as the names are listed on the battlefield memorials instead. The other Commonwealth nations have national memorials dedicated to their missing who fell on the Western Front: the Neuve-Chapelle Memorial to the forces of India; the Vimy Memorial to the forces of Canada and the Beaumont-Hamel Memorial to the forces of Newfoundland; the Villers-Brettonneux Memorial to the forces of Australia; and the Messines Ridge Memorial to the forces of New Zealand (the latter is one of seven memorials on the Western Front dedicated to New Zealanders). The missing war dead of Ireland, at the time of the war still part of the United Kingdom, are numbered among the UK forces (as were English, Scottish and Welsh troops) and listed with them on the memorials. The main memorials to the Irish war dead, both in Belgium, are the Ulster Tower and the Island of Ireland Peace Park, unveiled in 1921 and 1998 respectively.
- Delville Wood Memorial (South Africa)
- Vimy Memorial (Canada)
- Villers-Bretonneux Memorial (Australia)
- Neuve-Chapelle Memorial (India)
- Beaumont-Hamel Memorial (Newfoundland)
- Messines Ridge Memorial (New Zealand)
- List of Commonwealth War Graves Commission World War II memorials to the missing
- Canadian First World War Memorials In Europe (template listing)
- Some of those named on memorials to the missing will have been buried as "unknowns", with a gravestone marked "Known Unto God", but the bodies of many of those commemorated on these memorials were never recovered, could not be recovered, or no remains were left to be recovered.
- In addition to the main memorials to the missing, there are numerous individual memorials to missing soldiers, or small groups of soldiers, known to be buried in particular cemeteries, but where the exact identity of the bodies was not known. Sometimes nothing more than the nationality or rank of the soldier could be identified, and this information would be inscribed on the memorial in the absence of a name. Those memorials are not listed here.
- "In all too many cases, alas, those who fall upon the field of battle, fall in some part of the field where no friend can reach them alive. The burial parties, which work wherever it is possible, often in danger, cannot reach them under the machine guns of the enemy. Months afterwards, sometimes years, the battle rolls beyond that place, and these poor forms are dealt with as tenderly as the time and place allow ... too often there is left no trace or clue as to the soldier's name. Private or officer, he lies there, 'An Unknown Soldier'. – Where the Australians Rest, Department of Defence, Melbourne, 1920" Memorials to the Missing of WW1 and WW2, accessed 29 December 2009
- "Around 300,000 soldiers are remembered on memorials to the missing in France & Belgium. These are men who were killed in action but have no known grave. The largest of these is the Thiepval Memorial to the missing which commemorates over 70,000 officers and men who were lost on the Somme." Commonwealth War Graves Commission Memorials To The Missing, accessed 29 December 2009
- Prince Edward, then the heir to the throne, had served in the army during World War I. Four years after this unveiling, he became King Edward VIII of the United Kingdom, abdicating later the same year in 1936. Also present was Albert Lebrun, the President of France.
- Herbert Plumer was one of the generals commanding the British Second Army during World War I.
- Dyett was an Australian veteran of the Gallipoli campaigns, and the founder and President of the Returned Services League 1919 to 1946.
- Hugh Trenchard served as the commander of Royal Flying Corps in France from 1915 to 1917. In 1918, he briefly served as the first Chief of the Air Staff before taking up command of the Independent Air Force in France. At the time of the unveiling, he was a Marshal of the Royal Air Force.
- "who fell in the area from the River Lys to the old southern boundary of the First Army, east and west of Grenay"
- Macready served as Adjutant-General of the British Expeditionary Force from the outbreak of the war to February 1916, and then served as Adjutant-General to the Forces until a few months before the end of the war.
- Smith-Dorrien had served as a general commanding the British II Corps and the British Second Army during World War I.
- "the area enclosed on the North by the river Lys and a line drawn from Estaires to Fournes, and on the South by the old Southern boundary of the First Army about Grenay"
- William Tyrrell was a diplomat, serving at the time of the unveiling as British Ambassador to France.
- "the area from the line Caestre-Dranoutre-Warneton to the north, to Haverskerque-Estaires-Fournes to the south, including the towns of Hazebrouck, Merville, Bailleul and Armentieres, the Forest of Nieppe, and Ploegsteert Wood"
- Officially titled the Duke of Brabant at the unveiling, Crown Prince Leopold had fought as a private during World War I with the 12th Belgian Regiment while still a teenager. He became King Leopold III of Belgium in 1934.
- Crowned Edward VIII of the United Kingdom a few months earlier, in January 1936, Edward abdicated later the same year, in December 1936. This unveiling was one of the few official duties he carried out as King. He had served in the army during World War I.
- In his youth, King George (born Albert) served as a turret officer in World War I aboard HMS Collingwood during the Battle of Jutland in 1916. Following ill-health, he then served at the Royal Naval Air Service's training establishment (later the RAF), and later served on the staff of the Independent Air Force in France in the closing months of the war. This memorial was one of the last to be unveiled before the outbreak of the Second World War, just over a year later.
- described as "in Picardy and Artois, between the Somme and Loos"
- Shaw, a Labour Party MP and cabinet minister, was present in his role as British Secretary of State for War. Also present was General Walter Braithwaite, who had served in the Mediterranean and on the Western Front during the war.
- Louis Ridley Vaughan was chief of staff to General Sir Julian Byng, commander of the Third Army from May 1917 until the end of the war (this army fought at the Battle of Cambrai), and was Byng's representative at the unveiling of this memorial.
- Earl Birkenhead (Frederick Edwin Smith) served in France in World War I from 1914 to 1915 as a staff officer with the Indian Corps, and later co-wrote an official history titled The Indian Corps in France (1917, revised edition 1919).
- Hamilton-Gordon was a general in World War I, commanding IX Corps from 1916 as they fought at the Battle of Messines and the Third Battle of the Aisne.
- Other battles associated with this memorial were the Retreat from Mons, the Battle of Le Cateau, and the First Battle of the Aisne.
- Pulteney was a general in World War I, serving for most of the war, from 5 August 1914 to 19 February 1918, as commander of the British III Corps.
- Douglas Haig was the general in overall command of British forces from December 1915 until the end of the war.
- Macdonogh was a staff officer and general for the Directorate of Military Intelligence for most of the war, being appointed Adjutant-General to the Forces in September 1918. He later became a commissioner for the Imperial War Graves Commission.
- Noyelles-sur-Mer Chinese Cemetery, Commonwealth War Graves Commission, accessed 13 February 2010. Lutyens designed the cemetery within which the memorial stands, but the designer of the memorial is not specified.
- Botha, who had been Prime Minister of South Africa during the war, had died in 1919.
- Description of the national memorials and practices of listing the missing from Commonwealth nations on the Western Front, accessed 29 December 2009
- New Zealand and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission: First World War memorials to the missing, accessed 29 December 2009
- New Zealand Memorial, 's Graventafel, accessed 29 December 2009
- Memorials to the Missing – Commemorating Australian war dead, accessed 29 December 2009
- World War I memorials to the missing (www.britishwargraves.co.uk)
- World War I memorials to the missing (www.worldwar1.nl)
- World War I memorials to the missing (www.malvernremembers.org.uk)
- World War I memorials to the missing (www.remembering.org.uk)
- Animation of Commonwealth war casualties during World War I (www.geo-animate.com)