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Debt of Honour Register - Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Nature of Source

The Debt of Honour Register records and commemorates the names of some 1.7 million men and women from all three services killed in the two world wars and others who died up to 31 December 1947. The register is produced by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) which cares for military cemeteries worldwide. The Resister also includes merchant sailors as well as civilian casualties from WWII, known as the Civilian Roll of Honour. The Discover 14-18 microsite is designed to enable the public to visit the CWGC memorial sites more easily and enhance their understanding of the historical context of the cemeteries and memorials. The site features a timeline and events calendar for WW1 and content themed around major battles and the different roles of the Army, Navy and Air Force, all linking back to the CWGC memorial sites and the online archives.

The records also cover British, Irish and Commonwealth casualties from the Second World War as well as details of the 67,000 Commonwealth civilians who died ‘as a result of enemy action’ in the Second World War. Details include personal headstone inscriptions, date of death, rank, regiment and even some documents which show the journey of the deceased to their final resting place.

Details about death in service and the burial places of soldiers who died outside the dates covered by the CWGC are held by the MoD. The Armed Forces Memorial Roll of Honour which starts from 1 January 1948 can be searched here. The service number from the cemetery record will assist in locating the person's military service records.

Each person commemorated in the casualty database has links to items in the CWGC Archive Online. The Archive has original digitised documents including Grave Registration Reports (GRRs) which provide basic details of the individuals, such as name, service number, rank, regiment, unit and date of death, and are listed in Plot, Row and Grave order as well as Headstone Schedules which provide details of what was actually inscribed on an individual’s headstone.

An alternative search engine covering the Debt of Honour Register database offering enhanced search facilities can be found at Geoff's Search Engine.

Also see The War Graves Photographic Project at which aims to provide images of the graves or memorial listings of every service casualty since the outbreak of the First World War.

The website Commonwealth Cemeteries of World War I has produced a set of resources to plot Commonwealth cemeteries, burial plots and memorials in the UK and across the globe. The map shows Commonwealth cemeteries, memorials and other locations worldwide represented by pins. Users can download files for the counties and then open them in Google Earth or view the individual sites on a Google Map with links through to the entry on the CWGC cemetery database.

Useful publications include:
Corke, Jim. War Memorials in Britain: Shire Publications, 2005
Summers, Julie & Harris, Brian. Remembered: The History of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission: Merrell Publishers, 2007
Summers, Julie. British and Commonwealth War Cemeteries: Shire Library, 2010

Also see
War Memorials, Graves & Rolls of Honour (Military, including WWI) Including Scotland

Where Found

Period Covered

1914 - 1947

Genealogical Value

Rank, full name unit, regiment, service number, age, date of death, next of kin, grave or memorial reference and the name of the cemetery or memorial.

Online Databases