The Commonwealth War Graves Commission

(For corrections submitted to the CWGC see the bottom of this page.)

The grave of Signalman K Smith GC

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission commemorates those killed during the First and Second World Wars. In addition, under contract to the Ministry of Defence it maintains many other graves and small cemeteries around the world that contain the remains of casualties of other conflicts and some of those who died abroad in peacetime.

For the purposes of commemoration the period of the First World War is defined as 4 August 1914 to 31 August 1921. Although the Armistice came into effect on 11 November 1918, the Termination of the Present War (Definition) Act 1918 gave discretion to His Majesty in Council to declare the date of the termination of the war. In the years that followed, peace treaties were signed with each of the Central Powers and, although a treaty with Turkey had yet to be ratified, it was declared that 31 August 1921 ‘should be treated as the date of the termination of the present War’. In consequence, the CWGC commemorates 28 casualties who died after 28 June 1920 and who are recorded as Royal Signals. While most were victims of disease, accident or misadventure (and, in one case, executed for murder), four were operational casualties from Iraq and Ireland.

The complexity of the transfer of personnel in the early years of Royal Signals seen in the publication of awards to men of the Royal Engineers serving with various signal units in India and the Middle East is also seen in the record of commemorations. No fewer than a further 28 Royal Engineers all ranks serving in signal units are recorded as First World War casualties after June 1920. This should be considered a minimum number. They too include four operational casualties serving with the Indian Signal Corps in Waziristan.

Similarly, for the purposes of commemoration the period of the Second World War is defined as 3 September 1939 to 31 December 1947. The latter date was selected to be approximately the same length of time after the date of Victory in Europe Day (VE Day, 8 May 1945) as 31 August 1921 was after the Armistice. The CWGC commemorates 5,111 Royal Signals personnel in that period, of whom 595 died after Victory over Japan Day (VJ Day, 15 August 1945).[1] Some of these later casualties died as a result of service during the war or the effects of their incarceration as prisoners of war, and some died in other conflicts, for example in post-war Mandatory Palestine. Most, however, died as a consequence of disease, accident or misadventure.

This is a summary of the errors acknowledged by the CWGC as a October 2021. Details have been noted in the file of the individual casualty and changes made to the online commemoration. The CWGC has a particular way in which unit names are abbreviated; changes to units names (additions, corrections, or to achieve uniformity) use the CWGC system. For example, 6th Independent Infantry Brigade Group Signal Section is recorded as ‘6th Indep. Inf. Bde. Gp. Sig. Sec’.

1. (Back) In addition, also commemorated as Royal Signals are 14 locally enlisted personnel from Cyprus, Iraq, Palestine, Singapore, and Southern Rhodesia.