War grave

War grave

A war grave is a place where war dead are buried. It may contain either a combatant or a civilian. Although the victim does not need to die directly from enemy action, the main reason for calling a grave a war grave is that the death occurred as a result of active service by the victim or by military operations. For example, in the Crimean War more troops died of disease than as a result of enemy action. Another example is site of the sunken HMHS Britannic, a hospital ship in the First World War.

A common difference between cemeteries of war graves and those of civilian, peacetime graves is the uniformity of those interred. They generally died during a relatively short period, in a small geographic area and consist of young men often from the few military units involved.

In the United Kingdom, 58 ship wrecks and all underwater military aircraft are protected under the Protection of Military Remains Act 1986 which imposes restrictions on their exploration and marine salvage.

Rupert Brooke's poem, The Soldier - "If I should die, think only this of me: / That there's some corner of a foreign field / That is for ever England", is a patriotic poem about the possibility of dying abroad during a war. Brooke is himself buried in a war grave on Skyros in the Aegean Sea, having died whilst en route to fight in the Gallipoli Campaign.

The British War Memorial Project, founded in 2001, aims to create an archive of names and photographs of all Commonwealth military graves and memorials from 1914 to the present day.

See also


  • Major and Mrs Holt's battlefield guide to the Ypres Salient ISBN 0-85052-551-9
  • SI 2008/950 The Protection of Military Remains Act 1986 Order no 2008/950

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