Tom Brake MP urges schools to visit local Commonwealth war graves.

Tom Brake, MP for Carshalton and Wallington, is urging local schools 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.  His call comes after he visited on Friday the grave, in Bandon Hill cemetery, of local hero Lionel Beach DSO (Captain). Captain Beach’s details can be found on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (www.cwgc.org) website.

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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. The initiative is supported by Tom, who visited the Commonwealth War Graves at Bandon Hill Cemetery on Friday.

“The Centenary of the outbreak of the First World War is a time, not just for reflection and commemoration but also an opportunity to educate a new generation of young people about the extraordinary events of a hundred years ago and to bring to life some of the personal stories from this remarkable time,” said Tom.   

“Working with local groups and students gives us all an opportunity to explore how we would like to secure this legacy for generations to come.  Visiting the graves of the fallen is a simple but profoundly important way to commemorate the outbreak of the 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.

The CWGC have 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.

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