Fallen military service members remembered in England

World Today

In England, the worldwide Commonwealth Graves Commission tends the graves of nearly 2 million service members who were killed from World War I onwards.

CGTN’s Richard Bestic has more.

In the English countryside not too far from the U.K. capital, thousands of the dead from two world wars are remembered with a deep respect.

It is a scene replicated at 23,000 locations across the globe. From the jungles of Burma to the manicured lawns of the English Home Counties, there are places like this in 150 countries worldwide.

“I think for communities around the world, the war dead have often shaped the way they see themselves,” Glyn Prysor, chief historian at Commonwealth Graves Commission said. “They’ve served as not just a lesson, but the legacy has meant that people have reflected on their own lives and their own values and that’s still very powerful today.”

The Commonwealth Graves Commission emerged from the carnage of the First World War. Millions around the world lost their lives in what was history’s first industrial war.

From the battle of the Somme, in which half a million were killed, the commission’s cemeteries trace out the battle lines. The men were buried near where they fell.

The War Graves Commission makes it a point of honor that there’s no distinction between rank, religion, or even nationality.

Caring for this vast enterprise requires a staff of 1,800 all around the world, reflecting the diversity of those drawn into conflict.

In Hong Kong, the Chinese Labour Corps is among those remembered and respected.

“Members of the Chinese Labour Corps played an incredibly important role in supporting the military forces,” Prysor said. “So because of this diversity, that’s another reason why the war graves commission was so adamant that people should be honored in the same way.”

It means a lieutenant colonel lies alongside men of all ranks with the same stone in the same field.