CWGC Headstones - Does the type of cross signify anything?

#1
Hi

I've often wondered if the different type of cross on CWGC headstones means anything? Some have the regimental crest engraved within the cross, others have a smaller cross.

I'm sure some ARRSE guru will know!

Thanks :D
 
#2
I belive that the size of the cross is different only to accomodate different badges (but not absolutely sure). I have read that the shape of the top of the stone changes depending on whether the stone was privately purchased which was possible after the Great War. For the real experts try the Great War Forum:

Great War Forum
 
#3
flamingo said:
Hi

I've often wondered if the different type of cross on CWGC headstones means anything? Some have the regimental crest engraved within the cross, others have a smaller cross.

I'm sure some ARRSE guru will know!

Thanks :D
From what I remember that decision was down to deceased relatives, as to how they wanted the grave stones.
 
#4
easesprings said:
flamingo said:
Hi

I've often wondered if the different type of cross on CWGC headstones means anything? Some have the regimental crest engraved within the cross, others have a smaller cross.

I'm sure some ARRSE guru will know!

Thanks :D
From what I remember that decision was down to deceased relatives, as to how they wanted the grave stones.
Edited to add. Yes the purchase thing is ringing a bell. Trying to load up the CWGC www site but it isnt playing for some reason. Might be something to do with 11 Nov
 
#5
Thanks for that, I tried the CWGC site but could not find anything about it.
 
#6
#8
All this info is available on their excellent website - try the magazine archive under the "News & Events" section and look for the article on "Features of Commonwealth war cemeteries"

All stones are the same shape. This is one of their founding principles.

Where the individual's identity was known the relatives were asked after WW1 & WW2 what religious symbol (if any) they would like and if they wanted to choose wording for an inscription at the bottom of the headstone. Some chose to have the Regimental badge at the top above the religious symbol and some had it placed within a larger version of the symbol.

Obviously not everyone replied or was contactable and so for some casualties only the officially provided info is recorded. This seems to be the smaller version of the symbol with the badge above it.

If the individual's identity was not known then there might or might not be a Regimental badge on the stone depending on whether their unit could be identified or not.

If the individual's Unit could not be identified either then there is simply a cross on the stone.

The above-mentioned article has a photo that clearly shows examples of all these types both with a badge placed inside the cross and with the badge placed above the cross (for named casualties) and examples of un-named casualties both with and without regimental badges.

Edited to add link to the Magazine Archive HERE
 
#9
scaryspice said:
All this info is available on their excellent website - try the magazine archive under the "News & Events" section and look for the article on "Features of Commonwealth war cemeteries"

All stones are the same shape. This is one of their founding principles.

Where the individual's identity was known the relatives were asked after WW1 & WW2 what religious symbol (if any) they would like and if they wanted to choose wording for an inscription at the bottom of the headstone. Some chose to have the Regimental badge at the top above the religious symbol and some had it placed within a larger version of the symbol.

Obviously not everyone replied or was contactable and so for some casualties only the officially provided info is recorded. This seems to be the smaller version of the symbol with the badge above it.

If the individual's identity was not known then there might or might not be a Regimental badge on the stone depending on whether their unit could be identified or not.

If the individual's Unit could not be identified either then there is simply a cross on the stone.

The above-mentioned article has a photo that clearly shows examples of all these types both with a badge placed inside the cross and with the badge placed above the cross (for named casualties) and examples of un-named casualties both with and without regimental badges.

Edited to add link to the Magazine Archive HERE
Just edited my last post cheers for that
 
#10
scaryspice said:
Where the individual's identity was known the relatives were asked after WW1 & WW2 what religious symbol (if any) they would like and if they wanted to choose wording for an inscription at the bottom of the headstone. Some chose to have the Regimental badge at the top above the religious symbol and some had it placed within a larger version of the symbol.
Perhaps I am beign thick buit where exactly does it say on the CWGC website that the relatives could choose whether the crest was inside a large cross or above a small one? I cant find the words in bold on the site.

If relatives did choose the style of cross they seem to have displayed some unlikely consistency as the style of cross seems to be a regimental rather than family choice...
 
#11
joe90x said:
I believe the Navy use a different (Broad) Cross to the other services that may have ships crest included within
The impression I got whilst looking around Brookwood mil cemetary recently was that RN graves tended to have an anchor and chain device on them.

Am I correct in suggesting that VC winners etc have an image of the medal engraved on their grave?
 
#12
Dragstrip said:
The impression I got whilst looking around Brookwood mil cemetary recently was that RN graves tended to have an anchor and chain device on them.

Am I correct in suggesting that VC winners etc have an image of the medal engraved on their grave?
Correct on both counts.

Here is a link to a picture of an RN grave from HJMS Vindictive - note the small cross

http://flickr.com/photos/philbr/3022935438/

Here is a picture of a VC headstone in Tyne Cot Cemetery

 
#13
I've always wondered about the shape of the headstone.

I've seen the standard convex topped type, convex with the top corners cut out, angled top and I'm sure different shapes for Jewish soldiers.

The cut out corners and the angled top type I was told were non CWGC headstones and were just military graves not from war action. Could be wrong on that one though.
 
#14
Might not be, I can see the grave of one of the lads killed in the training accident with the Puma from my window his headstone has the corners cut out like you say
 
#15
flamingo said:
Hi

I've often wondered if the different type of cross on CWGC headstones means anything? Some have the regimental crest engraved within the cross, others have a smaller cross.

I'm sure some ARRSE guru will know!

Thanks :D
If you are really interested then read NOT FORGOTTEN by "Neil Oliver".

http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/0340898720/?tag=armrumser-21

A fascinating book. Before I read it I was under the impression that the war memorials where a government idea.

Oh, it probably wont answer your particular question, but you should find it interesting.
 
#16
Pteranadon said:
scaryspice said:
Where the individual's identity was known the relatives were asked after WW1 & WW2 what religious symbol (if any) they would like and if they wanted to choose wording for an inscription at the bottom of the headstone. Some chose to have the Regimental badge at the top above the religious symbol and some had it placed within a larger version of the symbol.
Perhaps I am beign thick buit where exactly does it say on the CWGC website that the relatives could choose whether the crest was inside a large cross or above a small one? I cant find the words in bold on the site.

If relatives did choose the style of cross they seem to have displayed some unlikely consistency as the style of cross seems to be a regimental rather than family choice...
It doesn't say this specifically (I didn't quote directly from the site as I don't want to infirnge their copyright) but it does say that the relatives were asked what detail they wanted in addition to the "official" detail and this seems (from observation of graves) to have included the option for a larger version of the religious symbol (note it's not always a cross!) with the badge set inside it. The graves I've seen for unknown soldiers have the standard version (badge above symbol) which is why I have made this assumption. I don't believe the relatives had that wide a choice - probably a standard design of symbol with the badge either inset or above. Hence the "regimental style" of the cross, which is set by the CWGC.

"Different shapes for Jewish soldiers" - are you sure this isn't in a US war cemetery? They do have different shaped headstones for different religious denominations.

The CWGC site says they have a standard headstone - I was simply going by that. Brettarider - this isn't a CWGC cemetery you're looking at is it?
 

seaweed

LE
Book Reviewer
#17
I seem to remember from forty years ago that the CWGC cemetery in Yokohama has, not headstones, but bronze plaques with name, regimetal badge etc laid flat on the ground. Don't know why, but it all looked equally dignified and peaceful (used to be the form that on any RN ship visit abraod an officer was sent to report on the local CWGC cemetery, if there was one). As for Jews, I think the CWGC form with headstones is same-shaped stone but Star of David instead of cross, otherwise as for all the others. Seems appropriate and the right thing. Also, not all stones are in CWGC cemeteries, the same can be found dotted about many country churchyards in England, each telling the same sad story (particularly when you read the age).
 
#19
I was told by a guide on a WW1 tour many years ago that the foreunner of the CWGC - the Imperial War Graves Commission - contacted all regiments and enquired what form the regimental badge should be. Whilst most elected to have the normal cap badge on the headstone some regiments opted for the regimental 'crest' - for example the Royal Fusiliers(City of London Regiment).

The Dominions had other national symbols such as the Fern Leaf of New Zealand, the Canadian Maple Leaf, the Caribou of the Newfoundlanders and the South African Springbok whilst Australian troops have the Australian Army Corps badge that looks like a sunrise but is in fact a 'trophy of arms'.

Relatives could add an inscription to the headstone at a cost of threepence ha'penny per letter and Rudyard Kipling coined the phrase 'Known Unto God' for those soldiers who were unable to be identified.

With regard to the large cross our guide said that the Royal Artillery graves have the RA cap badge set within a large cross to signify that more gunners were killed than any other regiment in the Great War - over 49,000.

I read last weekend, that the CWGC have announced a program to restore all 800,000 headstones and the 500, 000 memorial inscriptions that will take 28 years to complete!
 

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