Care for War Graves | Rectory Lane Cemetery, Berkhamsted

Rectory Lane Cemetery, Berkhamsted

Care for War Graves

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The Commonwealth War Graves’ Eyes On, Hands On Project has been set up to help monitor the graves of the fallen scattered within the United Kingdom. These mark the final resting place of those who died in the UK during or as the result of their war service and are found in some 12,500 locations, ranging from large cemeteries to isolated country churchyards. Causes of death of those buried in the UK typically include wounds, illness – including influenza, and accidents while on home service. Those commemorated in these locations may have either an easily recognised Commonwealth War Grave headstone, or a private memorial or, occasionally, both.

This project, sponsored by Annington Homes, divides the UK into regions, each with a Project Co-ordinator who trains and guides the work of a team of volunteers. Hertfordshire falls in the East 2 region. Volunteers are then allocated sites near their homes, which they visit every 6 to 8 months for the “Eyes On” part of the project, which involves photographing, assessing and reporting back on the state of each headstone listed. Some, like those in Rectory Lane, are in well-tended cemeteries or churchyards; others may be overgrown to the point of inaccessibility. Volunteers’ photos and online reports are considered by their Project Co-ordinator, who advises on any necessary further work. This may include the volunteers’ “Hands On” task of clearing and cleaning some CWG headstones. Hands On volunteers in the cemetery are easily identified by their yellow high-vis vests. For private memorials, the volunteers’ only task is to check that the casualty’s name is still legible; clearing or cleaning private memorials is outside the scope of the project. Volunteers are also encouraged to find out more about those whose graves they are visiting and the Rectory Lane website is a most helpful source for this cemetery.

Rectory Lane Cemetery war graves

27 of the graves in Rectory Lane Cemetery, known to CWGC as “Great Berkhamsted (St. Peter) Church Cemetery” are being monitored as part of the Eyes On, Hands On project. Their graves mark the final resting place of men who fell during or as a result of service during the First and Second World Wars – 14 from the First World War and 13 from the Second.

Seven First World War graves have a CWG headstone while the remaining 7 have private memorials. Those being monitored which have private memorials are:

  • Geoffrey Wynne Bavin
  • Reginald Charles Elliott (who served as Reginald Charles Newell)
  • Ernest Evans
  • Cyril Leggett
  • Sydney Eric Pike
  • Leonard Simpson
  • Charles Wood – who died on Armistice Day 1918 of pneumonia following influenza.

Of the Second World War fallen, all but one, Maurice Alex Bunn, have CWG headstones.

Those with private memorials are typically buried with other members of their families. Learning more about the fallen commemorated in this cemetery is a very interesting part of the Eyes On, Hands On project.


Find out about CWGC volunteering opportunities on the CWGC website

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