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The Unending Vigil (Paperback)

WWII Reference WWI Military

By Philip Longworth
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
Pages: 304
ISBN: 9781848844230
Published: 10th November 2010
Last Released: 15th May 2020



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One million, one hundred thousand men and women lost their lives in the service of the British Empire during the First World War; in the Second, another six hundred thousand from all parts of the Commonwealth made the same sacrifice.
The First World War, which began as a war between professional armies, was very soon to be fought by millions of ordinary citizens turned soldier. Those who died could no longer be "shovelled into a hole … and so forgotten" as had happened, to Thackeray’s indignation, at Waterloo, and in May 1917 a new organization, the Imperial War Graves Commission, was founded to provide permanent care for their graves and commemoration for the missing.

The Unending Vigil tells the story of the Commission – of its beginnings on the Western Front, with the efforts of one extraordinary man who conceived and directed it through to the conclusion of the Second World War, and of its work since then. Renamed in 1960 the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, its operations today extend over 140 countries.

On behalf of the Commission, outstanding architects, sculptors, engineers, horticulturalists and men of letters combined to design war cemeteries and memorials that would last for perhaps a thousand years. After both wars, and often against great odds and in appalling conditions, the staff of the Commission, and in many cases themselves comrades of the dead, laboured to fulfil those designs, turning scenes of desolation and horror into places of peace and haunting beauty. It was a task, Rudyard Kipling said, greater than that of the Pharaohs – "and they only worked in their own country". The Commission task was, and still is, world-wide.

Selling Points
* The world wide work of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission is hugely
respected for its achievements and efficiency.
* The CWGC has a large following.
* This book will fascinate all those many people who visit the battlefields.

Author details
Philip Longworth was born in London in 1933 and educated at Balliol College, Oxford. He has published a number of books, including The Art of Victory, The Three Emperors and more recently Alexis, Tsar of all the Russias. At present he lectures in the Department of History, McGill University, Montreal. He was made a Knight of Mark Twain for Art of Victory.

As referenced in.

Stand To! The Western Front Assc. No.105

IN MAY, 1917, King George V approved the establishment of a new organisation , the Imperial War Graves Commission, to provide permanent care for the graves of those who lost their lives in service and commemoration for the missing.
This book tells the story of the Commission - of its beginnings on the western front, Fabian Ware, who conceived and directed it through to the conclusion of WWII, and its work since then.


Philip Longworth takes a very detailed and well researched look at the history of the Imperial/Commonwealth War Graves Commission and the tireless work of Fabian Ware which led to the creation of a permanent memorial for the one million, seven hundred thousand men and women who lost their lives serving the Commonwealth and Empire.

The disgust of Thackory, at Waterloo, of those who had fallen simply being "shovelled into a hole... and so forgotten" and King George V's approval of the establishment of an Imperial War Graves Commission led to the formation of a British Red Cross unit being sent to France in 1914; and it is there that the tale begins.

This book will not help you to discover any ancestors but it will bring more than a tingle to your spine as you read the story of those who laboured, and labour, for our fallen.

East Yorkshire Family History Society
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