Posted by: madkentdragon | September 22, 2010

War Graves, Wreaths, Remembrance & the Royal British Legion

The heart wrenching sight of the fallen coming back to their loved ones is now unfortunately a common sight. But did you know that this is only a recent occurrence and that up to, and including, the Falklands War; most service personnel were buried on the battle field or near to where a field hospital was set up?

These war cemeteries, so beautifully looked after by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission are a poignant sight as you travel through the country-side in Europe, North Africa, India and the East. Pilgrimages, whether in groups or singly often visit to pay tribute and to plant a cross or lay a wreath; but what happens when you can’t get there to lay a wreath on Great Uncle Bob’s grave for his birthday or for Remembrance Sunday? Or to lay a wreath the other side of the world in the Falklands?

That’s where a service called The Overseas Wreath Laying Service, organised by the RBL and the CWGC and sometimes Embassies comes in to help. Wreaths are laid on your behalf at any time of the year in most cemeteries through out the world, although in dangerous areas this may only be possible at Remembrance. One example of this was when two relatives requested a tribute to be laid in Libya during the problems there and the British Ambassador accompanied by armed guards did this for the relatives and kindly sent photos and letters to be forwarded on to the relatives.

How does the Legion do this? Simple really, each year hundreds of all types of wreaths are sent out to most European CWGC centres and to Thailand, but only sprays of Poppies can be used in India! The Falklands memorials and graves are administered by the Army who prefer a simple circular wreath; and when requests are sent in, the Legion sends a request plus a black edged card inscribed by the relative to thee appropriate cemetery and the wreath is laid and a photo can be taken if requested.

Holland runs its own Remembrance group to lay the wreaths, which roughly translated means “Honour the Heroes” and they take pride in not only laying the wreaths but ensure no war grave is forgotten by arranging for school children to lay fresh flowers on every grave, usually in May.

There is a list of approximately 500 relatives who regularly arrange for this to be done and the cost? The price of the wreath, everything else is covered by the Legion and the CWGC, although most people do donate more than the cost.

To find out more write to The RBL Poppy Appeal, RBL Village, Aylesford, Kent ME20 7NX.

The Royal British Legion never forgets.



  1. The work of the RBL and the CWGC is all so evident in the part of Northern Germany where we are stationed (not far from the infamous Bergen/Belson Concentration Camp) The Cemetry nr Becklingen can be seen from the road heading towards Celle. No matter what time of year it is always beautifully kept, a fitting place where the brave may rest in peace so far from loved ones. They are not forgotten and it is a tribute to the CWGC that they are so beautifully kept by the German gardeners who so lovingly tend to grounds ensuring that each grave is always looking it’s best as well as the grounds which always look so neat. Long may they continue their work.

  2. My uncle died in the he black watch in 1945 buried in Germany I would like a wreath put on his grave please Elizabeth cole

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