Commonwealth War Graves Commission launches digital initiatives to honour Canadian heroes
By the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC)
Just before Victory in Europe Day (VE Day), the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) launched innovative online tools to help Canadians learn more about, honour and pay respects to war dead from the First and Second World Wars.
Canadians can discover and pay tribute to those who served in the World Wars by participating in the Wall of Remembrance campaign, listening to the The 1.7 Million Stories of CWGC podcast series or browsing the new Enquiry Files archival records.
To maintain physical distancing, the CWGC has launched a Wall of Remembrance digital campaign, calling on the public to take part in an act of virtual remembrance. This innovative online space will allow Canadians to commemorate the 75th anniversary of VE Day by submitting a tribute or photo as part of the new initiative.
The public is encouraged to submit their tribute using #ShareYourTribute on social media, or upload on the CWGC website to honour the moment the most destructive conflict in European history finally came to an end.
“At this dark time, we want to give people a way to honour those brave men and women who gave their lives in the Second World War, creating this virtual Wall of Remembrance, so they can take part in VE Day. Whether it is a simple thank you, a picture or a few lines of text, we want to collect as many tributes as possible.” said Victoria Wallace, Director General for the CWGC.
Alongside the online Wall of Remembrance, the CWGC has launched a new podcast series called The 1.7 Million Stories of CWGC. The series explores some of the stories of those who lost their lives, the history of these wars and how the CWGC continues its work today.
Together with these campaigns, Canadians can also discover the Commission’s newly digitized Enquiry Files (E-Files): personal letters, pictures and documents sent between the Commission and the wives and parents of soldiers that reveal the anguish of the First World War as families sought answers about their loved ones.
Among the stories is that of George William Malcolm, a father who searched for eight years to find the grave of his son, Lt Alan Alexander Malcolm, as well as Capt Ralph Bell of the Canadian Expeditionary Force. Heartbreaking stories like these are now being made available to the public for the first time in generations thanks to the newly released archive material.
By digitizing and releasing these files over the course of the year, a new generation of researchers and students will be able to understand the impact of losing loved ones during the First World War, including that of Capt Bell who worked as journalist for The Globe newspaper in Toronto prior to joining the military.
“Stories like that of Capt Bell and Lt Malcolm reveal the struggle many families faced during the First World War to find answers about their loved ones. These important stories of grief honour the sacrifices made by our Canadian heroes and must continue to be shared with generations to come. We are pleased to be able to make this invaluable piece of World War history accessible to a new generation of Canadians” said David Loveridge, CWGC’s Area Director for Canada and the Americas Area.
The records are part of a collection of nearly 3,000 files which never been made available to the public before. Nearly half have been digitized so far, alongside a previously unreleased collection of more than 16,000 photographs held in negatives in the Commission’s archive.
To learn more about or add your tribute to the online Wall of Remembrance: https://www.cwgc.org/share-your-tribute.
To listen to The 1.7 Million Stories of CWGC podcast: https://anchor.fm/cwgc/episodes/EP1-Africa-ecmkg2/a-a1trep2
To discover the Commission’s new Enquiry Files: https://www.cwgc.org/history-and-archives/cwgc-archive/efiles.
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