WW1 & WW2 War Graves

Cross of Sacrifice.jpg

WW2 Garden of Remembrance

WW1 Cross of Sacrifice

Tunbridge Wells Cemetery War Graves


Within the Tunbridge Wells Cemetery there are war graves from the two world wars. At the two entrances, green plaques have been placed by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) to signify War Graves exist within the Cemetery. In the lower half of the Cemetery, two Crosses of Sacrifice (CoS) are maintained by the CWGC, which indicate in both world wars more than 40 war graves are situated nearby.


At the outbreak of WW1, no planning or preparations had been made about where or how to bury the deceased service personnel arising from the conflict. A view across the Cemetery from the WW1 CoS clearly shows, the random nature of the burials alongside those of ordinary citizens.


The Tunbridge Wells Corporation (TWC) was not alone as a local authority in deciding not to have a reserved section for war graves.


At the time of WW1, the cost of a burial was for the family of the deceased alone to deal with. A person, including servicemen who did not have a family, was buried by the TWC as paupers in common graves.


In section C14, not far from the WW1 Cross of Sacrifice, a number of soldiers are buried in common graves. A CWGC Headstone marks where they are buried but within the grave itself are also other people who were buried at public expense.


Indeed, shocking to us today, in one grave there are six people buried, one of whom was a very young child.


In total, 73 WW1 servicemen from Great Britain, Canada, Australia, South Africa and the United States of America lie in the Tunbridge Wells Cemetery. The majority of graves have a CWGC Headstone but the others are commemorated on local families headstones.


In other towns that had VAD’s to care for wounded Soldiers and Sailors, the local population insisted all military burials should be made together, whether they had a burial at public expense or by a family. Hastings Cemetery has such a WW1 Section due to the efforts of a band of very strong willed activist women. There was no such pressure put upon the Tunbridge Wells Corporation in 1914 by local residents.


When War threatened again in mid 1938, the IWGC instructed all local authorities with Government support to make plans for segregated sections to be planned in their cemeteries, into which all future war dead would be buried at public expense.


All war dead would be placed in a single grave with no other deceased person. All War dead would have an IWGC Headstone placed upon the Grave unless the family declined to have one.


In the Tunbridge Wells Garden of Remembrance every grave has a Portland Stone Headstone. There are a few graves in the sections close to the Cemetery Chapels who were buried into family graves and are commemorated on the family headstone.


The CWGC have taken on the responsibility of maintaining these family headstones when they have been notified no family of the deceased now exists.


The full details of all the War Graves in the TW Cemetery can be found in the two publications published by the Friends of Tunbridge Wells Cemetery.


‘Remembered’ listing all the War Dead of WW1 and ‘Remembered Two’ listing the War Dead of WW2.


Both books are priced at £7.50 to include P&P and can be purchased through the Publications section of this website


Peter W Blackwell JP DL


March 2022