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Commission’s signs point interested people in the direction of local war memorials

11:15 am, Tuesday, 7th November 2023 - 7 months ago


REMEMBRANCE Day is the time of year when we remember those that have fought for the safety of our country and the freedoms we are afforded today.

While there are many that quietly remember our heroes privately, there are those who seek to find a peaceful moment at a memorial, and there are thousands of national sites at which interested people can pay their respects to the fallen.

Avid family historians and supporters of the UK’s Forces are generally aware of places at which they can pay their respects, but public perception often focuses on a cenotaph, a public event, or a trip abroad to visit Commonwealth commemorations.  In North East Lincolnshire there are many memorials and churchyards where visitors can share a quiet moment.

Scores local men who fell at World War One battles, many of whom have personal commemorative plaques at Belgium’s Dud Corner, also have their names on the wall at Grimsby Minster.  At Cleethorpes’ Beacon Avenue Cemetery, there are 77 First World War burials, 80 from the Second World War, and a War Cross on the main drive.  Grimsby has 291 scattered burials of the First World War, many of them seamen who served with the Auxiliary Patrol which operated out of Grimsby, and 261 Second World War burials.  There are also 17 war burials of other nationalities in Scartho cemetery.

At Immingham’s St Andrew’s Church, national and international heroes have their final resting places tended to by local cadets.  There are 18 WW1 burials and five from WW2 here, including those of Able Seaman George William Woolgar and Leading Seaman Harold Henry Rigsby.  The two men were aboard the HMS Hardy when it was destroyed at Dogger Bank, in the Humber, in 1914.  This is unfortunately not an unusual tale given the region’s closeness to the North Sea, with scores of boats and ships attacked in the Humber Estuary during both world wars.

Following World War One centenary events in 2014, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) embarked upon a project to install signs in as many UK churchyards, cemeteries, and burial grounds as possible, to direct people to war graves and increase awareness of places people can pay their respects across the country.  Cleethorpes’ Beacon Avenue cemetery is now one of those to have its signs in situ, having been installed in time for this year’s Remembrance Day.

The initial CWGC project began with Church of England sites, with the Diocese of Lincoln having 236 church locations with war graves.  The CWGC was given permission to install signs at almost half of these places before the project moved on to local councils and other denomination locations.  In Lincolnshire overall, there are 86 CWGC sites, with signs already in place in Scartho Cemetery and, more recently, Beacon Avenue.

Signs are paid for and maintained by the commission on a permanent basis, in a bid to encourage interest in the fallen soldiers of war and their histories.  The CWGC project has encouraged a bigger conversation with local churches and councils, many of whom were unaware of the casualties in their burial grounds.

Daniel Intress-Franklin, Deputy Bereavement Services Manager at North East Lincolnshire Council, said: “We are pleased that signs have been installed to point the public to the historic graves in our cemeteries.  It is good to know that the fallen will not only be remembered across our region, but they can also now be found by a new generation of historians and interested people.”

For more information or to find a war memorial, visit

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