CWGC Project

Duncan MacLeod - 2006-03-05

Update 2012-02-19 - New CWGC website

Better looking, with better search options, but still no means of searching all database fields. Not clear if all database entries will be accessible to search engines. Some data has been lost from the old version. See Update below for details.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission has excellent on-line data for local historians and genealogists. However, much of these data are not easily searchable, unless looking for a specific individual. For my research, I am usually more interested in locations, which apart from the Civilian War Dead lists, it is not possible to search with the CWGC's search facility. Even the Civilian War Dead list is not complete, as it groups casualties by place of death, rather than site of incident. It was not uncommon for injured casualties to be moved and subsequently die in hospitals outside the recording district of the original incident, making it difficult to trace all victims of an incident. I want to be able to search using other parameters, particularly street names.

The situation is no better seaching the database using generic search engines such as Google or Yahoo. Though some base records can be displayed, the results are by no means comprehensive. I'm not really sure why some records are displayed. Possibly linked to by other websites, though the link search usually draws a blank.

The way the CGWC database is displayed and navigated on-line is not search engine friendly as many of the links use javascript to generate the next page's URL.

The aims of this project are:

CWGC data structure

The data are stored as two lists - a list of cemeteries, each with its own unique identification number, and a list of casualties, again each with its own unique identification number. Civilian War Dead are also stored as cemetery lists, though the identification number represents a local authority's list, rather than an actual cemetery.


The details of a cemetery can be accessed using the following url:


where CemID is the cemetery id number.


The details of a casualty can be accessed using the following url:


where CasID is the casualty's id number.

Casualties are listed by cemetery in eight tables arranged in surname order. A table may have more than one page if there are more than 20 casualties in a table. A seach-engine crawlable route to each casualty record in a cemetery can be made by listing the first page for each of eight table listings, as direct links to any additional pages in a table are listed at the bottom of each table page:

where CemID is the cemetery id number.

So... if for each cemetery, a link to the summary page, and the eight casualty tables is listed, then the full database is accessible to a search engine via simple non-javascript links.

The following list links to pages that contain these nine links for each Cemetery:

Test Queries

The following searches were made before the above index pages went online.

A search for Kenneth MacKenzie on www.cwgc.org yielded one result on Google and none on yahoo.

A similar search for Bernera yields nothing on either, and Berneray yields two references to the Berneray Burial Ground on Google and again nothing on Yahoo.

"Kimbolton Road" yielded nothing on Google or Yahoo.