Montreal Mount Royal Cemetery, Quebec
|"He is not missing: he is here!"
Field Marshal Lord Plumer, Unveiling of Menin Gate, Belgium, 1927
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission was established by Royal Charter on 21 May 1917. Its duties are to mark and maintain the graves of the members of the forces of the Commonwealth who died during the two world wars, to build and maintain memorials to the dead whose graves are unknown, and to keep records and registers. The cost is shared by the partner governments – those of Australia, Canada, India, New Zealand, South Africa and United Kingdom - in proportions based on the numbers of their graves. The Commission also takes on work outside the Charter on a direct repayment basis for its member governments.
The Canadian Agency of the Commission is responsible for fulfilling the Charter tasks in the Americas (including the Caribbean); this includes the commemoration of 20,370 War Dead in 3,400 cemeteries and on ten memorials. The Commission also carries out cyclical inspection and maintenance work for Veterans graves (those who served and survived the wars but were subsequently buried at the expense of Canada) on behalf of Veterans Affairs Canada.
To be considered War Dead one must have died during the designated war years in service or of causes attributable to service. The war years are considered to be 4 August 1914 to 31 August 1921 for the First World War and 3 September 1939 to 31 December 1947 for the Second World War.
The Commission's work is guided by fundamental principles which were established in 1920.
The member governments decided to establish a policy of non-repatriation of human remains in order to respect the theme of common sacrifice and equal honour in death.