War Grave tours will reveal Coningsby’s hidden heritage

There's a wealth of World War heritage on your doorstep, and these new tours will help you find it.

A CWGC tour at a military cemetery.
A CWGC tour at a military cemetery.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) will be introducing three walking tours at Coningsby Cemetery on Dogdyke Road, to give people the chance to discover the remarkable stories of the men and women of the Commonwealth forces that died in the First and Second World Wars who are buried in their community.

The tours will also help local people learn about the skills, dedication and expertise of the CWGC staff and volunteers who work to keep their memory alive.

The tours will be led by Wing Commander (Ret’d) Peter Jacobs, who is a volunteer for the CWGC.

Peter said: “Behind every name on a war grave or memorial in Coningsby Cemetery is a human story waiting to be discovered and the tours provide the perfect opportunity to do that.

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"I’d encourage everyone in the Coningsby area to join one of the tours to reconnect with their local history to learn about the courageous people from our community who made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom.”

There are 38 casualties from World War One and World War Two are buried at Coningsby Cemetery and as there has been an active RAF airfield at Coningsby since November 1940, most of the wartime graves are casualties who served with Bomber Command during the Second World War.

Through these casualties we can plot Bomber Command’s progression through the war, from the early days of the Handley Page Hampden bomber, through the ill-fated Avro Manchester to the highly successful four-engine Avro Lancaster.

Many of the casualties are members of the same crew and many are buried far away from their home; half of the casualties are from overseas.

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There is also a single headstone to an Unknown Airman and the tour also reveals the site where six German casualties of the Second World War were once buried. But it is not only wartime casualties at the cemetery. There are forty non-war graves and through these we can follow RAF Coningsby’s role since the end of the Second World War.

The CWGC honours and cares for the men and women of the Commonwealth forces who died in the First and Second World Wars, ensuring they will never be forgotten. Funded by six Member Governments, its work began with building, and now maintaining, cemeteries at 23,000 locations all over the world.

Today, over a century after it first began, work continues through staff, supporters and volunteers who preserve a unique cultural, horticultural, and architectural heritage that ensures the stories of those who died are told.

The free guided tours will take place at 2pm and 3.30pm on Wednesday (August 17), at 2pm and 3.30pm on Sunday September 18, and at 2pm and 3.30pm on Sunday September 25.

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To book a free tour, visit www.cwgc.org/tours