This dissertation will examine the changing role of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission 1917 to the present day. This study represents the first chronological study to incorporate the projects and events used to commemorate the Centenary of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC), with a focus on the Western Front. Previous approaches to the history of the CWGC and battlefield tourism are critically reviewed, and a unique methodology is adopted. This approach challenges the perception that the Commission role is not just limited as the custodian to the cemeteries and memorials, rather than engaging with the visitor economy but to engage present and future generations in war commemoration. Moving beyond an exclusive historical approach, surrounding the Commission and visitation to the sites, it conceptualises the role of the Commission utilising tourism, cultural and geographical disciplines. The role of the CWGC is structured within a three time period: the establishment and early years of the CWGC, the Second World War until the early 2010s and the Centenary of the First World War 2014-2018. The mixed method qualitative approach is used to evaluate public reaction to the Commission’s policies whether in the 1920s or nearly a century later during the Centenary period. This emphasises how people over the last century have interacted and reacted with the sites, shifting from a pilgrim to a tourist. Furthermore, this approach demonstrates that the themes within this dissertation are not limited by the time period or geographical location.
Keywords: Commonwealth War Graves Commission; Centenary of the First World War; war cemeteries and memorials; battlefield tourism; visitor economy; younger generations.
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