Call for Veterans to contribute stories

3 June 2019

As part of Second World War anniversaries, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) has created its first online sound archive, Voices of Liberation.

CWGC is launching a call for Canadian content for a worldwide initiative to capture voices of the “greatest generation” for a unique online sound archive, allowing veterans and their families to make their own lasting tribute.

To mark the 75th anniversary of some of the most momentous battles in history, CWGC is recording the voices of veterans, relatives and pilgrims for a unique online sound resource that highlights why war graves, cemeteries and memorials are as poignant today as when they were first built.

From the beaches of Normandy to the hills of Kohima, to the mountains of Manipur, Voices of Liberation is a global project that will cover the sacrifice and contribution of Commonwealth forces who paid so high a price for the liberty we enjoy today.

Of the 1.7 million people CWGC commemorates more than 100,000 died in these pivotal battles during 1944. Commonwealth servicemen and women are commemorated in CWGC war cemeteries and memorials across the world and today, these iconic sites of remembrance remain places of pilgrimage for veterans and descendants. The archive aims to pay tribute to those who gave their lives and shine a light upon these places of remembrance.

The public will be able to explore the archive online and discover a wealth of recordings, from firsthand accounts from veterans about losing comrades to testimony from family pilgrimages to the battlefields.

The recordings capture the voices of veterans who served in infamous battles during the war, such as Victor Gregg. Gregg served with the Parachute Regiment and in 1944 found himself at the Battle of Arnhem, where he was captured by the Germans. Victor now 99 years old, recorded his story to be part of the archive.

CWGC is now calling on the Canadian public to record their own stories and feelings, relating to the Second World War and its sites of remembrance. The stories will reinforce these sites as unique places of memory and create a resource that is both a moment in history and a fitting tribute to those who died. CWGC has also approached the Canadian institutions such as Library and Archives Canada and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation about possible collaboration on unique Canadian content.

“We believe that by capturing these stories from the Canadian public we are creating an archive of international importance and a lasting legacy for those who died for our today,” says Andrew Fetherston, Chief Archivist at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. “We want people to share their connections to the war and our cemeteries to ensure that as Commonwealth nations we have not forgotten their sacrifice.”

Alongside the sound archive the CWGC has launched its new podcast series “Legacy of Liberation”, the six-part series explores the key moments of the Second World war conflict, and the historic cemeteries and memorials which commemorate those who fought and died. Historian Dr Glyn Prysor and heritage expert Dr Lucy Kellett explore the unique experience of visiting these sites of memory and mourning, taking a fresh look at events which have become almost legendary, and examining the artistic, architectural and social legacies of these iconic places.

Contribute to Voices of Liberation and listen to the podcast here: liberation.cwgc.org

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) commemorates the 1.7 million Commonwealth servicemen and women who died during the two world wars. It also holds and updates an extensive and accessible records archive. The Commission operates in more than 23,000 locations in more than 150 countries. The CWGC has its Canadian office in Ottawa, Ontario www.cwgc.org.

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