Following your recent article on the efforts of Hilmarton resident Richard Broadhead to obtain a military headstone for Private Ernest Bennett of the Wiltshire Regiment, who died in 1916, I thought I should explain how cases like this are dealt with by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.
Firstly, I would like to thank Mr Broadhead for his work, which is appreciated. As with the hundreds of other cases which we investigate each year, in order for any person to be recognised as a war casualty, suitable evidence has to be submitted.
The commission then investigates the matter, before passing the file to the Ministry of Defence (if the casualty is British), which decides if that person does indeed qualify as a war casualty.
If the MoD decides they do, then we at the commission will erect a headstone at the grave, or in the case of a casualty where there is no grave, such as for the thousands of airmen and naval casualties, we will add their name to one of our Memorials to the Missing. In the case of Private Bennett, his case is currently under consideration by the MoD.
I have spoken to Mr Broadhead and he is going to submit evidence pertaining to other cases, which will be considered in the same way. The commission will always endeavour to maintain the memory of those who made the ultimate sacrifice in two world wars.
Ranald Leask, Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Marlow Road, Maidenhead.