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The Duke of Kent ensures commemorations for fallen soldiers will come into sharp focus this year

PUBLISHED: 10:40 10 February 2014

The Duke with CWGC Commissioners Mr Keith Simpson MP, Mr Kevan Jones MP and Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence KCVO CB ADC(P)

The Duke with CWGC Commissioners Mr Keith Simpson MP, Mr Kevan Jones MP and Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence KCVO CB ADC(P)

MAUREEN MCLEAN

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s new museum reveals how the fallen and their families have been served and remembered over a century

King George V’s passportKing George V’s passport

The travel document is brown with age and makes it clear the holder can use it for just 10 days in May of 1922. Somewhat scribbled writing explains the reason for the visit and with the accompanying photograph of the proposed user this paper relic has become a poignant part of history.

‘This pass permits the holder to enter France or Belgium for the purpose of visiting the graves of the late members of His Britannic Majesty’s forces’ it declares on the left hand side, with a version in French to keep everything official.

On the right side is a photo of that holder, age 56, nationality British. The name and address is given as ‘The King’ in capital letters, with the section for style title and Christian names left blank, and Buckingham Palace. Above is a photo of King George V, HM the Queen’s grandfather.

Of course today the Queen is the only British person who travels without a passport (they are issued in her name) although all other members of her family possess one.

Now this former sovereign’s passport is on display in a most fitting place – the new museum at The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) in Marlow Road, Maidenhead, alongside other artefacts from conflict which bring home to viewers the work of the commission in commemorating the 1.7 million Commonwealth people lost in the First and Second World Wars.

The museum was opened by another of George V’s grandchildren, the Duke of Kent, who is president of the CWGC. He said: “Our efforts to commemorate the fallen of two world wars will come into sharp focus during the forthcoming centenary of the First World War.”

2014 will see the commission overseeing the re-engraving of thousands of headstones to ensure they remain legible, and in this modern era new websites will be launched alongside phone apps providing details of events to mark the centenary.

We’d like to encourage readers to visit the museum. It’s open during office hours, Monday to Friday, large parties are asked to contact CWGC in advance. See www.cwgc.org, tel 01628 634221.

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