Commemorations Team, Defence Business Services Joint Casualty and Compassionate Centre
The Commemorations Team within the Joint Casualty and Compassionate Centre is unique within the Civil Service, and the nation, in being the sole UK authority to formally identify casualties discovered from both World Wars, both those newly discovered and those previously buried ‘Known unto God’.
Sometimes referred to as the ‘War Detectives’, this fascinating role requires deep research, using national archives, contemporary records such as trench maps and regimental diaries, and personal effects. They are self-taught experts in ancestry research and genealogy, both to identify remains and to locate surviving relatives, on occasion making use of DNA techniques where an additional level of analysis is required. They work closely with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Services Groups and DNA Experts, both in the identification process and in arranging sensitive and appropriate reburial or rededication services.
Their work regularly results in international media coverage, rightly focused on the fallen and their families, but enabled by the team’s immense amount of work conducted behind the scenes. During 2018, the team concluded and delivered 27 cases, culminating with commemorative events in mainland Europe, including Albania and Italy as well as the WW1 Centenary event in Ypres with the Australian Defence Force.