Leeds Lawnswood war graves cemetery.Leeds Lawnswood war graves cemetery.
Leeds Lawnswood war graves cemetery.

War Graves Week is coming to Leeds and Pudsey

People are being encouraged to discover the stories behind the graves buried at Leeds and Pudsey.

The call is being made by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) which will be bringing War Graves Week to the area and offering free tours at Lawnswood and Pudsey Cemeteries between May 20 and 28.

Director General of the CWGC, Claire Horton, said: “Behind every name on a war grave or memorial in West Yorkshire is a human story waiting to be discovered and War Graves Week is the perfect opportunity to do just that.

“As world leaders in commemoration, our mission is to ensure those who died in service, or as a result of conflict, are commemorated so that they, and the human cost of war, are remembered forever.”

War Graves Week is an initiative aimed at encouraging people from the local community to come together and discover the World War heritage on their doorstep – learning about the stories of those commemorated by the CWGC in Leeds and Pudsey and the skills, dedication and expertise of those CWGC staff and volunteers who work to keep their memory alive.

The free tours at Pudsey Cemetery will take place on Wednesday May 24 at 7pm and at Saturday May 27, 1pm.

More than 40 casualties from World War One and World War Two are buried at this site.

A spokesman for the CWGC said: “Among the casualties are Ronnie Muir and Stanley Coates.

"The two young men were firm friends growing up in Pudsey, and Stanley was engaged to Ronnie’s sister Irene.

“The Second World War was to turn their lives upside down as first Ronnie and then Stanley would join the RAF.

"Tragically both young men died in separate flying accidents before their lives really got going.

“They were buried next to each other by Stanley’s own request and their graves are now marked with CWGC headstones.”

The spokesman told of Aircraftwoman 1st Class Dorothy Whiteley, who died in hospital in Ely, and is the only female casualty buried at Pudsey Cemetery.

“Dorothy had been serving with the RAF at Lakenheath in Suffolk and her Squadron was supporting the Special Operations Executive in their build up to D-Day.”

Tours will take place at Lawnswood Cemetery on Sunday May 28 at 10.30am and 1pm.

More than 300 casualties from both World Wars are buried there.

These include Private Leonard Stewart who served with the West Yorkshire Regiment in the First World War.

“Tragically the Stewart family was to lose five sons in service over the course of the war with one dying each year from 1915–1919,” said the CWGC spokesman.

The tours will be led by local residents Damon Sugden and Chris Lamb who are volunteer tour guides for the CWGC.

The CWGC is encouraging the people of Leeds and Pudsey to seek out the stories in their local area and book onto a free tour this War Graves Week.

To book a tour, visit www.cwgc.org/wargravesweek