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One million, one hundred thousand men and women lost their lives in the service of the British Empire during the First World War; in the Second, another six hundred thousand from all parts of the Commonwealth made the same sacrifice.

The First World War, which began as a war between professional armies, was very soon to be fought by millions of ordinary citizens turned soldier. Those who died could no longer be "shovelled into a hole...and so forgotten" as had happened, to Thakeray's indignation, at Waterloo, and in May 1917 a new organization, the Imperial War Graves Commission, was founded to provide permanent care for their graves and commemoration for the missing.

The Unending Vigil tells the story of the Commission - of its beginnings on the western Front, and of its work since then, laboring worldwide, often against the odds to turn scenes of desolation and horror into places of peace and haunting beauty