Structure of Army Graves Service

ADGR&E (or ADGRE) was the military acronym for the British Army’s Directorate of Graves Registration and Enquiries, also known as AG13.

Confusingly, the acronym ADGR&E also stood for a job title: Assistant Director, Graves Registration and Enquiries. This reflected Army organisation, there being various sub-directories under the top-level Directorate. The Assistant Director of Graves Registration and Enquiries in Western Europe was Colonel Arthur Owen Stott.

Part of the personnel branch of the Army and thus ultimately under the control of the Adjutant General, ADGR&E had two key duties.

The first consisted of registering graves, be they in cemeteries, churchyards, or isolated spots. This registration process was running during heavy fighting during the war, but after the tide of war had passed it took on a huge extra dimension when the burial sites of all British servicemen, from all three Services – Army, Navy, and RAF – were rationalised.

The second was the responsibility for the creation of new Military Cemeteries and the reorganisation of older burial sites where necessary; frequently this involved a considerable number of new registrations, when bodies whose whereabouts had previously been unknown were found, or bodies were moved – or in the official term ‘concentrated’ – to central sites. Once again, this process began during the war, but carried on for several years afterwards.