Get to know our Commonwealth War Graves Guides: Team Tyne Cot

Commonwealth War Graves Guides are back with one team stationed at the iconic Tyne Cot Cemetery in Belgium. Get to know the Tyne Cot Guides Team a little better below.

Commonwealth War Graves Guides

The Tyne Cot Guides Team

Overhead shot of Tyne Cot Cemetery displaying neatlyarrayed headstones, the curving wall of the Tyne Cot Memorial, and neatly trimmed landscaping.

Tyne Cot is the largest Commonwealth War Graves cemetery in the world. With nearly 12,000 World War One burials, Tyne Cot is a humbling yet iconic location.

Our brilliant young history enthusiasts are on the ground at Tyne Cot as part of the Guides Programme. They’re there to share the stories of the fallen, the history of the cemetery, and much, much more.

Get to know the CWG Guides team on the ground at Tyne Cot – and don’t forget to pay them a visit at one of the world’s most spectacular military cemeteries.

Over to the Guides!

Joseph Armitage

Portrait of Joseph Armitage in his yellow CWGF Guides polo and grey shorts.Why did you want to work for Commonwealth War Graves?

I've always visited CWGC sites with my dad since I was young and love getting to know different sites and the stories they tell. Whilst I was a student I worked as a guide at university open days, and it was a job I both enjoyed and came naturally to me so being a Commonwealth War Graves Guide was an ideal opportunity for me.

Do you have any personal connections to our sites?

My great-great-grandfather is commemorated on the WW2 merchant navy memorial on Tower Hill which I've visited many times. I've also done a lot of research into my dad's grandfather who was wounded on 1st July 1916, however, he survived so is not commemorated by the commission.

What are you particularly looking forward to the most?

Spending so much time at a site like Tyne Cot will be amazing as there's always more to learn and I hope to find many different stories that can tell the larger story of the First World War and the battles around the Ypres salient. It will also be nice to have people that want to listen to me talk about war graves for a change.

What were you doing before? What are you planning to do after?

I was working at The Swan pub in my hometown of Windsor, and I will likely go back to this role upon my return. It is a fantastic place to work, and I've met many great people there, both staff and regulars. 

I'm always on the lookout for enriching opportunities or chances to try new things though so I will have to see what life throws up next.

Do you have any particularly interesting or unusual hobbies?

I am happiest when I’m outdoors and enjoy birdwatching, especially spotting kingfishers down by the river as they're my favourite bird. 

I like to take my binoculars with me, so I'm prepared if I do spot a rare bird. I'm also a massive fan of Blackpool FC which most people seem to find unusual for someone who's lived in Windsor their entire life.

Erin Harris

Portrait photo of Erin Harris in her yellow CWGF polo and grey shorts. She is standing in front of the graves at Tyne Cot Cemetery.

Why did you want to work for Commonwealth War Graves?

I have always been interested in history, specifically the time periods of WW1 and WW2, and have always enjoyed finding out as much as I can about this era. 

I discovered the Commission's work through going on a battlefields tour with my high school in 2018 and quickly found out about the Guides Programme also. 

I had never heard of Commonwealth War Graves beforehand and thought it had a very unique approach and was amazed to discover the many different aspects of the organisation which made me more eager to become involved in some way.  

Do you have any personal connections to our sites?

My great-great-uncle is commemorated at Tower Hill Memorial in London. Mess Room Boy Frank Harris enlisted with the Merchant Navy on the outbreak of the Second World War, and he was the younger brother of my great-great-grandfather. He was working on board the MV Austvard when it hit a mine. 

My great-great-uncle was one of the lucky few who managed to make it onto a lifeboat but sadly when the ship was going down the lifeboat was swept away, and he lost his life, he was 21. 

I have been able to visit the memorial many times now and try to go every time I am in London, it's always really nice to visit knowing that I am the first of my family to do so. 
What are you particularly looking forward to the most?

I am really looking forward to just learning more about the Commission and the history of the war. I am always eager to learn and find out a new and interesting story I have not heard of before. 

I am equally as excited to pass on this knowledge to people visiting the sites and ensure that when they have finished their visit they have been impacted by the story of the site and the soldiers, as well as learning a little bit more about the work of the CWGC.  
What were you doing before? What are you planning to do after? 

I am currently studying History at the University of Stirling and will be returning in the autumn to begin the third year of my studies. This year I will be able to specialise in the area of history I am studying, and I am hoping to continue expanding my knowledge of the First and Second World Wars in this way. I am also very excited for my semester abroad where I will be an exchange student at Charles University in Prague.  
Do you have any particularly interesting or unusual hobbies?
I have always enjoyed creative writing from a very young age and throughout the covid-19 pandemic I was able to dedicate a lot more time to this. 

This allowed me to begin planning and researching my own novel which I have now finished the first draft of, and I hope that one day I will be lucky enough to have it published!

Luke Goddard

Portrait of Luke Goddard standing in front of headstones at Tyne Cot Cemetery/ He is wearing a yellow polo, grey hat, and light denim jean shorts.

Why did you want to work for Commonwealth War Graves?

I had a visit to the region with school in 2014, and the sites had such an impact on me personally in terms of realising the scale and reality of the war. I always wanted to return at some point, and so being able to spend a whole summer giving other people the same experience I had all those years back was such an exciting idea!

Do you have a personal connection to our sites?

I don’t have any family ties that I know of to anyone commemorated by Commonwealth War Graves, but as a Yorkshireman, I do feel a local connection to many of the men. 

To see a grave or name on the wall of someone from down the road from where you live helps you see things in a new way: these were just ordinary people expected to do extraordinary things.

What are you particularly looking forward to the most?

I’m most looking forward to all the stories I am going to discover. 

Through research and through visitors telling their family stories. I’m sure by the end of the summer I will have a wide array of personal stories of the men commemorated at Tyne Cot, which again makes the war all the more real and personal. It’s not just a summer job, it’s a privilege to be able to remember these men.

What were you doing before? What are you planning to do after?

I’m currently a student, studying Arabic and French… and apparently some Dutch too now I’m in Belgium!

Do you have any particularly interesting or unusual hobbies?

I’d say exploring places around the UK… I love a seaside trip to places like Scarborough, or a walk in the Peak District. Oh, and following Sheffield United! 

I do like a good read, Richard Osman’s books are a good laugh, but I like reading political stuff as well to try and widen my understanding of politics… but that doesn’t sound as fun as visiting the seaside and football, so let’s leave it there!

Learn more about Commonwealth War Graves Guides

The Guides Programme is one of our cornerstone projects at Commonwealth War Graves.

It’s a totally unique opportunity for young people from around the world to share their passion for history, discover more about the work of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and Foundation, and enjoy personal development.

Learn more about the Guides Programme here – or by coming and visiting us at Tyne Cot Cemetery, Belgium!

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