Ireland is a delicate place to work for an organisation that calls on people to look back on their history.

Even just half a generation ago, we would not have received the strength of goodwill that we do today. On our new regional manager’s first weekend in post he was invited to a Remembrance Sunday commemoration ceremony at Glasnevin Cemetery in Dublin.

There he heard a poignant and powerful speech by the President of the Irish Republic Michael D. Higgins calling for all victims of the World Wars to be commemorated and remembered.

As with elsewhere, the work at hand here is about preserving a slice of heritage and allowing simple acts of individual remembrance.

Our commitment here is sparse, but no less important for it. Around a fifth of the war graves in the Republic of Ireland alone are in the grounds of churches which have since closed, become heritage sites or have found alternative use.

A single First World War headstone stands among civilian graves in Kilcommock Old Graveyard.

Some, like Colmcille’s Graveyard in County Kilkenny, are over a kilometre away from the nearest road. The only access takes you through muddy tracks and horse fields, making any visit feel like a voyage of discovery.

The day to day maintenance in the Republic of Ireland is done on the Commission’s behalf by the Office of Public Works with whom we have been in partnership with for many decades. Without the need for gardening staff we have only one employee permanently based there.

It’s Malcolm Ross’s job to inspect the work and, more importantly, maintain and build the hundreds of local relationships that have kept our 5,500 war graves in order, across more than 1,000 locations.

“If the topic comes up when I meet someone new, I make it clear I’m not here to talk politics or religion, we have one job to do and I always open conversations with the simple task at hand.”

Malcolm then needs to deal with the sheer variety that comes from being our one man on the island.

“One day I can be hiking around muddy fields, talking to farmers and trying to find a remote headstone in rural Offaly, the next I’m at a black-tie reception in central Dublin greeting ambassadors and defence attaches.”

Reaching the long-abandoned Colmcille’s Graveyard is typical of the rural spots where you can find war graves here.

There are civilian graves, many showing the family names of the local village, which can be centuries old, carved in distinctive local stone. And among them, mostly made of Irish Blue limestone, are the war graves, our permanent reminders of the war dead.

The history and politics of who and how they fought may remain a delicate matter, but their names are far from forgotten.

Nowhere else in the UK is the challenge of access to war graves more obvious than in the Scottish Highlands and islands.

CWGC’s Scotland team often combine their commute with ferries and planes as they seek out isolated graveyards, far from the mainland. A bicycle can be an essential piece of kit when arriving on an island without cars to inspect remote headstones.

The dead they look after include islanders who served and returned, only to die of injury or illness. Many are pilots or seamen who died in accidents or whose bodies were washed ashore, far from home.

Elsewhere in Scotland, remote islands like St Finan’s Isle provide an extra challenge to our regular maintenance cycles.

Maintenance trips are constantly rescheduled around narrow weather windows when it’s unsafe to land on small remote islands, like Fair Isle, where just a handful of war graves lie.

The Commission’s traditional Portland stone will hardly be found here. Granite is one of the few substances that stands a chance of surviving the climate.

The challenge isn’t new – archive documents from 1945 show one former employee’s concerns that the vast spread was too much to handle.

His preferred solution: an island-hopping gardener, equipped with a motorbike and a lawnmower in a sidecar.

The difficulties in Scotland come high up in the mountains too.

Three miles from the nearest road and more than two thousand feet above the nearest village, lies the isolated grave of six airmen.

They are buried on a rocky plateau near the summit of Ben More Assynt, 20 miles north-east of Ullapool.

All of them died in April 1941 after their plane crashed. When their bodies were later found by a local shepherd, he buried them together using parts of their destroyed plane for a make-shift cross.

By 1944 the Commission had arranged for a temporary memorial cairn to be erected above the graves. It was unthinkable at the time to install anything more permanent in such a place.

To give families somewhere to mourn, a special memorial was placed by the Commission in the nearest village of Inchnadamph. A slowly growing pile of stones, added to by the odd passing walker, was all that remained up on the high mountain slopes.

The original Imperial War Graves Commission grave marker seen at the site of the crash.

And that would have been where the story ended.

Until in 2010, when a local mountain guide approached us. He had heard concerns the exact location of the crash site could get lost to time.

And so, with the help of the MOD, a 600kg special CWGC granite marker was lowered into place by helicopter – possibly the most remote war grave in all of the UK.