placed on the tombstones
of British soldiers
killed in action if the fortunes of war have rendered the body unidentifiable.
The inscription "A British soldier of the Great War known unto God" was chosen for the unknown soldiers of World War I by Rudyard Kipling, Poet Laureate, whose son was killed in the trenches. Subsequent conflicts have preserved this tradition, with "Great War" replaced by the name of the conflict in which the unfortunate died.
Modern forensic techniques mean that the number of new "Known unto God" tombstones in each conflict since World War II have rapidly diminished. It is still, however, used on the tombstones of soldiers killed in the two world wars whose bodies have only recently been discovered.