During the two world wars, the United Kingdom became an island fortress used for training troops and launching land, sea and air operations around the globe. There are more than 170,000 Commonwealth war graves in the United Kingdom, many being those of servicemen and women killed on active service, or who later succumbed to wounds. Others died in training accidents, or because of sickness or disease. The graves, many of them privately owned and marked by private memorials, will be found in more than 12,000 cemeteries and churchyards.
During the First World War, the major hospitals in Leeds were the 2nd Northern General with 1,800 beds and the East Leeds War Hospital with 1,900.
Leeds was also one of the principal hospital centres in Yorkshire during the Second World War.
Leeds (Harehills) Cemetery contains burials of both wars, many of them in a war graves plot in Section G, the rest scattered.
The First World War casualties in the plot are commemorated on a screen wall, as are 15 Second World War casualties buried elsewhere in the cemetery whose graves could not be individually marked. There are also also special memorials to a number of servicemen buried in other cemeteries whose graves could no longer be maintained.
In all, 176 Commonwealth casualties of the First World War and 147 from the Second World War are now commemorated in the cemetery; there are also three war graves of other nationalities. The Cross of Sacrifice stands in the war graves plot.
Casualties buried in the following chapelyards are now alternatively commemorated in Leeds (Harehills) Cemetery: Guiseley Primitive Methodist Chapelyard Little London (Craggs) Baptist Chapelyard Yeadon Wesleyan Methodist Chapelyard.