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.
Torquay Cemetery and Extension contains 136 burials of the First World War, 32 of them forming a small plot in the south-west corner of the old part, near a small group of New Zealand graves (a small New Zealand Discharge Depot was formed at St. Mary's Church at the end of 1916). Of the 97 Second World War graves, 50 are in a war graves plot in the eastern part of the extension, the rest scattered.