On 16 October 1959, the governments of the United Kingdom and the Federal Republic of Germany made an agreement about the future care of the remains of German military personnel and German civilian internees of both World Wars, which at the time were interred in scattered cemeteries not already maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC). It was agreed that the remains would be transferred to a single central cemetery established on Cannock Chase for this purpose.
The German War Graves Commission (Volksbund Deutsche Kriegsgräberfürsorge) made the necessary arrangements and the inauguration and dedication of this cemetery took place in June 1967. The cemetery is maintained under the inter-government agreement by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. It contains nearly 5,000 German and Austrian graves. There is a small separate section for the crews of the four airships (SL 11, L32, L31, L48) shot down over British soil during the Great War.
Although military cemeteries are common on the continent, Cannock Chase War Cemetery is one of the few dedicated military cemeteries in the United Kingdom.
Built and cared for by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, the cemetery was established during the First World War, when a large military training camp at Cannock Chase became the base for the New Zealand Rifle Brigade. There was also a prisoner-of-war hospital with 1,000 beds, and both camp and hospital used the burial ground.
The cemetery, which is open all year round, contains 97 Commonwealth burials of the First World War, most of them New Zealanders, and 286 German burials. There are also three burials of the Second World War.