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, Edinburgh was headquarters to the 4th,5th,6th and 9th Battalions of the Royal Scots, with the 7th Battalion at Leith. The 2nd Scottish General Hospital (1,000 beds) occupied Craigleith Poorhouse, the Edinburgh War Hospital (2,600 beds) was in the Asylum buildings at Bangour and the Leith War Hospital (585 beds) in the infirmary at Leith. The port of Leith was used by hospital ships from north Russia and about 4,500 officers and men passed through it.
Second World War military hospitals were in Edinburgh Castle, Edinburgh Royal Infirmary and Bangour. The city was also Scottish Command Headquarters.
Edinburgh (Comely Bank) Cemetery contains 225 burials of the First World War, most of them forming a war graves plot in Section D. The Second World War plot is immediately in front and contains more than half of the 76 Second World War burials. The cemetery also contains a Finnish war grave and two non-war service burials.