Hello all. You may have seen mentioned in recent posts that some of the last resting places of our fallen have been visited and it has been seen that the grave sites and the stones have been in, shall we say, an unsatisfactory condition.
There could be many reasons for this such as family members having passed away or moved on or that the grave has just been abandoned. I thought that all C.W.G.C. graves were looked after by the commission but this does not seem to be the case.
I contacted them on this and they told me that they take responsibility for all graves up till 1948. After that date, it appears that it is the responsibility of what was called local branches. They of course do not do this work themselves but sub contract out and they said that they try to ensure that it is done every 5 years or so.
In the last 12 months or so, I have visited 8 graves on our ROH, located as far afield as North and South London down to South Wales and in each case, although the condition of the site varied, all the stones were in a sad condition. A couple were so black with mould that it was nearly impossible to read the names. I have also seen pictures on military graves websites and I've yet to find one that is shiny and white like those the CWGC like to show off in the military cemeteries.
It is obvious to me that the cleaning work is not being carried out and has not been for decades. Almost like another example of burying Op Banner.....literally. Now some might say, "Phone them and complain" but I say, "If you want something doing properly, do it yourself."
Some members who read the post on the condition of the grave site of L/Bdr Wynne came forward with the suggestion that they wouldn't mind checking out any in their area hence the idea of sponsorship was born. For several weeks now, work has been going on compiling a dossier on the burial locations of our fallen. I must emphasise that this is not a replacement for our excellent ROH but rather a reference document and unlike the ROH, will not be published on site. There are still people out there who do not like us and with all the recent acts of vandalism against things military, we are not going to make it easy for them if they have in mind any acts of desecration.
At the present time, I have a list of approxamately 700 locations, most of which are on the mainland. This is a work in progress so will increase with time but I think we have enough to make a start. What I am looking for is a report on the condition of both the site and the stone. If possible, a simple photograph would be very useful for a "before and after" comparison. Also, if any other CWGC sites are seen on the area with dates that encompass the Op Banner era, ie 1969 - 2008, to make a note of the name, grave section and number and pass them on to us. It could assist in filling in some of the missing data. I know there were other conflicts during that time span, but a quick check on our ROH will eliminate those. That is not to say that they will be ignored. Any that are found to be a bit tatty, that information will be passed on to the appropriate Regimental Association.
Obviously, we can plan an "action day" or "the big clean up" for those willing and able to partake but that's for the future. For the moment, what I'm looking for is volunteers who are willing to "sponsor" the areas where they live.
Until we arrange something better, if those members who wish to get involved in this could PM me or Deadhorse with the area they wish to sponsor and an email address so we can copy on an attachment the locations in that area.
Just to let you know that your "hard working" Administrators have already volunteered their services but its a large country and we are going to need lots of help.