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June 2012: Restoration and Renovation

Portsmouth Naval Memorial

Welcome to our June 2012 Newsletter.

This month has been one of exciting restoration and renovation across the CWGC.

Through this newsletter you can take a look at some unique shots taken from the top of Portsmouth Naval Memorial, as we seek to clean all the bronze, repoint the obelisk and replace some of the more eroded stone.

There is also an opportunity to check out the stunning results of a year-long project to restore Amersfoort (Oud Leusden) General Cemetery. Our teams shifted over 246 tonnes of earth – and still managed to finish ahead of schedule.

Most importantly, however, you will see that these projects are part of a continuing process. As we introduce our brand new blog from Director of Horticulture, David Richardson, you will gain an insight into our cutting edge horticultural expertise and the exacting standards which we continuously strive to maintain.

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Restoration reveals surprise at Portsmouth Naval Memorial

Portsmouth Naval Memorial

Work has been under way for almost a month at Portsmouth Naval Memorial - and has brought with it a bit of a surprise.

Scaffolding is in place to provide a platform for our staff as they clean off all the bronze, repoint the entire obelisk and replace some of the more eroded pieces of stone.

A safer method of climbing up through the inside of the Memorial is also being installed.

But our Works Manager, Chris Mc Lean, discovered someone had already devised their own way to scale the memorial, as he found traces of graffiti on the large copper sphere at the top.

"How anyone managed to get up to the top and then cut their initials into the copper is beyond me. It was hard enough climbing up safely inside scaffolding," he said.

See more

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Renovation of Amersfoort (Oud Leusden) General Cemetery

Amersfoort (Oud Leusden) General Cemetery

A year-long project to restore and renovate Amersfoort (Oud Leusden) General Cemetery has been completed ahead of  schedule, thanks to the hard work of staff in the Commission's Northern Europe Area.

During the course of the project 325 cubic metres of earth - weighing 246 tonnes - was moved out, and 240 tonnes moved in to replace it. 1300 square metres of turf was laid.

The cemetery is in a woodland area so rabbits are a big problem. 300 metres of rabbit-proof cages were used to protect the new plants, and 1000 heathers - which the rabbits don't like - were planted.

Our  Horticulture Manager in Northern Europe, Chris Griffiths-Hardman, said the work was completed two weeks ahead of schedule because of hard work and great cooperation between the gardening team and the works team.

Read more


Blogspot with David Richardson

David Richardson is just a few weeks into his new role as our Director of Horticulture and he's ready to tell us something about the Commission's green fingers.

Read David's blog -- covering our work in Springtime; the Chelsea Flower Show; and more besides.

Brookwood Military Cemetery

Veterans take a taxi to remember fallen comrades

CWGC headstone

More than 150 British veterans made a special journey to the Netherlands to mark the end of the Second World War – travelling in 80 London taxis.

The trip was sponsored by the London Taxi Benevolent Association and Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, and the comedian, Al Murray, turned out to send the veterans on their way.

Many of the veterans took part in Operation Market Garden - at the time the biggest airborne assault in history - which was Montgomery's brainchild for ending the war in 1944.

The focus for their trip was a memorial service at Groesbeek on 4th May, the Dutch Day of Remembrance.

The centrepiece of the service was headstone of an unknown soldier from the Second World War, loaned for the occasion from our office at Ieper in Belgium.

Click here to discover the full story.

Veterans take a taxi
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Kanchanaburi War Cemetery to star in new film, The Railway Man

Kanchanaburi War Cemetery

The spotlight is on Kanchanaburi War Cemetery as it plays a starring role in  new film, The Railway Man.

Based on Eric Lomax's book of the same title, the film tells his story as a young Scottish POW on the Burma railway and how, with the help of his wife, he travelled back to Asia to meet one of his torturers.

Eric Lomax will be played by Colin Firth and his wife, Patti, by Nicole Kidman.Filming in Kanchanaburi War Cemetery will take place in early June.

The cemetery is only a short distance from the site of the former ‘Kanburi’, the POW base camp through which most of the prisoners passed on their way to other camps.

It was created by the Army Graves Service who transferred to it all graves along the southern section of the Burma-Siam railway, from Bangkok to Nieke.

Read more

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The Strange Case of the Motor Racing Secret Agent

William Grover-Williams

Sky Sports have been filming at Brookwood Military Cemetery to cover the story of a British secret agent who was the first winner of the Monaco Grand Prix.

William Grover-Williams - born in France to an English father and French mother - was working with the French resistance when he was captured by the Nazis during the Second World War. He was executed in Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp. Or was he?

British government documents released in 2003 suggest Grover-Williams may have survived the war. It's been suggested that the cousin of Grover-Williams's widow, who lived with her for years after the war, may have been Grover-Williams himself.

For the record: Captain William Charles Frederick Grover-Williams is commemorated on the Brookwood Memorial - Panel 21, Column 3.

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One Reader's Snapshot: Pigeon Ravine Cemetery

Summer is finally beginning to arrive on The Somme. Jocelyn Bridge and her husband were taking photos for the War Graves Photographic Project when they spotted the Cross of Sacrifice of Pigeon Ravine Cemetery emerging from a sea of colza in full flower.

Pigeon Ravine Cemetery
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Nine more headstones to be dedicated at Fromelles

Fromelles (Pheasant Wood) Cemetery

A dedication service for the headstones marking the graves of nine Australian soldiers will be held at Fromelles (Pheasant Wood) Military Cemetery at 7 pm on July 20th, 2012.

The date is the 96th anniversary of the disastrous Battle of Fromelles in which the soldiers died.

The nine were the latest to be identified of 250 Australian and British soldiers buried at Fromelles after being recovered from burial pits in 2010. The bodies were first buried by German forces after the battle.

The Australian Army and the Mayor of Fromelles will co-host the  ceremony for the replacement headstones. More details can be found at the Australian Army's website.

Of the 250 bodies recovered from the mass graves near Pheasant Wood, 119 Australian soldiers have been identified.

Read more

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Sunderland school pupils locate graves for local families

Springwell Dene Pupil pays his respects

Pupils at Springwell Dene School, Sunderland have returned from the school’s third annual trip to the Somme.

Springwell Dene is a small special school catering for pupils with emotional and behavioural problems.  Before these trips the majority of the students involved have never been out of the UK.

Following the success of previous trips, the decision was made this year to contact the local press and offer the service of locating and placing crosses on the graves and memorials of local men killed in the Somme region.

The school was approached by seven members of the public wishing to take them up on this offer.

The School's Assistant Headmaster, Alan Douglas, has written  an account for our Newsletter, in which he explains how the trips started and how this year's venture went.

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Famous Olympians: Henry Maitland Macintosh

Henry Maitland Macintosh

Henry Maitland Macintosh had had a poor domestic season before the 1912 Olympic Games.  

Scottish born, and Cambridge educated, he lost  in the 100 yards at both the Cambridge University and Varsity sports events. He finished last in the 100 yards at the Amateur Athletic Association Championships and didn't even compete in the 220 yards.

It would have been a very lean year -- but he made up for it all with an Olympic gold medal in the sprint relay.

Macintosh's form continued to improve throughout 1913 where, as President of the Cambridge University Athletics Club, he won the 100 yards against Oxford and the Scottish 100 yards, before equalling the British record of 9.8 seconds in Vienna.

In 1914 he was commissioned into the Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders. In the summer of 1918, age 26, he was killed in action on The Somme and is commemorated in Senlis French National Cemetery.

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Battles this Month: June 1915 - The Liverpool Scottish at Bellewaarde

Hooge Crater Cemetery

At the close of the Second Battle of Ypres in April 1915, the German trenches on high ground north of Hooge between the Menin Road and the Ypres-Roulers railway formed a salient. This high ground, the Bellewaarde Ridge, gave good observation over the British lines.

In June 1915, it was decided to attack these German trenches and attempt to gain possession of the ridge.

Private Frederick Alexander Fyfe of Liverpool Scottish (the 1/10th King’s (Liverpool) Regiment) was a former newspaper photographer. Here we are able to approach the battle through a series of photographs he took of life at the front line.

Thanks to the Western Front Association (WFA) for providing this article. The WFA is a registered charity dedicated to perpetuating the memory of those who served in the First World War.

For further information about the WFA and how to join their association please visit their website.

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A to Z of countries: I is for India

Kohima War Cemetery

Over 62,000 Commonwealth war dead of the two world wars, and seventy-seven of other nationalities, are buried or commemorated by the Commission in India – in nine war cemeteries and twelve other sites.

Of the war dead, over 51,000 who have no known graves, or whose graves elsewhere in India could not be permanently maintained, are commemorated on ten memorials. 

Casualties from the 1914-18 War in India, apart from those who died on the North-West Frontier, were mainly garrison deaths. 

During the 1939-45 War cemeteries for hospitals and the lines of communication were established at Ranchi, Kirkee, Madras, Digboi and Gauhati, and for the battlefields at Imphal and Kohima.

The majority of Hindus and Sikhs are commemorated on special cremation memorials erected in many of the war cemeteries while the graves of those of the Muslim faith are marked by headstones.

Read more


And Also

Duke of York pays respects at war graves in India >>>

Metal theft at cemetery in Poland >>>

Commision staff help H4H Rally reach £400,000 total >>>

Over 300 cyclists take on Big Battlefield Bike Ride >>>

Duke of York


Commonwealth War Graves Commission
2 Marlow Road, Maidenhead, Berkshire, SL6 7DX. United Kingdom

t: +44 (0) 1628 507200




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