|Content Note||Contents include:|
A statistical table of graves registered up to 31st March 1921, divided into British, Dominion and Colonial, Native African, Royal Navy, Royal Air Force and Mercantile Marine.
A statement of accounts and of the finances of the Commission up to 31st March 1921, including an explanation of the reason for a change to the Commission’s funding arrangements which had previously involved HM Treasury finding the money then recovering the contributions of the other participating governments periodically. Following a conference held on 20th June 1919 it was agreed that in future years the British government’s contribution to the Commission’s funds would take the form of a Grant in Aid not controlled by the Treasury; it also provided for a representative of HM Treasury to attend meetings of the Commission’s Finance Committee.
Mention was made of Mr Winston Churchill being succeeded as Chairman by Sir Laming Worthington-Evans, the new Secretary of State for War.
Reference to the debate in the House of Commons on 4th May 1920 in which the Commission’s policy of equality of treatment and uniformity of design had been contested but ultimately defeated, largely due to the initiative of the late Mr. Burdett-Coutts MP in setting out all the facts clearly before the House.
Appointment in January 1921 of a committee to examine the proposals for the commemoration on Memorials to the Missing, and the adoption of their recommendation that cemeteries in the appropriate area should be allotted to each of the 85 battles or similarly important incidents which took place on the Western Front for the commemoration of the missing of that engagement. Appointment of a committee by the Admiralty and their recommendation that the most appropriate places for memorials to commemorate by name all those lost at sea would be the three manning ports, Portsmouth, Plymouth and Chatham, and the Commission’s approval at their 30th meeting for the design to be drawn out by the Principal Architect for the United Kingdom, Sir Robert Lorimer.
Update on the situation concerning acquisition of land for cemeteries in Belgium and in France, where 143 military cemeteries had been acquired, and site plans for 261 other cemeteries had been forwarded to the French and Belgian authorities. A French Decree of 25th September 1920 amplified the law of 29th December 1915 and gave perpetual concession in war graves in communal cemeteries. Establishment of the Commission’s headquarters at St. Omer, and five branch offices each controlling a separate area, i.e. the Belgian Battle Area; Armentieres; Bethune and La Bassee; Arras; and The Somme. Other areas being established were a Lines of Communication area north of the Somme River controlled from St. Omer; a Lines of Communication area south of the Somme River controlled from Dieppe; and one for the Aisne and Marne. Total personnel in France and Belgium amounted to 1,362, with an average of 75 in each camp.
Summaries of the work of each of the ‘branches’ including that of the Horticultural Branch whose gardeners numbered 876 on 31st March 1921, with some 948 cemeteries having been treated and sown with grass seed. Travelling gardening parties were formed a result of difficulties in accommodation in some of the devastated areas. The Administrative Branch instituted four Enquiry Bureaux at Ypres, Bethune, Arras and Amiens (subsequently moved to Albert) to assist visitors in locating graves. The Works Branch reported progress with design, contract and tendering for the 1,200 larger cemeteries requiring architectural treatment. The taking over of the whole work of the Directorate of Graves Registration and Enquiries, both in London, and in France and Belgium, was effected on 17 March 1921, with the exception of exhumations and photographs.
The work of the Commission in Italy was reported to be further advanced than any other theatre of war, with a total of about 4,000 graves and some 19 main cemeteries, of which the following were largely complete at the end of the reporting year: Giavera; Tezze; Montecchio Precalcino; Dueville; Granezza, Barenthal; Boscon; Magnaboschi; Cavalletto; Padova Main; Gradisca; Cremona Town and Savona Town cemeteries. Reference was made to the special architectural treatment of the five Asiago Plateau cemeteries, and to the indefinite delay to construction work at Genoa and Arquata owing to difficulties in land acquisition. Sir Robert Lorimer is the architect for Italy.
In Egypt an Executive Committee was appointed to act as an Agency of the Commission under the chairmanship of Mr John Langley C.B.E., where the transferral to the Commission had been arranged of the land on which the war cemeteries are situated by formal deed of gift from the Egyptian Government. In Egypt there are 9 war cemeteries with approximately 7,500 graves; Sir Robert Lorimer is the architect for the country whose designs are all out to tender. An Advisory Committee of prominent Egyptians are to consider how to commemorate those of the Egyptian Labour Corps and Camel Transport Corps who fell in the war.
In Palestine there will be 8 main cemeteries containing over 9,000 graves for which Sir John Burnet’s designs have been completed and tenders invited for four of the largest. In Macedonia 10 cemeteries with 9.300 graves have been designed by Sir Robert Lorimer and are out to tender. In Gallipoli there are about 38 cemeteries containing some 16,000 known graves for which Sir John Burnet’s designs have been completed and are out to tender. Owing to local difficulties the work in Mesopotamia is less advanced than elsewhere, over 7,000 graves have been located and Major Edward Warren’s designs for the three base cemeteries are practically complete. In East Africa where the Commission is faced with difficulties of graves and cemeteries scattered over an enormous area and several countries, consideration is being given to the design for that at Nairobi, for which the Cross of Sacrifice is on order.
In the United Kingdom some 36,000 graves have been registered and identified, contained in some 9,000 or 10,000 different cemeteries, necessitating negotiations with a large number of cemetery authorities. Six war plots have been treated with the erection of the Cross of Sacrifice and Stone of Remembrance, with contracts placed for constructional work at a further six, of which the largest is Brookwood with about 3,100 graves.
In Canada where there are some 6,000 graves, the Commission requested that the Canadian Government act as their Agency, with an Order in Council naming the Minister of Militia and Defence as the Commission’s representative in Canada, the Agency thus established was extended to include the United States and Siberia. The New Zealand Government have appointed a New Zealand Expeditionary Force War Graves Committee to deal with the war graves in that country. In India the Governor-General in Council has been appointed the Agency of the Imperial War Graves Commission, with an Advisory Committee under the presidency of Major-General the Honourable Sir A.H. Bingley, K.C.I.E., C.B. at Army Headquarters.
Brief summaries of the extent of the Commission’s commitment in the Crown Colonies (Gibraltar, Malta, the West Indies, Cyprus, Tsingtao, Hong Kong, Samoa, Cameroons, Nigeria and West Africa etc.); and in other countries (Holland, Switzerland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Spain, Russia, Persia and Kurdistan, Poland, Finland, Estonia and Latvia, the countries of North Africa and of South America, and Germany).
The taking over of the Registrar’s Branch, and United Kingdom and Effects Sections, of the War Office Directorate in London by a new department of the Commission under the Director of Records; statistical summaries of completed final verification forms received from the next-of-kin; of new cards made correcting previous information or embodying fresh information; of new registrations notified to the next-of-kin and letters sent out in response to enquiries from them.
Appendix A – Accounts, 1918-1919 (Imperial War Graves Commission in account with H.M. Treasury);
Appendix B – Statement of Cash Payments from 1st April 1920 to 31st March 1921;
Appendix C – Percentages of Contributory Governments;
Appendix D – Statement of Total Expenditure from 1st April 1920 to 31st March 1921;
Appendix E – Fund for the Care and Maintenance of the Graves of the Fallen;
Appendix F – Headstone Personal Inscriptions Account.