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On the proposal of Sir Frank Twiss and seconded by Mr Noyes Roberts, Sir Robert Black was elected unanimously to take the Chair in the Vice-Chairman’s absence.
New Year Honours List
Mr H J Sheppard, an Assistant Records Officer at Head Office, had been appointed MBE.
Mr T H R Heywood, a driver at Head Office, and Mr W F Worledge, a Gardener/Caretaker in North West Europe Area, had been awarded the BEM.
Mentions that Mr Heywood's medal and that awarded to Major Gibson by the Royal Humane Society, had been presented to them by the Vice-Lord Lieutenant of Berkshire on 1 March at Head Office.
Mr Paul Martin PC CC QC
Announcement that Mr Paul Martin, High Commissioner for Canada, had been made a companion of the Order of Canada.
Mr F M Sutherland
Report of the death in February of Mr F M Sutherland, a Pupil Gardener in North West Europe Area.
M. Rene Cassin
Report of the death, also in February, of M. Rene Cassin, who had been a distinguished member of the Commonwealth-French Joint Committee since 1959.
Visit by President to France
Mention that His Royal Highness The Duke of Kent, in his capacity as President of the Commission, would visit cemeteries and memorials in France (Normandy, Pas-de-Calais and Somme) between 12 and 14 May.
Minutes of the 523rd Meeting of the Commission
Circulation, signing and agreement of the minutes.
Matters arising from the minutes:
a) Membership of the Commission: an update on Pakistan’s membership.
b) Liverpool Memorial: mentions agreement on design and completion of feasibility study.
c) Rangoon War Cemetery: Update on the proposed move.
d) Economy Measures: Refers to update since meeting in December concerning strategy for a three per cent reduction in expenditure.
e) Head Office Air Conditioning System: Update on the work of the sub-contractors in taking temperatures and making adjustments, and costs of adjustments.
Report of the 565th Meeting of the Finance Committee
Item 1 of the Report was a standard item which appeared at each March meeting and gave authority to the Secretary and Director-General to employ staff and approve expenditure within certain limits in the carryinq out of the Commission's work.
Item 2 proposed improvements to the inadequate pre-war heating system at the France Area Office.
Items 3 to 8 reported over expenditure on authorised projects.
Item 10 concerned an increase in the establishment of staff by two in respect of two gardeners to maintain the newly constructed post-war cemetery adjacent to Kranji War Cemetery.
Item 11 dealt with the promotion of Mr Talman from Higher Executive Officer to Senior Executive Officer.
Membership of the Finance Committee
Refers to the appointment of the High Commissioner for New Zealand as a member of the Finance Committee for a period of three years from 1 April 1976 vice the High Commissioner for Australia.
Agency of the Commission in Tanzania
Refers to the change in title and style of the Tanganyika Agency of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission to "The Tanzania Agency of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission", as well as the change of the Agency to the Prime Minister of Tanzania.
Appointment of Secretary-General, Canadian Agency
Refers to appointment of Brigadier-General P V B Grieve as Secretary-General for Canadian Agency.
Commonwealth-Foreign Joint Committees – Appointment of Members
Commonwealth-French Joint Committee:
Monsieur Claude Chayet (Directeur des Conventions Administratives et des Affaires Consulaires, Ministere des Affaires Etrangeres)
Commonwealth-Italian Joint Committee:
Dottoressa Enrica Fiandra (Inspector, Ministry for Environment and Cultural Heritage)
Commonwealth-Netherlands Joint Committee:
His Excellency Mr Robbert Fack (Netherlands Ambassador, London)
Annual Report Of Exhumations And Reinterments Carried Out In 1975
Mention it was the first time such a report was presented to the Commission with a reminder that it was a fundamental principle that war graves should not be disturbed except where it was impossible to maintain them by any reasonable means and alternative commemoration was not considered appropriate.
Bristol (St George) Churchyard
Confirmation of the action taken for the exhumation of the 2 war burials of the 1914-1918 War in the Bristol (St George) Churchyard and for their re-burial in Bristol (Greenbank) Cemetery.
Unmaintainable Graves – Dawley Magna (Holy Trinity) Churchyard, Salop
Mentions that a private headstone had been destroyed during a recent clearance scheme and it was proposed that the burial should be commemorated by a special memorial headstone in the same churchyard.
Unmaintainable Graves – Cholsey (St Mary) Churchyard, Oxfordshire
Mention that that the graves in question had been discovered in 1938 in a plot set aside for those dying in a nearby mental hospital and it was now proposed for the casualties to be commemorated on a single commemorative memorial to be erected elsewhere in the churchyard.
Unmaintainable Graves – Oxford (Osney St Mary) Cemetery, Oxfordshire
Refers to approval of the proposal to commemorate 3 burials of the 1914- 1918 War in Oxford (Osney St Mary) Cemetery by the erection of a single memorial, in the same cemetery.
Execution Of Documents
Refers to confirmation of the action for the execution by the Commission of the documents, Serial Nos Part I 517-525 inclusive, referred to in the Schedule now laid before the Meeting and signed for identification by the Commission's Legal Adviser and Solicitor.
Tehran War Cemetery and the Tehran Memorial
Refers to a report of recent structural maintenance at Tehran War Cemetery had presented major problems as a result of damage caused by frost and soluble salts, particularly to the dome of the shelter building, which was tiled in a Persian style. Brief discussion about suggestions of the material to be used for replacing the tiling on the dome.
Mentions 30 different types of stone had been used by the Commission, with Portland stone being the greatest number. Refers to adapting to increased use of Botticino limestone where climate was unsuitable for Portland stone or where production costs and other economic factors were concerned.
Mention of the project at Vimy Memorial and comments about three bronze beavers presented at the meeting which were to be placed near the flagpole as part of the improvement project.
Comments from Director of Horticulture about the nursery near Wancourt and replenishment of heathers lost through drought in the Netherlands.
Update on situation in Lebanon, where a rocket attack had damaged some 25 headstones in Beirut 1939-1945 War Cemetery and some vandalism reported in Sidon.
Mention that the Commission’s exhibition would open in Cardiff on 19 May and run until 6 June. The usual unmanned Exhibition would be on view at the Chelsea Show and this was arranged around the walls of the room for members to see.
The Sixth Meeting of the Commonwealth-French Joint Committee would take place early in June.
Report from Mr Aggleton on recent tour to Hong Kong, including comments about Stanley and Sai Wan cemeteries as well as transfer of burials from Happy Valley.
Report from Mr Symons on his recent visit to East Africa where he visited Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi and Zambia, meeting with officials and inspecting cemeteries.
Update from Mr Laing on the production of the Commission’s new film.
Mention of nearly 50 letters received by the Commission around Christmas.
Presentation at the meeting of a folder containing a first day cover and set of commemorative stamps which had been issued to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the Royal Canadian Legion.
Mention had Mr McDonald not been prevented from attending that day it would have been his last meeting as he had been posted back to Canberra.
The next meeting would be held on Thursday 17 June.
Sir Robert Black GCMG OBE, In The Chair
Mr R H Noyes Roberts (Representing the High Commissioner for Canada)
Mr D B G McLean (Representing the High Commissioner for New Zealand)
Mr J M Sterban (Representing the Ambassador of South Africa)
Mr P C Aggleton (Representing the Minister for Housing and Construction)
Admiral Sir Frank Twiss KCB DSC
Miss Joan Woodgate CBE RRC
Mr Edward Gardner QC MP
The Lord Wallace of Coslany
Mr A K Pallot CMG (Director-General)
There were also present:
Mr A S Laing MVO (Assistant Secretary, Assistant Director-General (Secretariat))
Mr J Saynor (Assistant Secretary, Assistant Director-General (Administration))
Mr P R Matthew BA (Assistant Secretary, Legal Advisor and Solicitor)
Mr W H Dukes (Director of Works)
Mr W F W Harding OBE BSc (Hort) FLS (Director of Horticulture)
Mr P H M Swan (Director of External Relations)
Mr H Westland MIPM (Establishment Officer)
Mr S G Campbell MC (Director of Information Services)
Mr W J Symons (Administrator, Overseas Direct Administration)
Mr D L Ayers (Secretariat)