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Mr G A Cowley
Welcome extended to Mr G.A. Cowley who was representing the High Commissioner for Canada for the first time.
The Commission’s Administrative Organisation
Approval of changes to the Commission's Administrative Organisation, including the following appointments:
Mr A.S. Laing MVO as Deputy Director-General
Mr P.R. Matthew BA as Assistant Director-General (Operations)
Mr I. E. Morgan as Legal Adviser and Solicitor
Mr R H Noyes Roberts
Announcement that Mr R.H. Noyes Roberts had been posted back to Canada.
M. Chouard, Mr Katayama and Mr Mohamed El Arabi
Announcement of the death in service of three of the Commission's staff: M. Chouard a part-time gardener in France, Mr Katayama, a gardener in Japan, and Mr Mohamed El Arabi, a gardener in Egypt.
Presidents Diederichs and Kenyatta
Note that the Legal Adviser and Solicitor had signed the Books of Condolence on behalf of the Commission at the South African Embassy and the Kenyan High Commission following the deaths of Presidents Diederichs and Kenyatta.
Mr J Hutton
Announcement that Mr John Hutton, an artist of great distinction in the design and execution of the engraving of glass, who had been responsible for the windows at the Runnymede and Dunkirk Memorials, had died at the end of July.
Flood Disaster in India
Mention from the Chairman regarding appalling loss of life following the flooding of the Ganges and Jamuna rivers.
Matters Arising from the Minutes of the 533rd Meeting
a) Update on Historical Notices in Cemeteries where it had been decided that notices should be sited within the cemeteries - even where there was a long approach path from the highway - and that they should be fixed to the entrance structure or, if that were not possible, be free standing but as close to the entrance as possible and note made of the names of architects or sculptors.
b) Report that the exhumation of the remains from Takoradi African Public Cemetery and their reinterment in Christiansborg War Cemetery, Accra, had been completed during the previous week, with much help from the Ghanaian Army who had provided all labour and materials, although all the 83 headstones would need to be replaced.
c) Admission of Members of the 1926 Superannuation Scheme to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Superannuation Scheme (1952).
d) Acceptance of the proposition for Election of a member as a Trustee of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Superannuation Scheme (1952).
e) Update on the status of Pakistan's decision to withdraw from Membership of the Commission and note that the Commission's invitation to rejoin was still open.
59th Annual Report and Statement of Accounts
Approval of the 59th Annual Report and Statement of Accounts of the Commission for the year ended 31 March 1978.
Adoption of the Report of the 575th Meeting of the Finance Committee
Approval in principle of the proposal to dispose of the premises at Place du Marechal Foch, Arras, and to provide accommodation for all the centrally based staff of France Area on one new site at Beaurains.
Approval of proposals for changes to pay rates of United Kingdom based manual staff to be put before their Union.
Discussion of employers liability insurance with the decision that the Commission should continue to carry the risk; Update on expenditure on the rehabilitation of Kantara War Memorial Cemetery which had been damaged during the Arab-Israel conflict.
Announcement of the introduction from 1st January 1978 of new rates of pay for the Director-General in line with those for the comparable grade in the Civil Service, with the increase to be phased over two years.
Situation in Iraq
Members agreement that Mr Matthews suggested approach to the situation in Iraq, where the Iraqi Government wanted to review the existing War Graves Agreement with a view to facilitating their taking over the maintenance of the War Cemeteries in Iraq, to the exclusion of the Commission, was on the right lines, and the Agreement be brought more into line in this respect with the Commission's other agreements in the hope that this would present a rather more acceptable basis to the Iraqi Government.
Rangoon War Cemetery
Members agreement that the action taken by the Secretary in writing to each of the Participating Governments' representatives bringing them up-to-date on the situation in Burma where the Burmese had demanded the removal of Rangoon War Cemetery was the right course of action.
Headstones in Tunisia and Libya
Update on the replacement of deteriorating headstones in Tunisia and Libya with Botticino stone as this had proved more durable in the climate of the Mediterranean area.
Commonwealth-Foreign Joint Committees: Appointment of Members
Commonwealth-French Joint Committee:
His Excellency Mr J R Rowland (Australian Ambassador, Paris)
Commonwealth-Italian Joint Committee:
His Excellency Mr A K Damodran (Indian Ambassador, Rome)
Commonwealth-Japanese Joint Committee:
Mr Kiyohiko Arafune Director, Second West-Europe Division Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Mr Takashi Abe Director, National Property Inspection Division Ministry of Finance
Unmaintainable Graves – Great Northern London Cemetery, East Barnet
Approval of the proposal to commemorate one burial of the 1914-1918 War in Great Northern London Cemetery, East Barnet by the addition of his name to the existing Screen Wall in the same cemetery.
Execution of Documents
Confirmation of the action for the execution by the Commission or on its behalf of the documents, Serial Nos Part I 548 and 549 and Part 11 146 and 147, referred to in the Schedule now laid before the Meeting and signed for identification by the Commission's Legal Adviser and Solicitor.
Report from the Chairman on his visit to 9 Commission cemeteries and plots in Brittany, virtually all found to be maintained to a very high standard, and his additional visit to Bayeux War Cemetery. Report from Professor Brenan on his visit to France and North West Europe Areas, where he had found neatness and serenity and cemeteries tended with more than loving care whether by British or locally engaged staff.
Report from Admiral Sir Frank Twiss on his visit to France and Italy where he had visited the Thiepval Memorial, and in the south of France had visited several French Military Cemeteries containing the graves of Commonwealth casualties, and a large number of communal cemeteries, along with a visit to the island called Porquerolles, where they had found the cemetery to be in good order.
Reminder to Members that the Gardeners' Service would be held in Westminster Abbey at noon on Friday 10 November.
Note that the usual Remembrance Day broadcast at 10:25 on Radio 4 would be, for the first time, by a woman, who was a widow of the 1914-18 War and who had also lost her brother in the 1939-45 War.
Note that the King George VI Memorial, Cervaro near Cassino had been cleaned by the local authority, renovated, and fenced by the Italian War Graves Organisation.
Note that Mr Sam Mezhur, Group Supervisor for Assam and based on Kohima, was present at Head Office on a special visit and would be joining Members for lunch, with wine supplied by New Zealand.
General Sir Noel Thomas KCB DSO MC (Vice-Chairman of the Commission), in the Chair
Mr G. A. Cowley (Representing the High Commissioner for Canada)
Mr B.J. Lynch (Representing the High Commissioner for New Zealand)
Mr T.F. Wheeler (Representing the Ambassador of South Africa)
Lt Col R.N. Pandit VSM (Representing the High Commissioner for India)
Mr P.C. Aggleton (Representing the Minister for Housing and Construction)
Miss Joan Woodgate CBE RRC
Admiral Sir Frank Twiss KCB KCVO DSC
Mr Edward Gardner QC MP
Air Chief Marshal Sir John Barraclough KCB CBE DFC AFC
Sir Edward Goschen Bt DSO
Mr A.K. Pallot CMG (Director-General)
Mr P.A. Scott BSc FICE (Honorary Consulting Engineer)
Professor J.P.M. Brenan MA BSc FLS FIBiol (Honorary Botanical Adviser)
There were also present (except during Item 1):
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 Adviser and Solicitor)
Mr W.F.W. Harding OBE BSc (Hort) FLS (Director of Horticulture)
Mr P.H.M. Swan (Director of External Relations)
Mr P.J. Cook (Chief Finance Officer)
Mr W.J. Symons (Administrator, Overseas Direct Administration Department)
Mr S.G. Campbell MC ARICS (Assistant Director of Works (Administration))
Mr T.A.E Gibson (Chief Records Officer)
Mr D.L. Ayers (Secretariat)