Unique IDCWGC/2/2/1/545
TitleCOMMISSION MEETING NO.545 - June 1981


DescriptionMinutes of the 545th Meeting of the Commission.
Content NoteTopics covered:

Chairman noted that Mr Garland had taken up the appointment of Australian High Commissioner in London in succession to Sir James Plimsoll, and that The Hon L. H. Barnard had been nominated as the Director, Office of Australian War Graves, to succeed Mr Macdonald;

Birthday Honours List:
Mr Pallot appointed CB and Mr Moustafa Aly Hassan, former head gardener at the Alexandra Hadra War Cemetery was awarded the BEM after 50 years of service;

Deaths in Service:
announcement of the deaths in service of Mr Darvill, Head Gardener at the German Military Cemetery, Cannock Chase; Monsieur Carouge, gardener of the Étaples Static Group; and Signor Morani, gardener at Ancona War Cemetery;

Minutes of the 544th Meeting:
minutes were approved and the following matters arising were noted - the new Secretary of the South African Agency, Captain du Preez, had been on a familiarisation visit to Europe and had visited Head Office; report on progress made on France Area accommodation building, with comments from Professor Sir Peter Shepheard; update on threat to cemeteries in Libya, as a result of the Gaddafi regime’s request for the cemeteries to be moved, with comments that the British and Indian Ambassadors in Tripoli, as well as other participating governments, would jointly resist the request, and query as to what had happened to the Italian graves in Libya, which it was confirmed had been moved some years ago to Bari where there was a large cemetery used by the Italian authorities for commemorating overseas casualties; report on recent visit made by Mr Nelson, Area Director, to Iraq, with note that he had been able to move around freely except to Basra Memorial and Habbaniya War Cemetery, which were both in restricted areas, and that Ma’asker-Al-Raschid RAF Cemetery had only been viewed from a nearby road. It was further noted that the gardeners still had access to Basra Memorial and Ma’asker, but that Habbaniya was barred to them, but that conditions in other cemeteries was fair, although none of the horticultural improvements proposed the previous year had been carried out, and reference that the use of Baghdad (North Gate) Cemetery by Iraqi troops had virtually ceased; report on the situation in Turkey regarding proposed developments on the Gallipoli peninsular involving the construction by the Turkish authorities of museums, information centres, and improvements to infrastructure to cater for thousands of tourists, with note that this would lead, as anticipated, to a change in the peaceful and remote character of the area. Mr Paton spoke of a recent visit he had made to Gallipoli, commenting on the development of horticulture at the cemeteries along the lines laid down by Sir George Taylor, using indigenous plants, and suggesting that the Commission should be hesitant about cutting down any trees which had been planted by the Turkish authorities in the area as they may be useful to preserve the quietness of the cemeteries; update on the proposed United Kingdom/German Democratic Republic War Graves Agreement, with comment that further negotiations were now urgent as visas had been refused to Commission staff due to be sent from Belgium to carry out maintenance in Stahnsdorf Cemetery; report that not enough progress had been made to allow letters to be signed during the visit of the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea to London, but that legislation had ow been produced to allow the exchange of letters to take place; report on cemeteries in Burma, and that the comment attributed by Mr Bottomley to the Ambassador in Burma did not relate to the Commonwealth war cemeteries, but to civil and earlier military burial sites, in particular the old cemetery at Mandalay which dated from the 1885 operations in the third Burmese war;

Report of the 586th meeting of the Finance Committee:
the report was adopted after discussion on the following: report on the Brookwood (Russia) Memorial, which the Commission had decided to construct following the abortive trip by Mr Kennedy, Director of Outer Area to Archangel in the Soviet Union as permission was withdrawn at the last minute, with description of the planned design and materials to be used for the memorial; report on the extension of the current contract for the supply of Botticino headstones from a firm in Italy;

Commonwealth War Graves Commission Superannuation Scheme (1952): Amendment to the Rules:
approval of minor amendment to the rules of the scheme;

General Fund:
presentation of paper reviewing whether any ways could be found in which donations and legacies to the Commission could be used for clearly identifiable purposes rather than being absorbed into the General Fund, with conclusion that the Commission was empowered to use the fund for any purpose within the constraints of the Charters, but that there was not much practical alternative to its current method of use, which, following discussion and comments by the Commissioners present, was agreed;

Membership of the Finance Committee:
Admiral Sir David Williams GCB appointed a member of the Finance Committee following General Thomas’s retirement;

Service Cemeteries in Malta:
presentation of paper concerning service cemeteries in Malta and recent articles which had been published in the 'Daily Telegraph' and 'the Sun' regarding a possible threat to the cemeteries made by Dom Mintoff, Prime Minister of Malta, and reference to his raising of the matter with Lord Carrington;

Threat to Rangoon War Cemetery:
presentation of paper on the threat to Rangoon War Cemetery in Burma, which the Commission had resisted for eight years, and discussion about the current course of action open to the Commission, which was to reiterate its policy that war graves should not be disturbed unless they were required to be moved for some urgent public need, which was also the wording used in the protocols to the Geneva Convention;

Swords for Crosses of Sacrifice:
presentation of paper on proposed replacement materials for swords on Crosses of Sacrifice, and approval that in places where it had proved impracticable to maintain a bronze or simulated bronze sword due to the threat of theft, a GRP simulated stone sword could be used;

Vandalism: Removal of Paint from Headstones:
report on the difficulties involved in removing paint from headstones;

Seventh Meeting of the Commonwealth-French Joint Committee:
report by the Chairman on the recent Field Day and working meeting, which had been a very successful occasion;

Nineteenth Meeting of the Commonwealth-Japanese Joint Committee:
meeting had been held when Mr Matthew and the Director Outer Area had been on a recent tour of the Far East, with members of the Committee visiting Yokohama War Cemetery, and it had been agreed that in future the meetings should be held every five years. At the end of the Joint Committee meeting a Special Committee met to discuss the post-war plot in Yokohama Cemetery , which was owned separately from the rest of the site by the governments of the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, and the policy on entitlement to burial in the plot;

Commonwealth-Foreign Joint Committees - Appointment of Members:
appointments of Mr B.M. Brown, Deputy High Commissioner, New Zealand High Commission, London to the Commonwealth-Italian Joint Committee, and Mr R.H. Robertson, Deputy High Commissioner, Australian High Commission, London to the Commonwealth-Netherlands Joint Committee;

Graves not within the Commission’s Control – United Kingdom:
approval of the classification of 71 war graves in the UK as ‘not within the Commission’s control’;

Execution of Documents:
confirmation of execution of documents, including those related to the sale of the Arras office premises;

report on the visit by Mr Stanley, Minister of Housing and Construction, to France and Flanders, where he had visited 23 cemeteries and lain wreaths at the Menin Gate and at the Australian Memorial at Villers-Bretonneux during the Anzac day service, and visited the Arras workshops. Mr Stanley had also visited Sai Wan Bay War Cemetery while on a delegation to Hong Kong, and Mr Finsberg, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State was reported to have visited the cemeteries in Cyprus.
report by Admiral Sir David Williams on his recent visit to Italy, Malta, Tunisia, and Algeria, with comment on high morale of the staff he had met. Specific mentions of visits to Rome War Cemetery (mentioning problems with gypsies camping outside the cemetery), Naples War Cemetery (where there were problems with motorcycles being ridden in the cemetery, and with picnickers, tea vendors and drug pushers), Cassino War Cemetery, Beja War Cemetery (mentioning vandalism and graffiti on headstones linked to high rise flats which had been built close to the cemetery), Medjez-el-Bab and Enfidaville War Cemetery (where problems with salt attacking the headstones was noted), Massicault War Cemetery and La Reunion War Cemetery;

Other Business:
renaming of the ‘Re-organisation Sub-Committee’ to ‘Organisation Sub-Committee’ to avoid implication of perpetual re-organisation, and acceptance by Admiral Sir David Williams of invitation to serve on the Sub-Committee; reference that this was the last meeting that Mr Cheater would be attending as Director of Information Services and he would be taking up duties in Rome as the Area Director; and note that there had not been time to speak on HMS Edinburgh, General Sikorski, the situation in Lebanon or the Hill 62 Museum of Peace.

Air Chief Marshal Sir John Barraclough KCB CBE DFC AFC FRSA (Vice-chairman of the Commission) in the Chair
Sir Arthur Hockaday KCB CMG, Representing the Secretary of State for Defence
Mr R A Gomme, Representing the Minister of Housing and Construction
Mr G A Cowley, Representing the High Commissioner for Canada
Mr R H Robertson, Representing the High Commissioner for Australia
Commodore J O’H Tobin RNZN, Representing the High Commissioner for New Zealand
Mr A E van Niekerk, Representing the Ambassador of South Africa
Sir Robert Black GCMG OBE
Miss Joan Woodgate CBE RRC
Sir John Winnifrith KCB
Lord Wallace of Coslany
Sir Edward Goschen Bt DSO
Admiral Sir David Williams GCB
General Sir Robert Ford GCB CBE

Mr A K Pallot CMG, Director-General

Mr Peter A Scott BSc FICE, Honorary Consulting Engineer
Professor Sir Peter Shepheard CBE BArch PPRIBA MRTPI PPILA, Artistic Adviser

Also present:
Mr A S Laing CBE MVO, Assistant Secretary, Deputy Director-General
Mr P R Matthew, Assistant Secretary, Assistant Director-General (Operations)
Mr J Saynor, Assistant Secretary, Assistant Director-General (Administration)
Mr I E Morgan, Legal Adviser and Solicitor
Mr W H Dukes OBE, Director of Works
Mr J B Paton NDH, Director of Horticulture
MR P H M Swan, Director of External Relations
Mr H Westland MIPM, Establishment Officer
Mr W J Symons, Chief Finance Officer
Mr G A Cheater, Director of Information Services
Mr D Kennedy, Director, Outer Area
Mr S G Campbell MC, Director of Information Services designate
Mr J P Gee, Secretariat
Date11/6/1981 - 11/6/1981
Extent1 file
CategoryMeeting Notes
ArchNotePlease note that the downloadable document is the final version of the Committee Meeting minutes. Additional information, including the verbatim minutes and subsidiary reports, may be available in the physical file.
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