|Content Note||Topics covered:|
The Chairman gave an opening address as it was his first time in the role and welcomed other first-time attendees.
The deaths of Generale di Corpo d’Armata Pietro Tolomeo (Commissioner-General of the Commissariato Generale Onoranze Caduti in Guerra), and official member of the Commonwealth-Italian Joint Committee from 1977-1984; and also of the former official Commissioners: the Rt Hon John Silkin (former Minister of Public Building and Works) and Sir James Plimsoll (former High Commissioner for Australia) were reported.
reported that Miss N D Theron had succeeded Mr A W Kuhn on the Commission’s South African Agency as the nominee of the Director-General of the Department of Foreign Affairs
Honours and Awards:
It was reported that the Hon Douglas McClelland had been awarded the Companion of the Order of Australia and Sir John Blelloch the KCB in the recent Birthday Honours list and that Mr Claude Reilly, Professional and Technology Officer, France had been awarded the BEM.
Matters arising from the minutes of the 568th Meeting:
an update was given as to the work required to graves in the German Democratic Republic (GDR) following the signing of the War Graves Agreement in April, with specific mention of Berlin South-West Cemetery, Stahnsdorf and the Institut fur Kommunalwirtschaft; and update on the proposed re-siting of 90 war graves, Cross of Sacrifice and Hindu Cremation Memorial in the cemetery in Mosul, Iraq due to a road-widening scheme.
Commonwealth War Graves Commission Superannuation Scheme (1952) – Early Retirement with Actuarially Reduced Benefits; Equal Survivors Benefits; Improved Death Benefits
presentation of three papers regarding proposed amendments to the rules of the CWGC Superannuation Scheme (CWGCSS) to maintain equivalence with the Principal Civil Service Pension Scheme (PCSPS) and to allow staff to draw a reduced pension from age 50; to place female members of the CWGCSS on equal footing with their male counterparts with regards to survivor benefits, and that contributions would therefore also be equalised; and to bring the CWGCSS into line with the PCSPS with regards death benefits. All three were approved and the Trustees requested these changes be implemented.
Report of the 608th Meeting of the Finance Committee:
A report of the 608th meeting of the Finance Committee was presented, with specific mention of the changes to the CWGCSS; the order of 100 historical notices for installation at major Commission sites around the world; the problems encountered in the attempted repairs to the entrance shelter at New Irish Farm Cemetery in Belgium; and the writing-off of the loss of money stolen from a clerk in Turkey who was working on the Commission’s behalf.
Appointment of a Proper Officer:
The succession of Mr William Symons OBE by Mr David Kennedy as a Proper Officer in the Commission was approved.
Imperial War Graves Endowment Fund: Appointment of New Trustee:
Appreciation of his service was expressed to Mr Michael Welman who was stepping down as a Trustee of the Imperial War Graves Endowment Fund after thirteen years of service.
Report on the Eighth Meeting of the Commonwealth-Italian Joint Committee:
presentation of report on the eighth meeting of the Commonwealth-Italian Joint Committee in Rome. In addition to the business meetings, wreaths were laid at the tomb of the Unknown Warrior at the Vittoriano, a ceremony was held at Rome War Cemetery, and a field day was held at Cassino War Cemetery.
Commonwealth-Foreign Joint Committee – Appointment of Member:
attention was drawn to the appointment of Hi Excellency Sir Ewen Fergusson KCMG, British Ambassador to France, as a member of the Commonwealth-French Joint Committee.
Burials and commemorations:
paper presented which listed 40 war graves in the United Kingdom marked by private memorials which had had additional family burials in them, thus rendering them outside the Commission’s control. A second paper provided detail of five war graves in the United Kingdom where the war dead were commemorated on private memorials which had disappeared during cemetery clearances and the name of one war dead which was not inscribed on the family memorial marking the grave, with approval of alternative commemoration for all six.
Tours by Commissioners and Head Office officials:
Lady McFarlane spoke of her visit to Stanley Military Cemetery and Sai Wan Bay War Cemetery in Hong Kong, noting that both sites were in excellent condition, but that there was a crack in the base of the Cross of Sacrifice at Stanley and the directional signposting for Sai Wan was inadequate.
Major General Smith reported on a tour of Southern England, with specific mention of Brookwood Military Cemetery, Runnymede Memorial (where he had observed some of the repainting of the ceiling panels), and Portsmouth Naval Memorial (where he had noted some vandalism and effects of the salt-laden air on the horticulture). He had also visited other urban cemeteries and country churchyards, noting disparity in their upkeep. The Secretary replied how some of the greatest difficulties that faced the Commission were from burials in the United Kingdom. New guidelines had been circulated to Commission District Inspectors and the situation was being kept under review.
Mr Concannon reported on a visit to Commission sites in the Netherlands and the Federal Republic of Germany in the company of Sir Miles Wingate, commenting on the high standards encountered. He had also visited a Dutch and German war cemetery.
The Secretary reported on his tour of northern France, including visits to the Somme, Arras, Normandy and the Île de France areas, noting the generally high standards, but commenting that some of the turf and border planting appeared thin, and stating that the Director of Horticulture was arranging trail plantings to assess the use of certain organic material and chemicals. The Secretary also commented on some structural problems encountered, with specific mention of the Australian National Memorial at Villers-Bretonneux, where the internal staircase had shown some signs of fracturing.
The Chairman reported on his visits to Thiepval (to mark the 70th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme), Kanchanaburi War Cemetery in Thailand, and Kranji War Cemetery in Singapore. He also reported on a visit to Gallipoli for Anzac Day, where he met the Deputy Prime Minister of Australia and had participated in ceremonies at the Turkish and Commonwealth memorials on the peninsular.
Sir David Williams reported on a visit to Cyprus and Greece made with the President HRH The Duke of Kent. Specific mentions of Nicosia War Cemetery, located in no man’s land between the Turkish and Greek Cypriot lines, where maintenance had been a problem for many years, but where a water supply had recently been provided by the Royal Engineers. They had also visited Rhodes War Cemetery and Suda Bay Cemetery, commenting on the immaculate appearance of both. At Phaleron War Cemetery and the Athens Memorial the President had lain a wreath in the presence of Ambassadors of three of the Commission’s member governments. He also visited the Dorian Memorial and met the Indian Ambassador at Monastir Road Indian Cemetery.
Major General Smith reported on a pilgrimage of Canadian veterans, led by the Minister of Veterans Affairs, to the Western Front in commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the capture of Vimy Ridge. He had also arranged for the Minister to visit the Commission’s workshops at Beaurains.
The War Cemeteries and graves act in Papua New Guinea was now on the statute books; renaming of the North West Area Group to Northern Europe Area; design of new Commission tie approved and now for sale to Commissioners, Commissioners’ representatives and staff; thanks were given to Brigadier Nambiar for his contribution to the work of the Commission as this may be his last meeting; the Chairman reported that this would be the last meeting Mr Symons would attend before his retirement. The meeting thanked him for his contribution and wished him well.
The Rt Hon George Younger TD DL MP (Chairman of the Commission) in the chair
Admiral Sir David Williams GCB DL (Vice-Chairman of the Commission)
His Excellency the Hon Douglas McClelland AC (High Commissioner for Australia)
His Excellency Mr Rae Killen (Ambassador of the Republic of South Africa)
Sir Edward Gardner QC
Sir Donald Maitland GCMG OBE
Professor the Baroness McFarlane of Llandaff
Major General Desmond Smith CBE DSO CD
The Rt Hon J D Concannon
Mr Christopher Chope OBE MP (Representing the Secretary of State for the Environment in the United Kingdom)
Mr J Rowsome (Representing the High Commissioner for Canada)
Brigadier S Nambiar VrC (Representing the High Commissioner for the Republic of India)
Mr R Kirikiri (Representing the High Commissioner for New Zealand)
Professor Sir Peter Shepheard CBE BArch PPRIBA MRTPI PPILA, (Honorary Artistic Adviser)
Professor E A Bell PhD FLS CChem FRSC, (Honorary Botanical Adviser)
Sir Arthur Hockaday KCB CMG, (Director-General)
Also in attendance:
Sir John Blelloch KCB, (Ministry of Defence in the United Kingdom)
Mr M O’Sullivan, (Department of the Environment in the United Kingdom)
Mr J Saynor JP, (Assistant Secretary, Deputy Director-General (Administration))
Mr W J Symons OBE, (Assistant Secretary, Deputy Director-General (Operations))
Mr N B Osborn FRICS, (Director of Works)
Mr G C Reddie, (Legal Adviser and Solicitor)
Mr D Kennedy, (Director of Personnel)
Mr R J Dalley, (Director of Secretariat)
Mr P J Noakes BSc (Hort), (Director of Horticulture)
Mr D Ball, (Assistant Private Secretary to Secretary of State for Defence in the United Kingdom)
Mr M Barnett, (Private Secretary to Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of the Environment in the United Kingdom)
Mr H Mackay, (Senior Executive Officer (Secretariat))
Mrs M E Meads, (Senior Executive Officer (Secretariat) (designate))
Mr S T Bell, (Secretariat)