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it was announced that His Excellency The Hon Donald Macdonald had been appointed Canadian High Commissioner, that Admiral Sir Nicholas Hunt had been appointed a Member of the Commission, that Mr Andrew Palmer had been appointed as Private Secretary to His Royal Highness The Duke of Kent, and that General M O Ferruccio Brandi, Commissioner-General of the Commissariato Generale Onoranze Caduti in Guerra, had retired.
Madame Francoise Houvin, Senior Executive Officer (Administration) in the Commission France Area had been awarded an MBE.
it was reported that Sir Douglas Carter, who had been High Commissioner for New Zealand in London, and ex-officio a Commissioner, had died. It was also reported that six serving members of staff had died: Mr Massoud Matouk Ali, Gardener at Benghazi War Cemetery, Libya, ; Mr G Desormeaux of the Dieppe/Le Havre Mobile Group, France; Mr L A Marie of the Bayeux Mobile Group, France; Mr Haniee Hazim Gergis, Gardener at Mosul War Cemetery, Iraq; Mr M Groux, Bethune Mobile Group, France; and Mr Zaki Barcham, Local Supervisor in Iraq.
Matters Arising from the Minutes of the 574th Meeting:
it was reported that the financial memorandum had now been agreed and signed by all parties, with the Secretary being appointed a supporting accounting officer in respect of the British government's grant-in-aid to the Commission; a preliminary report and budget estimate of proposals to strengthen the internal staircase at the Australian National Memorial, Villers-Brettonneux, had been sent to the Minister of Veteran's Affairs, Canberra, to be approved by the Australian government; a contract for reconstructing the caretaker's quarters at Gaza War Cemetery had been concluded; the Secretary had attended a meeting in Tanzania, with Mr Ben Moses (Deputy Principal Secretary in the office of the Prime Minister and First Vice-President), the Deputy Director of the Outer Area, the British and Indian High Commissioners, and the Acting Canadian High Commissioner, and discussions were held on the funding for the day-to-day maintenance of Commission sites in Tanzania, with a letter to be sent to Mr Moses to confirm the arrangements; Mr Roger Shipton, a Member of the Australian Parliament had recently visited the Gallipoli peninsula and had been concerned about the risks of undesirable development, echoing concerns of the Commission, and had been in touch with the Turkish Ambassador in Canberra about it.
Appointment of Secretary and Director-General
notice of the appointment of Mr J Saynor as Secretary and Director-General of the Commission following the retirement of Sir Arthur Hockaday;
Annual Estimates of Expenditure – 1988-89 (Revised) and 1989-90
presentation of paper in which it was noted that for the first time the Commission would be purchasing its requirements of French francs by way of a cylinder option, which allowed the price to fluctuate between specified floor and ceiling prices, with a list of benefits gained, followed by a discussion about annual estimates of expenditure, and approval of the revised and initial estimates;
Irrigation at Phaleron War Cemetery, Greece:
presentation of paper on the need to install a modern replacement irrigation system at Phaleron War Cemetery and discussion of the tender and quotes received for the work, with approval for the project to proceed
Report of the 613th Meeting of the Finance Committee:
adoption of report and approval of its recommendations
Commonwealth War Graves in the Republic of Ireland:
presentation of paper on the maintenance of war graves in the Republic of Ireland, noting difficulties in assuring adequate maintenance, problems with sites in depopulated rural areas and in particular derelict churchyards of the Church of Ireland, and comment that there may be an increased need for alternative commemorations in the future, but for now continual monitoring was required;
Burials and Commemorations:
approval for the classification of seventeen graves in the UK as not being within the Commission's control and eleven war graves in the UK for alternative commemoration; also suggestion that a brief on the issues with the maintenance of war graves in the United Kingdom be prepared for Commissioners so that they would have authoritative information to hand should they be approached by the press, which the Secretary agreed to arrange
Commonwealth-Tunisia War Graves Agreement:
an update, with history, on the long-standing attempts to conclude a war graves agreement with the Tunisian government;
Commonwealth-Foreign Joint Committees – Appointment of Members
appointments to Commonwealth-Foreign Joint Committees were approved, including the Japanese and Italian Joint Committees;
Tours by Commissioners and Head Office Officials:
Miss Fookes had visited the Commission's Canadian Agency offices in Ottowa and learned much about its work. There was a discussion about the scattered sites, small staff, and the high standards of cemetery care in Canada and the US. Miss Fookes had also visited the Malta Memorial, and commented on the good condition of it and the unsightly condition of the surrounding gardens, which were not the Commission’s responsibility.
Major General Smith had visited Salerno War Cemetery while on holiday in Italy, and commented that the site was well maintained, but that due to the recent removal of diseased trees more screening of the adjoining development was needed at the site.
Sir Nigel Mobbs had visited the Far East and Australia. He commented on conditions and issues at several cemeteries including Kranji War Cemetery, Singapore (where the need for denser screening from surrounding development and clearer signposting was needed); Yokohama War Cemetery, Japan (where the stonework needed attention); the cemeteries in Thailand (where high levels of tourist visits had worn the turf in some areas); Sydney War Cemetery and Springvale War Cemetery (where a problem with the grass was noted).
Sir Robert Ford had visited Cyprus and Egypt, and commented on the care of the war graves at Limassol which was undertaken on a voluntary basis by former British service officers living in retirement on the island. He had met Royal West Kent Regiment Veterans, after their return from a visit to Leros War Cemetery, Greece. In Egypt he had represented the Commission at the ceremony in El Alamein War Cemetery marking the anniversary of the Battle of El Alamein, which was attended by 2000 members of the public, including many war widows and veterans from the Commonwealth, Germany and Italy. The Secretary added that he had visited Waynes Keep Military Cemetery with Sir Robert and that the site was now in the process of rehabilitation after many years of enforced neglect due to its situation in the buffer zone between Greek and Turkish lines.
attention was drawn to the considerable publicity the Commission had received over Remembrancetide, largely as a result of the 70th anniversary of the 1918 Armistice, with film sequences shot at Le Cateau Military Cemetery, Ors Communal Cemetery and Steenbergen Churchyard, together with archival footage of El Alamein and Chungkai War Cemetery appearing in a BBC1 programme, and other segments showing veterans visiting war cemeteries appearing on the BBC and ITN news, and interviews with Commission gardeners working in France and Belgium appearing on the Songs of Praise programme. The President was present in Ieper, to mark the 70th anniversary of the Armistice and inspected the reconstructed entrance shelter at New Irish Farm Cemetery. Mr Concannon had attended the annual ceremony at Cannock Chase German Military Cemetery which had been organised by the German Embassy.
including notice that a planning application had been received for part of the City of Westminster (Paddington) Cemetery, Mill Hill, and the Commission had lodged a request for adequate screening and were still awaiting funds pledged when the three cemeteries were sold; the meeting listened to a Remembrance Day Broadcast given by Admiral Sir David Williams; and notice that a shorthand writer would not be used at future Commission and Finance Committee meetings, with expressions of thanks to the Gurneys firm for many years of excellent service, and presentation of book to Mrs Susan Hussey, the shorthand writer present.
Air Chief Marshal Sir John Gingell, GBE, KCB
Captain Sir Miles Wingate, KCVO
Major-General Desmond Smith, CBE, DSO, CD
The Rt. Hon. J.D. Concannon
Miss Janet Fookes, MP
Sir Derek Day, KCMG
Sir Nigel Mobbs, DL
Mr K.C. Macdonald, CB (Representing the Secretary of State for Defence in the United Kingdom)
Mr R.G.S. Johnston (Representing the Secretary of State for the Environment in the United Kingdom)
Mr T. Boehm (Representing the High Commissioner for Canada)
Brigadier H.M. Khanna (Representing the High Commissioner for the Republic of India)
Brigadier R.J. Andrews, OBE (Representing the High Commissioner for New Zealand)
Mr R.F.W. Davis (Representing the Ambassador of the Republic of South Africa)
Professor Sir Peter Shepheard, CBE, BArch, PPRIBA, MRTPI, PPILA (Honorary Artistic Adviser)
Sir Arthur Hockaday, KCB, CMG (Director-General)
Also in attendance:
Mr J. Saynor, JP, (Assistant Secretary, Deputy Director-General (Operations))
Mr D. Kennedy, (Assistant Secretary, Deputy Director-General (Administration))
Mr N.B. Osborn, FRICS (Director of Works)
Mr G.C. Reddie (Legal Adviser and Solicitor)
Mr T.F. Penfold (Director of Personnel)
Mr R.J. Dalley (Director of Secretariat)
Mr P.J. Noakes BSc MIHort, (Director of Horticulture)
Mr R.D. Wilson, ACMA (Director of Finance)
Mrs M.E. Meads (Senior Executive Officer (Secretariat))
Mr S.T. Bell (Secretariat)