Unique IDCWGC/2/2/1/576
TitleCOMMISSION MEETING NO.576 - March 1989


DescriptionMinutes of the 576th Meeting of the Commission
Content NoteTopics covered:

The Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Professor G Prance, had been approached to be Professor Bell’s successor as the Commission's Honorary Botanical Advisor.

Dame Janet Fookes, Brigadier Andrews and Mr Osborn had received appointments in the New Year's Honours List. Mr A F Clements, Senior Head Gardener in France Area, and Mr B R Rooke, Senior Head Gardener in Northern Europe Area, had both been awarded the British Empire Medal; Mr J E A Davies, Senior Head Gardener; Mr K Edwards and Mr R E E Gaskin, Head Gardeners, all three in the France Area, had been awarded Royal Horticultural Society medals for forty consecutive years of service to horticulture with one employer.

The deaths were reported of Mr T Abraha, Gardener at Keren War Cemetery, Ethiopia, after 28 years service, and of Mr M Dubuffet of the Albert Mobile Group in France, after 15 years of service.

Matters Arising from the Minutes of the 575th Meeting;
an update on the irrigation works at Phaleron War Cemetery, Greece; note that the expected visit to the UK by the Tunisian Minister of the Interior had not taken place, and as a result the signing of the Commonwealth-Tunisia War Graves Agreement was to be held in abeyance.

Delegation of Powers to the Director-General:
A discussion was held on the review of the Director-General's delegated powers, and to satisfy members about their ultimate control. A paper on the future of the Finance Committee would be prepared. The Corporate Plan for 1990-93 would contain more detail than previously. The Commission authorised the Director-General to appoint staff, determine pay, etc., sanction and incur expenditure, dispose of physical assets, write off losses, delegate powers, and accept agency services at no cost, all subject to stated arrangements;

Appointment to the Finance Committee:
Sir Nigel Mobbs was appointed a member of the Finance Committee, and may become a member of the Organisation Sub-Committee;

Appointment to the South African Agency:
note of the appointment of Lieutenant General Len Meyer as a Member of the South African Agency, in succession to Lieutenant General R F Holtzhausen;

Commonwealth War Graves Commission Superannuation Scheme (1952): Appointment of Trustee:
appointment of General Sir Robert Ford as a trustee following resignation of Admiral Sir David Williams

Commonwealth-Foreign Joint Committees: Appointment of Members:
the Commission approved, or took note of, six appointments to Commonwealth-Foreign Joint Committees, including that of Admiral Sir Nicholas Hunt as an Honorary Member of the Commonwealth-Belgian Joint Committee;

Agreement with the Federal Republic of Germany:
presentation of paper discussing the reciprocal arrangements with the Federal Republic of Germany regarding the maintenance of war graves and, after discussion, it was agreed to propose to the Federal Republic of Germany a renegotiation to their agreement, based only on the cost of maintaining German graves within the Commission’s care based upon a global rate per grave, which would produce a marginally lower contribution than that currently being paid;

Burials and commemorations:
the Commission approved the alternative commemoration of nine war dead in the UK;

Annual Report of Exhumations and Reinternments: 1988:
Commission took note of the Annual Report of Exhumations and Reinternments

United Kingdom Area – Private Legislation in the 1988-89 Parliamentary Session:
presentation of paper by Mr Reddie on a review of legislation before Parliament which may have a bearing on the Commission’s work, with specific reference to the London Local Authorities (No 2) Bill which was before Parliament in relation to the sale of the Westminster City cemeteries, with the Commission seeking exemptions from the licensing provisions which could create difficulties for its operations in London; and another bill which was seeking the sale of part of New Southgate Cemetery and Crematorium, which contained war graves, to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is.

Tours by Commissioners and Head Office Officials:
the Chairman had visited sites in Ghana, Sierra Leone, the Gambia and Senegal. Improvement to maintenance levels were noted, with specific positive comments on Fajara War Cemetery, The Gambia, and a single RAF grave at Blama, Sierra Leone, which was being maintained by a priest at a Roman Catholic Mission School, and mention of the hope that Outer Area organisational changes currently underway would contribute to further improvement
the Chairman had also recently visited Italy, France and Belgium to bid farewell to staff in the field, seeing many sites, with specific mentions of Tyne Cot Military Cemetery and New Irish Farm Cemetery where he had examined the reconstructed shelter building;
Mr Osborn had visited most commitments in the West Indies, Bermuda and the Bahamas which mainly consisted of scattered graves in municipal cemeteries and churchyard. He found that many of the cemeteries were overgrown, but that the areas immediately around the war graves were in most instances cleared and the headstones generally clean and legible. Comment on the fact that the headstones in Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica, where they were maintained by their Defence Forces, and in St. Lucia and Dominica, where similar work was carried out by the prison services, the headstones were painted. Note that the recent hurricane “Gilbert” had left the war graves unscathed. Comment on the good standards of maintenance in St. Lucia and the Bahamas, especially at Nassau War Cemetery, but that in Bermuda much horticultural and structural damage had been done at Prospect Hill and the Bermuda Royal Naval Cemetery by the hurricane “Emily”, and although much remedial work had been undertaken by the Bermuda National Trust, much remained to be done.

the President of the Commission had visited the War Grave plot in Oslo Western Civilian Cemetery; The Hon William Waldegrave, British Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, had visited Gaza War Cemetery; The Speaker of the House of Commons, the Rt Hon Bernard Weatherill, planned to visit Arnhem (Oosterbeek) War Cemetery; The Australian High Commissioner in London was to represent the Commission on Anzac Day on the Gallipoli Peninsular;

Other Business:
routine reports to the Finance Committee, with note that a previously recorded ''loss of cash'' had been reimbursed, and that an up to date report showed actual and expected expenditure for the year. It was intended to produce this level of detail at future meetings; a recently constructed group base at Reichswald Forest War Cemetery had been burnt down, apparently after the theft of some machinery, with the subsequent redeployment of vehicles and machinery so that normal maintenance could continue, and arrangements being made to rebuild the base; note of the suspension of a planned strike in France by locally-engaged gardeners, with the Director of Personnel planning on attending a meeting with unions, to discuss issues; report by Mr Johnson on his recent visit to Iraq and issues with sites there as a result of the war between Iraq and Iran. Comments about the state of structures and headstones, including Basra, after the war. Note of broken headstones in Basra, and some limited damage to the Basra Memorial due to Iranian artillery fire. The agreement between the Iraqi government and the Commission's member governments, for the relocation of some burials at Mosul War Cemetery, was almost ready. Negotiations had begun with the Iraqi Ministry of Foreign Affairs to appoint a replacement Local Supervisor, and it was felt that a working relationship with the Iraqi Army was vital to successfully rehabilitate sites; farewell from the Vice-Chairman as this was his last meeting.

ADMIRAL SIR DAVID WILLIAMS GCB DL (Vice-Chairman of the Commission) in the Chair
MR K C MACDONALD CB Representing the Secretary of State for Defence in the United Kingdom
MR T H J MATTHEWS Representing the High Commissioner for Australia
MR M CLAYTON Representing the Secretary of State for the Environment in the United Kingdom
MR J 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 CBE Representing the High Commissioner for New Zealand
MR R F W DAVIS Representing the Ambassador of the Republic of South Africa



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 OBE 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 M S JOHNSON, Director of Outer Area
MR P J NOAKES BSc MIHort, Director of Horticulture
MRS M E MEADS, Senior Executive Officer (Secretariat)
MR S T BELL, Secretariat
Date15/3/1989 - 15/3/1989
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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