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The Chairman welcomed Mr Chistoff, Mr McGilchrist and Mr Gee, who were attending in their roles for the first time.
Mr N Tsoulos, Mobile Head Gardener in Greece, and Mr CE Sim, Senior Head Gardener in France, had each been awarded the British Empire Medal.
Mr Lionel Woodward had been appointed Secretary of the Australian Department of Veteran Affairs, in succession to Mr Noel Tanzer. Mr C W van Niekerk will relinquish his Chairmanship of the Commission's South African Agency, due to being promoted to Director General of the South African Department of Public Works and Land Affairs.
The deaths were reported of Mr Peter Cook OBE, retired Director of the Northern Europe Area, and of Mr C Fichon of the Boulogne Mobile Group in France, after 11 years of service with the Commission.
Matters arising from the Minutes of the 576th Meeting:
The Tunisian Government's counter-proposals for the Commonwealth-Tunisia War Graves Agreement had been received, and it was noted that two of the proposals were unacceptable, relating to the actions that would be taken in the event of overriding public necessity requiring the removal of war graves, and that the Tunisian exemptions from taxation and import duties were not as comprehensive as normally enjoyed by the Commission in other countries; the Tunisian Minister of the Interior had met the Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and hope was expressed that the agreement could be concluded soon, with the Secretary of State for Defence being invited to visit Tunisia;
Paper proposing the revocation of the appointment of the Finance Committee was discussed, it was agreed that the appointment of the Finance Committee should not be revoked but that its operation should be directed to major subjects only and should be reviewed in 12 months’ time.
Appointment of a Proper Officer
Mr Neil Buchanan Osborn OBE FRICS appointed as a Proper Officer of the Commission, in place of Sir Arthur Patrick Hockaday;
Commonwealth War Graves Commission Superannuation Scheme: Appointment of Trustee
Rt Hon JD Concannon resigned as a trustee of the CWGC Superannuation Scheme (1952) and the appointment of Sir Nigel Mobbs was approved
Imperial War Graves Endowment Fund: Appointment of Trustee:
The Commission recorded the resignation of Admiral Sir David Williams as a Trustee of the Imperial War Graves Endowment Fund, and nominated General Sir Robert Ford to fill that vacancy
Appointment of Honorary Botanical Adviser:
Professor G T Prance was appointed Honorary Botanical Advisor, in succession to Professor E A Bell
Progress of Expenditure
Discussion on the progress of expenditure for 1988-89 included the sum to be carried forward, and reference to underspend on staff and structural costs, principally in the installation of irrigation systems, offset by bringing forward purchase of horticultural machinery and vehicles. An under spend was provisionally indicated; this was a relatively new finance system which relied upon input from many sources; the Commission covers fluctuations in exchange rates by making advance purchases of major foreign currencies
Report on the Eighth meeting of the Commonwealth-German-French Joint Committee
Report on the successful field demonstrations at Reichswald Forest War Cemetery connected with the committee meeting, and that a response was awaited from Germany about a revision of the basis of the Federal German government's payments, also note that the President of the Volksbund Deutsche Kriegsgraberfursorge (VDK) had recently visited the Soviet Union and had photographs to the Commission of a cemetery Jelgava, Latvia (Meza (Nikolai) Cemetery) containing a plot of Commonwealth war burials which had previously been considered lost
Commonwealth-Foreign Joint Committees: Appointment of Members
Approval was sought for an additional appointment to the Commonwealth-Japanese Joint Committee
Burials and Commemorations
23 graves had been classified as ''not within the Commission's control'' in the UK; approval was given for the alternative commemoration of nine war burials in the UK, Canada and France
Tours by Commissioners and Head Office Senior Officials
Note that a Commissioner was present in Bonn marking the Volksbund Deutsche Kriegsgraberfursorge's (VDK’s) 70th anniversary.
The Chairman and Mr Concannon had visited cemeteries and churchyards in the English Midlands, and had visited staff based at Leamington, and the Mayors of Mansfield and Newark. Mr Concannon added that the Polish war graves maintained by the Commission in Newark Cemetery were in excellent order, and that the Nottinghamshire Polish community were determined to prevent the return of the remains of General Sikorski to Poland, something which had been highlighted by the recent visit of General Jaruzelski to the cemetery; the visit had also highlighted various operational difficulties in the UK Area, and staff were commended.
The Chairman had visited France, including Area Offices in Beaurains, and three cemeteries whose entrances may be affected by the Channel Tunnel project, including Calais Canadian War Cemetery which had also been recently affected by storms; he had also visited theNormandy cemeteries and commented on their excellent condition.
The Secretary spoke of his world tour and recent visits to South Africa and Namibia, specifically mentioning visit to Kohima War Cemetery in India where he had seen the recently constructed retaining wall at Kohima War Cemetery, and Australia where discussions highlighted the need for a clearly defined agreement for future maintenance of the Australian National Memorial at Villers-Bretonneux. He had observed the work of the True War Graves Project in New Zealand, which rehabilitated war graves not under the Commission's control. In Canada he had discussions about the protective legislation for war graves in British Columbia, and in South Africa he had found war graves to be in good condition. In Namibia he had discussions with the territory's Administrator-General, about the maintenance of graves after Namibia's independence
The Australian Prime Minister had visited the Australian National Memorial at Villers-Bretonneux, and confirmed funding for the strengthening of the stairs to the observation platform;
Note that the Annual Report of the Nederlands Oorlogsgravenstichting drew attention to the cooperation between the Commission and themselves; Mr Dalley was thanked, before transferring to the Northern Europe Area.
GENERAL SIR ROBERT FORD GCB CBE (Vice-Chairman of the Commission) - in the Chair
AIR CHIEF MARSHAL SIR JOHN GINGELL GBE KCB
CAPTAIN SIR MILES WINGATE KCVO
THE RT HON J D CONCANNON
SIR DEREK DAY KCM
SIR NIGEL MOBBS DL
ADMIRAL SIR NICHOLAS HUNT GCB LVO
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 O A CHISTOFF Representing the High Commissioner for Canada
BRIGADIER H M KHANNA Representing the High Commissioner for the Republic of India
MR I D McGILCHRIST Representing the High Commissioner for New Zealand
PROFESSOR SIR PETER SHEPHEARD CBE BArch PPRIBA MRTPI PPILA Honorary Artistic Adviser
PROFESSOR E A BELL CB PhD FLS CChem FRSC Honorary Botanical 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 OBE FRICS, Director of Works
MR G C REDDIE, Legal Adviser and Solicitor
MR R J DALLEY, Director of Secretariat
MR P J NOAKES BSc MIHort, Director of Horticulture
MR R D WILSON ACMA, Director of Finance
MR J P D GEE, Senior Executive Officer (Information)
MRS M E MEADS, Senior Executive Officer (Secretariat)
MR S T BELL, Secretariat