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Remembered Today:

CWGC Replace non PC headstone


MACRAE
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Just spoke to a friend yesterday and he just returned from the western Isle's he visited a cemetery and found some WW1 graves looked at them not being into WW1 he moved on . Next day he was passing and noticed a CWGC van and they was digging around a grave, being a cop he went over to do a nosey and it seems a very stupid and brainless teacher from down south had visited the cemetery and noticed a grave with Unkown Negro 1918 and complained that it was not PC so they are replacing it . Have seen picture of original headstone but not the replacement PC brigade staff changing history to suit there egos eh.

Dan

hope to have a copy of the picture to post on GWF

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I would have thought a Police Officer would know more than most the nature of the world when it comes to the 'N' word.

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I'm struggling to think of alternative wording that could convey as much of the little information that was apparently available when this poor fellow was buried. If he was completely unknown, his body was presumably recovered from the sea. But what indicated that he qualified for a war grave ? Perhaps his body washed up with others that could be identified as coming from a qualifying vessel?

What words could be used without making assumptions for which there may be no evidence: 'Unknown black seaman'? 'Unknown African seaman'?

Bearing in mind the enormous efforts put into giving back the 'true' names of the men on the Mendi memorial, I hope that records have been carefully researched to try and discover more about the origins of the man (including why he was in that part of the world). It would be very disappointing if all that is being done is to edit away the word 'negro' - particularly if the form of words chosen deprives the man of the only thing known about him, namely his ethnicity.

Whoever he, may he rest in peace.

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I'm struggling to think of alternative wording that could convey as much of the little information that was apparently available when this poor fellow was buried.

Although if the Commission can, then it would be something to be welcomed.

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I would be very interested in the exact location of the cemetery and also a picture of the original stone to post on the Scottish War Graves Project.

\Spoons

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It would be very disappointing if all that is being done is to edit away the word 'negro' - particularly if the form of words chosen deprives the man of the only thing known about him, namely his ethnicity.

How true!

Why oh why do people strive to make historical acts fit with modern understanding. History & historical monuments or words are exactly that; historical. They should be left as a window into the past and the accepted social standards of the time.

As an aside, why are such acts always pertaining to specific groups. I have yet to see anyone complain about an article or postcard generalising the German nation as barbaric huns or worse.

Andy

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Prior to the shift away from it's use in the 1960's to the term 'Black' or 'Black African', the word 'Negro' was simply a classification of ethnicity and accepted as a normal, completely neutral, formal term both by those of Black African descent as well as those of non-African black descent. 'Negro' superseded 'colored' as the most polite terminology, at a time when 'black' was still generally regarded as negative.

Thus, at the time the headstone was inscribed, it was the proper and polite terminology and was obviously done with respect in mind.

I'm with Andy on this. Should we wipe history just to keep up with contemporary fickle political correctness?

Cheers,

Tim L.

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I am sick and tired of these games.

When I was growing up, it was considered impolite to describe someone as "black", we were taught to say "coloured" which was then the acceptable term. "Negro" was a formal description and not at all offensive, and it's only quite recently that I've become aware that it's now apparently as bad as "n igger" (which is virtually the same word as the name of a country in Africa anyway).

I'm not going to play any more. I shall say whatever I like because I can't keep up any more. :angry2:

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Should we wipe history just to keep up with contemporary fickle political correctness?

The Commission owns the stone. The Commission chose the original wording on its property. The Commission now chooses to change the wording on its property.

Why would it want to continue to use a word that is known to now give offence?. Why would anyone here want them to continue to use a word known to now give offence?

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I can't quite believe that you wrote that authoritarian tosh, John. If the headstone is to be replaced with one which, on the basis of diligent research, better commemorates the hitherto unidentified man of black African descent who is buried beneath it, well and good - but if it is simply being 'revised' on the basis of no new information and the complaint of one person, having stood for upwards of 90 years, it's a scandalous intrusion into the peace of the man's resting place and an equally scandalous mis-use of public funds for shallow political reasons.

But let's wait and see what they put on the new stone before we risk falling out about it ...

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I think it's about time we did away with the outmoded class-based hierarchical nonsense of having "officers" and "men", simply so the effete poodle-faking upper classes can better be identified.

Aux armes, citoyennes. Or is that citoyens?

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before we risk falling out about it ...

I've no intention of falling out with you or anyone else over this - I assume everyone holds their views sincerely and I respect that, even when I disagree with them.

And, to be clear, yes I would find it offensive if the Commission chose to do nothing now it has been brought to its attention.

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And, to be clear, yes I would find it offensive if the Commission chose to do nothing now it has been brought to its attention.

Lots of things are brought to the Commission's attention, John, and almost all of them require a great deal more than one person's unsupported opinion in order to get something changed.

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Lots of things are brought to the Commission's attention, John, and almost all of them require a great deal more than one person's unsupported opinion in order to get something changed.

Indeed, Mick. Which makes it all the more interesting that, if the story as recounted by the CWGC workers is accurate, the Commission has acted on the sole complaint of a "very stupid and brainless teacher".

Knowing that the Commission does not usually make amendments to a headstone until it is scheduled to be replaced and that the lead time for new headstones is over a year, I wonder when the complaint was made.

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This summer, I found a headtsone of a South African where the inscription was, IIRC,

"So Farewell, Stanley.

You always played the white man."

That is what the family wanted engraved at the time.

Who am I to complain now???

Bruce

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  • 1 month later...

Next time I speak to the person whom seen this and has a picture of the grave I think I will ask the EXACT location.

Dan

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I'm interested in this - but from a different perspective of how the man's colour should be commemorated. The point seems to have been missed in that him being commemorated as a "Negro" gives a possible discriminator in attempting to identify him, even though the result may not be conclusive enough to have a named headstone erected.

I'm guessing here, but "Western Isles" may imply that he was a merchant seaman who had been washed up, probably from a torpedoed ship. If so, are there any contemporary records of when his body was found and the circumstances, results of an inquest, other bodies having been found at around the same time (who may have been identified) etc. etc.?

It's not that big a leap to then try and identify possible vessels he may have come from, and look at the crew casualty lists to see if there are any fits; these days, Geoff's Search Engine will provide that information at the click of a mouse!

Arguing over the rights and wrongs of an ethnic description is a rather unrewarding activity when there exists a possibility of identifying him. I don't know what wording has been used in lieu of Negro, but if say it has been changed to "Unknown Merchant Seaman" as a nod to the sensitivities of one indignant individual then ironically that may consign him to total anonymity for evermore.

Dan - please can you dig around for some more details?

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Can anyone tell me if a white soldier/sailor/airman has ever been found and the word 'white' been put onto an inscription?

Does it matter the headstone is being changed, most headstones need replacing or repaired at some point?

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If the ancestors of this man were to look for him some time in the future, his ethnicity may be a useful aid in their research.

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I'm confused as to why the term negro is automatically considered racist, it's not in the USA, so why would it be in the UK? Putting negro into google will return colleges with that in the name, as well as a baseball museum, an African American Womans organisation - the National Negro Council of Women, etc, etc

It is only racist went it is used in a derogatory way, and I doubt that it was intended in that way on the headstone. If this story is true, then it smacks of the worst form of PC - someone being offended on behalf of somebody who might be ofended if they saw it!

At the risk of being labeled a racist, a lot of white people are guilty of doing just that. :innocent:

I do agree that missing off the racial identity in this case of an unknown would hinder future identification of his last resting place, unless of course its only the public face of the headstone and entry in the cemetery register that is changed, and not all the details held by CWGC - now that would be hypocrtical!!

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I'm confused as to why the term negro is automatically considered racist, it's not in the USA, so why would it be in the UK? Putting negro into google will return colleges with that in the name, as well as a baseball museum, an African American Womans organisation - the National Negro Council of Women, etc, etc

It is only racist went it is used in a derogatory way, and I doubt that it was intended in that way on the headstone. If this story is true, then it smacks of the worst form of PC - someone being offended on behalf of somebody who might be ofended if they saw it!

At the risk of being labeled a racist, a lot of white people are guilty of doing just that. :innocent:

I do agree that missing off the racial identity in this case of an unknown would hinder future identification of his last resting place, unless of course its only the public face of the headstone and entry in the cemetery register that is changed, and not all the details held by CWGC - now that would be hypocrtical!!

Have to fully agree, PC gone mad yet again....

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The pertinent point is that he is in a CWGC grave. This indicates his life was lost as a result of some enemy action, not Nature, such as shipwreck.

It therefore follows that at the time of his burial, it was known he was a War Casualty not storm.

There must be other CWGC graves there, otherwise how did anyone know?

Is there any way of obtaining a response from the CWGC (apart from filling in a contact email)?

That may solve the questions being raised here.

My point is that if it was a ship sunk by gunfire, torpedo or mine, then he must have come ashore at a particular time that might help relate to which ship he could have been on.

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