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Bang goes the neighbourhood


Tom Tulloch-Marshall
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Yesterday afternoon I revisited Pernes British Cemetery, a “back-area” cemetery which is relatively isolated in terms of its distance from any other CWGC cemetery or the nearest front lines about Loos and Lens. Its in fields adjacent to the D70(*) about 1,000m west of the centre of Pernes. Not exactly in the middle of nowhere, but not an area which is at all wanting in terms of vast areas of empty space. (* As it passes through Pernes the D70 is called the Avenue du President Kennedy, which is maybe relevant).

This view was taken yesterday looking northwards over the cemetery towards the D70 >

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And this view from the D70 looking back at the cemetery >

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Pleasant views aren’t they – but not for long by the looks of it. Yet another CWGC site is about to find itself on the wrong side of continental planning consents.

Tom

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I just wonder why they do this :glare:

Tom

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I just wonder why they do this :glare:

So someone can make lashings of moolah of course

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Yes, its a shame, but didn't we fight in two world wars in part at least so that our continental friends could retain the right to make their own decisions? We may not always like the outcome, but so be it. It was the land on which the cemetery stands that was gifted in perpetuity, not the region or even the view.

Keith

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Life moves on. And who knows, having an industrial park opposite might mean a few more French people stop and remember once in a while.

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It was the land on which the cemetery stands that was gifted in perpetuity, not the region or even the view.

Keith

Agreed Keith, it is not our country.

Michelle

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Yes, its a shame, but didn't we fight in two world wars in part at least so that our continental friends could retain the right to make their own decisions? We may not always like the outcome, but so be it. It was the land on which the cemetery stands that was gifted in perpetuity, not the region or even the view.

Keith

I’m afraid I disagree with that, Keith. I find many of the post-war encroachments foisted upon IWGC / CWGC cemeteries and memorials to be needlessly intrusive, to the point of being disrespectful.

I believe that the cemeteries and memorials should have been (and still could be) the subject of some sort of “listed building” status as we have in the UK.

Water under the bridge now I suppose, but I cannot share TR’s happiness that a relative’s last resting place is now to become part of an industrial complex.

I find the current environs of places such as Gourock Trench Cemetery (and many others) to be quite “sad” in this respect. The French are hardly short of land, are they ?

Tom

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Tom

I think you are looking beyond "listed building" as that does not prevent what might happen next door. There are some I think "Conservation areas" but they only protect structures, or possibly trees. I think you are almost asking for National Park style planning restrictions around cemeteries, which we certainly don't have at home.

Keith

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... I think you are looking beyond "listed building" ...

An interesting viewpoint, Keith, as are some of the others above. I probably am looking beyond "listed building" from the point of view of how UK planning authorities might view an application for an industrial zone beside a listed building or the like – or maybe I’m simply looking at it from the point of view of respect, or good taste. I’ll maybe adjust my level of credence to some of these laid-back views when the French build a pisoire up against one side of the Arc de Triomphe, and a déchetterie on the other :glare:

Tom

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If the French wanted to do that it'd be none of our business to stick our noses in. Credence has nothing to do with it. England hasn't owned any major part of France since Bloody Mary's time.

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Perhaps we might have been better off had we not "stuck our noses in" in 1914. We would not have worried about the cemeteries and memorials then. There may be nothing that can be done to prevent such developments around the cemeteries but it does seem a terrible shame and rather devoid of sensitivity. As Tom says, it is not as though there is a shortage of land.

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I believe it was Lord Denning who once passed a judgement which basically said "if you wish to secure a view then buy it". The French were generous in donating land for the cemeteries "in perpetuity". Life thankfully goes on and we should respect that the current generation is removed by nearly a century from the Great War, which was as I understand it fought for their freedom.

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If the French wanted to do that it'd be none of our business to stick our noses in. ...

So by your “logic” it wasn’t our (and others) business to “stick our noses in" when the germans invaded Poland, and started massacring millions of civilians in concentration camps ? Etc, etc, etc, etc; ad infinitum.

You can have your opinion, but when it comes to the graves of and memorials to British, Commonwealth, and Dominion soldiers it is our business. “Life moves on” (P.6) and “its not our country” (P.7) is neither here nor there. They are our war dead and they died trying to save the countries which now owe them a dept of respect.

Tom

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... "if you wish to secure a view then buy it". ...

They were bought, with the blood of the soldiers buried and commemorated there.

Tom

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Tom are you seriously saying that the surrounding area of every War cemetery in Europe, and by implication the rest of the world should be protected from development for ever. That is I suggest not going to happen and perhaps a more pragmatic view in the interests of those alive today would be more constructive.

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Many years ago I felt that the amusement park at Bellewarde was in dubious taste. I then took my kids there a few years later: we had a great day, with my two girls inter-acting with Belgian, French, Dutch, German, South African and Australian kids.

We can't preserve these sites as some form of time warp: life does move on, and I am (as I said before) of the opinion that bringing places of employment this close to cmeteries might actually have a beneficial outcome.

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Tom are you seriously saying that the surrounding area of every War cemetery in Europe, and by implication the rest of the world should be protected from development for ever. That is I suggest not going to happen and perhaps a more pragmatic view in the interests of those alive today would be more constructive.

Ideally, yes, certainly from the type of highly intrusive and to my mind disrespectfull and intrusive developments which have been allowed so far. Mind you I do see your point – all those thousands upon thousands of war cemeteries in Europe … oh no, I’m getting as confused as you seemingly are – the war cemeteries are numbered in hundreds, and the areas where they are situated are vast. With the exception of cemeteries sited in cities a bit of space left round the cemeteries of our war dead would hurt no one.

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Tom

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"Water under the bridge now I suppose, but I cannot share TR’s happiness that a relative’s last resting place is now to become part of an industrial complex."

Tom, I don't expect anyone to agree with me about anything but I find your comment, which borders on sarcasm, somewhat irritating. As has been mentioned above, we don't own the land and the French owe us nothing. Life moves on.

TR

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... the French owe us nothing. ...

I don’t claim that the French, Belgians, etc, owe me anything. What they owe my grandfather’s dead mates is another matter altogether. (And they owe it in perpetuity).

Tom

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Logically, if they didn't want British cemeteries to be affected by foreign planning decisions a hundred years on, they should have repatriated all the bodies in 1919 to somewhere under British control where we we could lay down whatever laws we wished without foreign interference.

If these men had been in civic graves in the UK, there's every chance their gravestones would have been laid flat by now. I think it's possible to find contemplative quiet in military cemeteries surrounded by all sorts of chaos and noise, thanks to the design and architecture of Lutyens and his contemporaries.

Gwyn

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I have removed a number of posts which varied from potentially offensive, to the gratuitously so, or which referred to such posts.

can any further comments please be kept entirely civilised.

Could I also add that, as in some sports, retaliation to an incident is just as inappropriate as the initiation.

Keith Roberts

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I believe it was Lord Denning who once passed a judgement which basically said "if you wish to secure a view then buy it". The French were generous in donating land for the cemeteries "in perpetuity". Life thankfully goes on and we should respect that the current generation is removed by nearly a century from the Great War, which was as I understand it fought for their freedom.

As I understand it there is no proposal to move the cemetery or build over it. The French are therefore living up to their pledge.

It is people here who are interpreting the pledge to mean "and the countryside in view around the cemetery". I wonder does anyone have any idea just how much land would be involved if the view was taken into account?

Let's see: 400 miles of trench multiplied by about 20 miles wide stretch. 8000 square miles at a conservative estimate.

And how do you define the view. There would have been very little rape seed growing in 1918. Do we ban that or maize? Or how about new barns, farmhouses, silage dumps?

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Tom is of course correct in as much as the French do owe our war dead some degree of respect, however we cannot expect that respect to built into their planning laws, at least they are not trying to flatten the cemetery and build over it!!

The best we can hope for is that the CWGC continue to tend the graves of all our fallen in perpetuity, where-so-ever they may rest.

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I cannot agree with your statement (Post 24) that "we cannot expect that respect to built (sic) into their planning laws" indeed I would have the opposite view that when such developments are proposed in close proximity to any war cemetery then due respect and dignity must be included at the planning stage. By this I mean that perhaps the war cemetery could be screened with trees or the site landscaped to favour the location of the cemetery. There are many ways in which a sympathetic attitude can and indeed must be taken when such developments are mooted and the planning authorities must take due cognizance to the effect of such development on any nearby war cemetery. This is not rocket science and if there is a will to adapt the plans to take account of the development then it can be done. I would also expect the CWGC to make their feelings known to the planners and to take a proactive role in any discussions.

Regards

Norman

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