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Seadog

Private "War Graves" in the UK

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Seadog

Thread created to allow members to continue the discussion if they so wish on the below topic which was "Locked" at the request of the instigator of that topic. This new topic concerns all aspects of the condition and upkeep of those WW1 graves of the war dead buried in a private grave plot and which for whatever reason at the time do not have a formal CWGC headstone erected on the grave. Also on the wider aspect of those buried or thought to be buried in civilian cemeteries in the UK.

Locked Topic

http://1914-1918.inv...pic=198135&st=0

Norman

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Stephen Nulty

As always on delicate matters like this, I stand to be corrected, but I believe from earlier discussions that the CWGC remit is to ensure that the commemoration of the casualty exists and is maintained, and that they have no responsibility whatsoever in regard to the actual grave or its maintenance.

A CWGC report of a cemetery (See image below) will always indicate if a commemoration is marked by a Commission Headstone (CH) or Private Memorial (PM). If the latter, then the report also includes the location of the PM in relation to the nearest CH.

If the PM contains the man's name and it is visible, then he is commemorated. If not, then CWGC will take appropriate action to ensure the commemoration - which again, does NOT mean that they will maintain the grave.

On the extract of the CWGC report for Prescot St Mary's Churchyard below, note that under the "Maintained" column, the CH is recorded as "CM" (Commission Maintained) while the PM is recorded as "No"

post-1356-0-80534200-1376665041_thumb.pn

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Seadog

I believe that you are completely correct in your assumptions and the document supports that. My own concern is with regard the dilapidated private graves that contain a casualty of WW1 but for whatever reason do not have a formal CWGC headstone in-situ. I have evidence in one case that such a headstone was refused when offered and in this case the grave is thankfully maintained in good condition by the family. There are of course many other examples of exactly the opposite where within a period of years the grave will cease to exist and there will be no physical evidence that a war casualty was buried there. My suggestion in the locked thread was for a simple marker (not headstone) to be placed near such graves which will at least indicate to visitors that someone who gave their life for this country rests there. I would be extremely interested to find out just what system there was in being to ask the families of private graves which contained a war casualty whether they wanted a formal CWGC headstone erected on the grave which of course would then be maintained in perpetuity.

Norman

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dycer

I would be extremely interested to find out just what system there was in being to ask the families of private graves which contained a war casualty whether they wanted a formal CWGC headstone erected on the grave which of course would then be maintained in perpetuity.

Norman

Is that not a "historical question" you should direct to the CWGC?

George

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Bardess

Norman, was it not mentioned in the locked thread that a 'Gallipoli Marker' may be placed on the plot when CWGC could not find the relatives?

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Seadog

I believe it was Diane but my point is really to do with the dilapidated private graves where even if a relative were found the grave itself would not be suitable for a formal CWGC headstone and in fact with time will disappear altogether. It does seem to me that some form of marker would be in order in respect of these graves even without the permission of any surviving relatives as the marker could be placed close to but not actually on the grave plot itself.

The whole question of families having a choice as to whether a CWGC headstone was placed on the grave is a difficult one for I have concrete evidence of one such family whose son died in the UK from war wounds adamantly declining both a headstone on the private grave and the offer at the time of burial in a dedicated plot near to the war hospital in a CWGC war grave. This family as no doubt others also did brought the soldier back from the war hospital at their own expense; fortunately the private grave is maintained in a very good condition to this day.

One final point is that the CWGC have started to erect signs in the UK to the effect that “There are War Graves in this Cemetery” of course the only ones anybody will be aware of are those with a CWGC headstone not all the rest.

Regards

Norman

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keithmroberts

I believe it was Diane but my point is really to do with the dilapidated private graves where even if a relative were found the grave itself would not be suitable for a formal CWGC headstone and in fact with time will disappear altogether. It does seem to me that some form of marker would be in order in respect of these graves even without the permission of any surviving relatives as the marker could be placed close to but not actually on the grave plot itself.

The whole question of families having a choice as to whether a CWGC headstone was placed on the grave is a difficult one for I have concrete evidence of one such family whose son died in the UK from war wounds adamantly declining both a headstone on the private grave and the offer at the time of burial in a dedicated plot near to the war hospital in a CWGC war grave. This family as no doubt others also did brought the soldier back from the war hospital at their own expense; fortunately the private grave is maintained in a very good condition to this day.

One final point is that the CWGC have started to erect signs in the UK to the effect that “There are War Graves in this Cemetery” of course the only ones anybody will be aware of are those with a CWGC headstone not all the rest.

Regards

Norman

My understanding is that the CWGC have a duty to commemorate the fallen. They are not in the last resort tied to specific graves or locations. See my earlier comment about special memorials when cemeteries in the UK have been largely cleared.

Norman, many families chose to have private headstones or markers in the UK as was their right. if they remain cared for, then there is no issue. Where they are dilapidated as has been stated earlier the CWGC will contact the family, and subject to the permission also of the relevant cemetery authorities will do what they can, or place a Gallipoli style marker on the private grave IF the family cannot be traced. That can be done even over many partially collapsed or damaged graves, but presumably each has to be assessed regarding it's particular condition.

Where a family grave remains intact and clear, then I don't see that anyone has the right to insist that that grave be marked as a war grave. The man or woman is commemorated, and those who wish can also find the information on the Debt of Honour Register. That is surely what is required of the commission.

Keith

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Seadog

I had hoped that the last point in your post had been made clear by me, however if a "marker" is placed on a dilapidated grave as you say why are there so many still without such a marker and I must admit I have not seen such a marker in a UK civil cemetery so perhaps you or a member will be kind enough to post an image of one on a dilapidated UK civil grave plot which contains a war casualty.

Regards

Norman

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keithmroberts

Hi Norman, Not sure if I have an image,because I only keep photos of specific graves for which I have a reason, but I have certainly seen such in Anne's Hill Cemetery in Gosport while taking photographs of another war grave for a forum member. In at least one case the marker was not built up on a pedestal of brick, but laid directly in the centre of the grave.

I seem to recall posting earlier that the CWGC probably had a long list to work through. The task of tracing families can presumably be long winded to say the least. Public appeals are presumably the last stage in that process.

Keith

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Seadog

Thanks Keith, I do not dispute what you are saying I would just like to see the type of marker you refer to on a dilapidated grave for my own benefit.

Norman

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John_Hartley

Where a family grave remains intact and clear, then I don't see that anyone has the right to insist that that grave be marked as a war grave. The man or woman is commemorated, and those who wish can also find the information on the Debt of Honour Register. That is surely what is required of the commission.

I have it in mind that the Commission usually creates a physical memorial in such cases, by the inclusion of the name amongst those listed on the "screen wall" at either the burial cemetery or one nearby. Manchester's Southern Cemetery has two commemorative screen walls (three if the WW2 one is included) - one is to burials at the cemetery, the other to burials ina wide range of cemeteries in Greater Manchester.

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keithmroberts

Here are couple of examples of a surviving private memorial, and a special memorial to a cleared grave. Both are from the churchyard of Holy Trinity, Idle where the majority of the private grave markers have been removed. In one case, a special memorial has been erected where a private grave marker was removed, in the other the private stone is the commemoration recorded by CWGC. The cemetery contains many other CWGC headstones, which were clearly all left in place when the churchyard was largely cleared.

The third image is from Anne's Hill in Gosport, and is cropped from a general view. I can't recall making a note of the details.

Keith

IMG_0110_zps7a6ce4d3.jpg

IMG_0272_zpsafd9234a.jpg

IMG_1138A_zps29f86d2e.jpg

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SWET59

My local Cheshire Home is an old TB Sanitorium. The Sanitorium had its own graveyard. The graveyard fell into disuse and in the Eighties a Petition for Faculty was raised so that the grave stones could be removed and placed around the edges of the graveyard, there was also talk of levelling the site. One of the stones removed was for a young ex-sailor who died in 1919. The CWGC erected a headstone around 1982, it is similar to the GG Naylor stone above. Parts of the original "family" headstone are still there.

Peter

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Phil Evans

Norman,

This one is in Beckenham: Wilfred Shand

Phil

post-20576-0-21264400-1376935458_thumb.j

post-20576-0-33302300-1376935470_thumb.j

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Seadog

Thanks for the photos

Norman

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Boreenatra

Originally the IWGC were not responsible for war graves in the UK. In fact they only became responsible on the 1st April 1921, a few months before the official end of WW1. Crosses were originally supplied by the army and CH's were only introduced in the 1920's. All families with war graves after 01/04/1921 were offered the choice of a CH and families were offered them retrospectively but many refused as some deaths had been up to seven years previous and many had PM's already in place, many in private family plots. Of course at that time many families, especially widows simply could not afford a headstone and many laid in unmarked graves.There is also the question of post discharge or marginal cases and some families simply did not want the army to commemorate their loved ones who had died in conflict. Cases where families did not want any commemorations in situ are called RR (Relatives Refused) and there are some, but I do think that the number has decreased over the years as CWGC does still make contact with families every so often to see if situations have changed. As CWGC is charged by it's charter to record and commemorate, nobody can stop CWGC recording a name on their database and I think a memorial was mooted for Brookwood as technically they are in breach of the charter if they are seen not to commemorate someone somewhere

Regards Steve

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tbirduk

 I know this is an old thread, but There is another issue now threatening the continued legibility of some Family graves. The Health and Safety Council workers are now going around breaking any monuments they consider unsafe and lying the monuments in a "safe" position. Unfortunately this means that inscriptions previously protected from weather erosion by being on a vertical surface are noe subject to increased erosion due to watergathering in the engraved letters. This example is from The Brookwood Public cemetery adjacent to the Military area.

Hills_R_Hs.jpg

Hills_R_Hs1.jpg

Edited by tbirduk
additional inmge

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keithmroberts

The CWGC are supposed I seem to recall to do occasional inspections and if the memorial is illegible they will try trace the grave owner, and failing that place a Gallipoli style slab on the grave. obviously a long slow process.

 

Keith

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mbriscoe

I met the CWGC a few times whilst photographing for the WGPP, I think inspector gets around most burial grounds about every year though more remote will be less freqiuent.  He does basic checks and tidying up.  Then a team will periodically go around doing more detailed maintenance.

 

I have told them a few times about ones needing attention, one private grave had a large headstone / obelisk that had fallen over (or been laid flat).  I passed it on to them because I thought they would carry more weight with the local authority, it was fixed fairly quickly.

 

Many around here suffer badly from the weather so they often go over the lettering with an indelible marker - these are not the English white headstones normally.

 

I have only seen one of the Gallipoli markers.  Some said a friend had found a relative was buried in the area and the grave not marked, they had told the CWGC and they put a Gallipoli marker on the grave.

 

Reminds me, must contact someone who is trying to get one of their relatives commemorated properly, at present just on the Chatham memorial even though his body was found and identified.  Will see if any progress in getting something erected near where he was buried.

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graeme

to tbird uk. Could you please enlighten me exactly who "Health and Safety council workers" are? 

thanks

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mbriscoe
3 hours ago, graeme said:

to tbird uk. Could you please enlighten me exactly who "Health and Safety council workers" are? 

thanks

 

At a guess someone who has been on a H&S course which is unlikely to be more than a day and could just be a couple of hours. Unfortunately the lawyers will go after compensation and / or prosecution even if someone has been stupid and climbed on a monument, shaken or rocked it or similar behaviour.

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chaz
On ‎18‎/‎04‎/‎2018 at 15:49, keithmroberts said:

The CWGC are supposed I seem to recall to do occasional inspections and if the memorial is illegible they will try trace the grave owner, and failing that place a Gallipoli style slab on the grave. obviously a long slow process.

 

Keith

Keith, that is interesting. we are currently visiting churchyards and cemeteries around our area.

this is Seend Cleeve Chapel Cemetery, set in the grounds of the chapel which is now unused. the stone in the foreground is H J Merchant. According to Grave Registration Report in 1920

"this is a private grave, maintained privately, condition good".

I am compiling pictures and various comments to send to the CWGC this one where they need to find out ownership. My theories about French churchyards and cemeteries is that the families have all died or were killed off and none left to claim ownership. I suspect this is applying to our English graveyards now.

we visited another old church recently that is now a private home, not the first in our area. sneaking around taking photographs looks suspicious

chapel centre.JPG

merchant j.JPG

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graeme
Posted (edited)

I have just started reading about this subject online one day. Stating the obvious, it is hugely complicated. But also depressing

 I found neglected cwg headstones locally in January and hoped for a happy outcome but not now

Edited by graeme

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keithmroberts

 The grave in your photograph might well meet the CWGC standard for legibility, but is obviously in need of some tlc. I would email them with the photograph asking what arrangement is in place for the care of the grave..

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graeme

this is Christ Church ,Pendlebury about a month ago. The congregation bought the church but not the graveyard. They claim no responsible for the graves

IMAG0619.jpg

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