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Private "War Graves" in the UK

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mbriscoe

I have seen ones overgrown like that but with the area around the CWGC carefully tended.

 

It is sad though when they are allowed to get into that state.  The church were many of a relative's family were married, buried etc was sold for conversion.  There was condition that the graveyard was kept tended but of course they did not honour the promise and the church authorities were not interested in doing anything about it.

 

 

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graeme

from memory these were taken at the same time as the last photo i posted. the regular visits make a huge difference in regards to keeping on top of the grass

IMAG0517 (1).jpg

IMAG0520 (1).jpg

IMAG0521 (1).jpg

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graeme

I tried to get Community payback on site, as they have been here before. But the site failed the risk assessment due to knot weed. Disappointed

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graeme

a chum successful rallied the CWGC to attend and clean the headstones earlier this year. So that's a positive. Its up to volunteers to tend the grave side.

anyone else have any good outcomes regarding neglected graves?

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graeme

I have spoken to someone from CWGC and it was hard going to say the least. They contradicted themselves a lot. Firstly, the public are allowed to clean the headstone. News to me. Second. CWG and public cant touch the grave site. That belongs to the family and we don't have permission BUT if you want you can cut the grass . Next, don't clean away any growth from the front of the headstone. The growth stops splash back/mud.

When I tried to explain the obvious, most cemeteries have a bare strip of earth between lawn and headstone and this is maintained by groundsmen, this did not penetrate . 

I no longer tidy CWG sites. I feel that a huge company like them can do the work themselves

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mbriscoe

The comment about "community payback", there must be a good chance they would just go along with a strimmer and it would end up with the headstone covered with the detritus from that.  I remember talking to someone about graveyards and he said that is the main cause of erosion of headstones now.

 

I have been in very overgrown graveyards where there have been a few CWGC headstone and the area around them has been carefully cut.

 

The legalities must be complicated when they do not own the grave though.  Could they leave a notice on the grave to say that if there is no objection then they will do some maintenance from the following year.  I have seen plenty of family headstones where they have gone over the war casualty's name to make it visible.

 

I know I found one family grave that was a small obelisk and it had fallen over.  I EMailed the local CWGC man and he contacted the council who put it back up.

 

 

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graeme

I have seen prisoners making a mess in one cemetery but do good work in another.

I have seen more damage in council cemeteries done by groundsmen. Headstones, stone flower holders and mementos shredded.

Its good news you got a positive outcome from CWGC regarding the grave site

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rolt968

I had meant to comment in this thread some time ago. I was in a local cemetery a few months ago when the CWGC team (I think it was actually one man) was working. He cleaned all the stones, cut the grass and tidied the surrounds of the CWGC stones which were in groups. However there are a number of individual CWGC headstones scattered throughout the cemetery which clearly they do not clean or tidy round (the council does mow and tidy round). Indeed one stone is quite eroded and in need of replacement.

 

I wonder if it the policy is not to clean single stones in individual locations or just an oversight (no plan provided/ available perhaps).

RM

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CorporalPunishment

Hello all, I have a question for those of you who are more knowledgeable than myself on the subject of war graves, if you don't mind. Back in the 1980s the old Houghton Regis Baptist Chapel burial ground in Bedfordshire was in a terrible state. It had long been out of use and was overgrown and derelict so the decision was taken to restore it as a garden of remembrance. The gravestones were all moved and placed against the new walls of the cemetery and the whole area was grassed over. There were three Great War graves on the site, two with CWGC headstones and one with a private headstone. The two graves with CWGC headstones were left alone but the private headstone on the third grave was moved and placed against the new wall leaving the grave unmarked. My question is this, would this unmarked grave now be eligible for a CWGC headstone?. It is on the CWGC records and it doesn't seem right that it is unmarked. Thanks for any help you can give.  Pete.

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mbriscoe

I think they have to get permission to do anything to a private grave and often it is difficult to track down relatives.  That one reason you occasionally see requests for relatives to contact them.

 

Some families did not want official headstones at the end of WWI. Possibly the only way to get one added would be to trace the family.

 

 

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CorporalPunishment
45 minutes ago, mbriscoe said:

I think they have to get permission to do anything to a private grave and often it is difficult to track down relatives.  That one reason you occasionally see requests for relatives to contact them.

 

Some families did not want official headstones at the end of WWI. Possibly the only way to get one added would be to trace the family.

 

 

Thanks. The thing that puzzles me is if, as I understand it, CWGC agents visit these sites to check on conditions, why nobody seems to have noticed the grave is unmarked and has been for about 35 years. I thought they were allowed to put a memorial on the graves on the CWGC records if those graves were unmarked. Pete.

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NigelS

Interesting question, but I suspect that it's one which there's  no hard & fast answer to.  The original Graves Registration Report Form of c1920 (https://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/2746245/horsler,-gilbert/#&gid=null&pid=2 ) has, in the remarks column:

Chapelyard is the freehold of the Pastor.
All Persons of the Baptist Persuasion are buried there
Pastor classes all Graves as private

 

Clearly at some stage it was agreed that two of the graves in this cemetery should have CWGC headstones.
There are many cemeteries in the UK  (and, for that matter, abroad) where  - for whatever reason -  the location of graves has been 'lost' or are now impractical  to mark  which have instead a special memorial, a screenwall or special headstone placed at a suitable location bearing the names of those buried  and a explanatory text along the lines of 'known to be buried in this cemetery' . This, of course, can only take place with the agreement of the cemetery owners or administrators and/or any relatives. It could possibly be argued that the fact that there is still a private headstone, even if it is not now marking the original grave location, it is meeting the CWGC's requirement that he is commemorated whether on  a headstone (private or CWGC), or  on one of its memorials, be it within the original churchyard/cemetery or, in the case where a burial location has been completely lost, elsewhere.

 

 

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mbriscoe
16 minutes ago, CorporalPunishment said:

Thanks. The thing that puzzles me is if, as I understand it, CWGC agents visit these sites to check on conditions, why nobody seems to have noticed the grave is unmarked and has been for about 35 years. I thought they were allowed to put a memorial on the graves on the CWGC records if those graves were unmarked. Pete.

 

There are pictures of the three graves on the WGPP website, I don't know when they were taken but I doubt whether it was 35 years ago.

 

https://www.twgpp.org/photograph/view/4069103

 

https://www.twgpp.org/photograph/view/4069106

 

https://www.twgpp.org/photograph/view/4069108

 

https://www.twgpp.org/cemetery/browse?cemetery=Houghton+Regis+Baptist+Chapelyard

 

In this area, I think they visit every year and inspect graves, doing any small jobs then a team go around less regularly doing bigger jobs.  They certainly look at family commemorations because I have often see where they have good over faded lettering. 

 

If the headstone has gone then the church might not want what would effectively be a new headstone if they want the area to be a garden of remembrance.

 

If the CWGC erect new headstones then I believe they are normally the Gallipoli type.

 

 

 

 

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CorporalPunishment
11 minutes ago, NigelS said:

Interesting question, but I suspect that it's one which there's  no hard & fast answer to.  The original Graves Registration Report Form of c1920 (https://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/2746245/horsler,-gilbert/#&gid=null&pid=2 ) has, in the remarks column:

Chapelyard is the freehold of the Pastor.
All Persons of the Baptist Persuasion are buried there
Pastor classes all Graves as private

 

Clearly at some stage it was agreed that two of the graves in this cemetery should have CWGC headstones.
There are many cemeteries in the UK  (and, for that matter, abroad) where  - for whatever reason -  the location of graves has been 'lost' or are now impractical  to mark  which have instead a special memorial, a screenwall or special headstone placed at a suitable location bearing the names of those buried  and a explanatory text along the lines of 'known to be buried in this cemetery' . This, of course, can only take place with the agreement of the cemetery owners or administrators and/or any relatives. It could possibly be argued that the fact that there is still a private headstone, even if it is not now marking the original grave location, it is meeting the CWGC's requirement that he is commemorated whether on  a headstone (private or CWGC), or  on one of its memorials, be it within the original churchyard/cemetery or, in the case where a burial location has been completely lost, elsewhere.

 

 

Thank you. The three graves were near the cemetery entrance and were among the last burials there before a new cemetery was opened on the other side of a public footpath. The Baptist Chapel was demolished in about 1970 and both the old and the new cemeteries were left to deteriorate until the local council took them over. The grave with the private headstone was clearly marked up until the renovation took place and is not difficult to place. I thought the CWGC had a duty to see the war graves were clearly marked, seems I was wrong. Pete.

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Phil Evans

Historically, Gilbert's grave, unlike the other two, has never been within the Commission's control - see here and note the asterisk on the Register page on his CWGC entry.

I think they would currently argue that the still intact headstone, although it has been moved from the actual grave site, is sufficient to commemorate him.

 

Phil

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CorporalPunishment
16 minutes ago, mbriscoe said:

 

There are pictures of the three graves on the WGPP website, I don't know when they were taken but I doubt whether it was 35 years ago.

 

https://www.twgpp.org/photograph/view/4069103

 

https://www.twgpp.org/photograph/view/4069106

 

https://www.twgpp.org/photograph/view/4069108

 

https://www.twgpp.org/cemetery/browse?cemetery=Houghton+Regis+Baptist+Chapelyard

 

In this area, I think they visit every year and inspect graves, doing any small jobs then a team go around less regularly doing bigger jobs.  They certainly look at family commemorations because I have often see where they have good over faded lettering. 

 

If the headstone has gone then the church might not want what would effectively be a new headstone if they want the area to be a garden of remembrance.

 

If the CWGC erect new headstones then I believe they are normally the Gallipoli type.

 

 

 

 

Thanks for the link. I know about the family headstone with the name of Gilbert Horsler on it but it is not located on the actual grave, it is up against the new wall along with all the others that were moved. Pete.

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mbriscoe
6 minutes ago, Phil Evans said:

Historically, Gilbert's grave, unlike the other two, has never been within the Commission's control - see here and note the asterisk on the Register page on his CWGC entry.

I think they would currently argue that the still intact headstone, although it has been moved from the actual grave site, is sufficient to commemorate him.

 

Phil

 

It could be that a headstone mounted against a wall is less likely to get damaged by vandals, grass cutting etc than one on its own in a lawn area.

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CorporalPunishment
15 minutes ago, Phil Evans said:

Historically, Gilbert's grave, unlike the other two, has never been within the Commission's control - see here and note the asterisk on the Register page on his CWGC entry.

I think they would currently argue that the still intact headstone, although it has been moved from the actual grave site, is sufficient to commemorate him.

 

Phil

Thanks for that. I couldn't get through on that link but what you say makes it clear why young Gilbert's in the position he is. Thanks again. Pete.

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CorporalPunishment
11 minutes ago, mbriscoe said:

 

It could be that a headstone mounted against a wall is less likely to get damaged by vandals, grass cutting etc than one on its own in a lawn area.

I would certainly agree with you there. The two CWGC graves do look somewhat vulnerable, especially with some of the Herberts who loiter round Houghton Regis. Pete.

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NigelS
26 minutes ago, CorporalPunishment said:

... I thought the CWGC had a duty to see the war graves were clearly marked, seems I was wrong. Pete.

 

I believe it's a case of if the CWGC possibly can, they will, but it very much depends on  the circumstances of each site.  Certainly if the location of an unmarked grave previously unknown becomes known, and it's possible to place a headstone, one will be as per this press statement: https://www.cwgc.org/learn/news-and-events/news/2017/10/30/16/18/cwgc-statement-on-war-graves-at-camberwell-cemetery. As has previously been mentioned, the CWGC regularly appeals for relatives of those buried in private graves which are no longer in suitable condition to offer an appropriate commemoration when it is intended to install either a new headstone on the grave, or a memorial nearby eg:

https://www.cwgc.org/learn/news-and-events/news/2018/11/23/11/56/appeal-for-relatives---november-2018  & https://www.cwgc.org/learn/news-and-events/news/2018/11/01/16/15/appeal-for-relatives---october-2018

 

NigelS

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CorporalPunishment
8 minutes ago, NigelS said:

 

I believe it's a case of if the CWGC possibly can, they will, but it very much depends on  the circumstances of each site.  Certainly if the location of an unmarked grave previously unknown becomes known, and it's possible to place a headstone, one will be as per this press statement: https://www.cwgc.org/learn/news-and-events/news/2017/10/30/16/18/cwgc-statement-on-war-graves-at-camberwell-cemetery. As has previously been mentioned, the CWGC regularly appeals for relatives of those buried in private graves which are no longer in suitable condition to offer an appropriate commemoration when it is intended to install either a new headstone on the grave, or a memorial nearby eg:

https://www.cwgc.org/learn/news-and-events/news/2018/11/23/11/56/appeal-for-relatives---november-2018  & https://www.cwgc.org/learn/news-and-events/news/2018/11/01/16/15/appeal-for-relatives---october-2018

 

NigelS

Thank you for that. So there might be hope for Gilbert yet!!. Pete.

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mbriscoe

We have been trying to get one name on the Chatham Naval Memorial commemorated near where his remains were buried, I got a relative to cotact the CWGC, she was able to get some information them but not getting a reply from her now.  It is difficult because it is on an uninhabited island off another small island.

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bedfordyeoman

Interesting. I have the QSA to Archie Allwood - didn't know his family memorial was there. I'll have to take a look. 

 

My parents are commemorated in the 'new' section. The old cemetery was in a truly awful state - I used to walk past it after crossing the old Cement Works cricket field from Dog Kennel Lane.

 

David

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