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Remembered Today:

Parliament Debate on the WW1 Commemorations (Renamed)


Seadog

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Channel 81 is repeating the debate in the House on the 100th commemoration followed by July 1914 crisis lecture. Put down that mince pie and tune in

Norman

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The standard of debate in the House was excellent and a refreshing change to the normal way this place works. The IFTC project received a mention and for me one of the highlights was the address by an Ulster MP who had visited the Somme and Flanders and made a plea for understanding and recognition between the two now separate nations who together had made huge sacrifices in the Great War. A word of congratulations also to my local MP who acted as Speaker for this debate.

Norman

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no time just now Norman, but thanks for the tip. Is this the one? (third link down) Click

Hopefully it will be available later?

Mike

Tomorrow at 17.55 for those that wish to watch the traditionalist way.

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Thanks for that I see that the debate will also be broadcast and I look forward to watching it having missed a large chunk of todays airing.

BBC Channel 81

Thurs 26/12

WW1 Commemorations debate 1500hrs (approx)

1914 Lecture 1755 hrs

Norman

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I watched the House of Commons debate on the proposals for the commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the First World War

held on 7th November 2013, repeated today on BBC Parliament Channel.

I was surprised at the level of knowledge displayed by the MPs who spoke, on their local areas contributions and losses 100 years ago,

and that the anniversary should be viewed as commemoration, rather than celebration.

I have never watched this channel before, but this 2 1/2 hour repeat should be of interest to everyone on this forum, i certainly was engrossed.

The only downside was the poor turnout of MPs present, maybe 15 to 20.

Edited by jonathan b
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Members may be interested to read the minutes of the 5th December 2013 meeting of the APPWHG in particular that relating to the joint imitative made by CWGC, APPWHG and the IFTC Project in respect of the war graves in the UK. All MPs were contacted and a schedule of all local cemeteries where the fallen lie was made available, it is disappointing that according to the minutes only 10% of MPs have responded, the second comment by Colin Kerr (CWGC) refers. It came as no surprise to me that the debate mentioned the delay in affixing simple information signs to those cemeteries in the UK containing graves of the fallen and that this was caused by the inertia of the Church of England.

Minutes

http://www.wargravesheritage.org.uk/minutes/WH051213.pdf

Letter sent to MPs

http://www.wargravesheritage.org.uk/letters/WWIemailnew.pdf

APPWHG = All Party Parliamentary War Heritage Group

CWGC = Commonwealth War Graves Commission

IFTC Project = In from the Cold Project

Norman

PS Thread renamed.

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The only downside was the poor turnout of MPs present, maybe 15 to 20.

Jonathan

I'm afraid it is not at all surprising. Our view of the Commons as a tightly packed cockpit is because we only tend to see wide shots during bear pit moments such as PM Questions and the budget. For most debates that are not leading to a vote the actual number of members in the chamber is often vanishingly small and is restricted to those for whom the subject has a direct constituency impact, or on which they are particularly well informed. Even for the budget debate, at which each of the party leaders is entitled to speak, the house will have emptied by the time it gets to the minor parties' contributions.

I would hope as the Centenary nears and it becomes, perhaps, a point of more discussion in the wider population, the antenna of a few more MPs will twitch at the prospect of some good constituency publicity a few months ahead of the 2015 General Election. However that may mean more views from representatives not so well informed as those present at the debate this autumn, which I agree was of a very good standard.

David

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Just a personal view of course but I am getting the distinct impression that the national thrust of the 100th Anniversary is beginning to develop into mainly a mass remembrance of the dead. Unless I am completely mistaken there is very little reference to the vast majority of our armed forces who came home unscathed and were faced with building a future based on promises such as “homes fit for heroes” when of course the reality was completely different. It is of course much easier these days to research those who died than the overwhelming majority who did not and I suppose having the CWGC as a major partner in the anniversary events will tend to place more emphasis on the dead than the living. Such an attitude is plain to see on this forum were there are numerous references to "In from the cold” and adding names to memorials etc. It would indeed be refreshing to see such obvious expertise directed at some of those who lived through WW1 and their subsequent experiences in a country whose people were to face massive hardships following the Great War.

Norman

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A good point Norman, although I suspect a fairly large number once demobbed went back to living their everyday lives. I can recall an interview on TV with Harry Patch who mentioned that he couldn`t understand all the fuss around him, as it was a period of his life that he had been trying to forget for the last 80 years. I suspect that a large number of participants had done the same, put it to the back of their minds and got on with life.

On the other hand, a few years back I bumped into a retired male nurse who had spent his working life at an asylum in Northampton. When he started in the early 1960s the place was full to the brim with ex WW1 servicemen, who were too badly damaged both mentally and physically to be released into public life. He intimated that the only reason the idea of 'care in the community' was raised in the mid 1980s was because the last WW1 chap kept in an asylum in Britain had died in 1979.

I suspect that the idea of 'a land fit for heroes' was merely a method for gaining votes for politicians at the time, with little in the way of substance to back it up.

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Thanks Slick I think that what I am saying is that to give more emphasis to the dead is to do a great disservice to the vast majority who survived and their story should be told if we are to have a balanced view of the conflict. Many war memorials do indeed list all those that served as well as those that fell but these seem to be in the minority. I have knowledge of one man who suffered for the remainder of his life from the effects of the war and also one who came through and retained a great pride in his regiment and the comrades that he served with to the extent of serving on the committee of his old comrades association. On a purely hypothetical basis I wonder just how the conflict would have been perceived had the decision to bury the soldiers on the battlefields been reversed and the fallen brought home to lie in war cemeteries across the UK.

Norman

PS : Perhaps CGM but this follows on from the debate in the UK parliament and the opinions stated in that place which will have a major impact in the way that the national commemorations are formatted.

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Thanks Slick I think that what I am saying is that to give more emphasis to the dead is to do a great disservice to the vast majority who survived and their story should be told if we are to have a balanced view of the conflict. Many war memorials do indeed list all those that served as well as those that fell but these seem to be in the minority. I have knowledge of one man who suffered for the remainder of his life from the effects of the war and also one who came through and retained a great pride in his regiment and the comrades that he served with to the extent of serving on the committee of his old comrades association. On a purely hypothetical basis I wonder just how the conflict would have been perceived had the decision to bury the soldiers on the battlefields been reversed and the fallen brought home to lie in war cemeteries across the UK.

Norman

PS : Perhaps CGM but this follows on from the debate in the UK parliament and the opinions stated in that place which will have a major impact in the way that the national commemorations are formatted.

Norman

I think your fears are widely shared. I have said on other threads that the politicians' centenary plans appear so far to amount to little more than a series of extra Remembrance Sundays tied to the dates of British disasters plus the dispatch of as many schoolchildren as possible to the battlefields. The historians appointed to advise the government have been voicing their misgivings (Hew Strachan has been putting his head well above the parapet) and I believe there is an increasing feeling of "is that it?" At least the inclusion of Amiens (a battle of which 99% of the population will have never heard) is a first step to providing some wider understanding that we actually won the war in the field.

I think the Government needs to be clear what its aim is for the commemoration. Are we trying to learn lessons from the events: before, during and after? Are we trying to finally debunk the myths that have become accreted to the war eg the mud, blood and futility, 'Oh what a lovely war', 'Blackadder', 'Lions led by Donkeys' war? Are we going to take a fresh look at the impact it had on society at the time and since through the lives of survivors? Or is it just endless memorials with Owen's poetry being intoned against a backdrop of the standard Malins images with Butterworth and Vaughan Williams as the soundtrack? (I hasten to add I do not mean to be disrespectful to either the dead or those individuals I have just mentioned as they all made towering contributions to their respective art forms)

Time is running short a grip needs to be applied

David

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Norman

I think your fears are widely shared. I have said on other threads that the politicians' centenary plans appear so far to amount to little more than a series of extra Remembrance Sundays tied to the dates of British disasters plus the dispatch of as many schoolchildren as possible to the battlefields. The historians appointed to advise the government have been voicing their misgivings (Hew Strachan has been putting his head well above the parapet) and I believe there is an increasing feeling of "is that it?" At least the inclusion of Amiens (a battle of which 99% of the population will have never heard) is a first step to providing some wider understanding that we actually won the war in the field.

I think the Government needs to be clear what its aim is for the commemoration. Are we trying to learn lessons from the events: before, during and after? Are we trying to finally debunk the myths that have become accreted to the war eg the mud, blood and futility, 'Oh what a lovely war', 'Blackadder', 'Lions led by Donkeys' war? Are we going to take a fresh look at the impact it had on society at the time and since through the lives of survivors? Or is it just endless memorials with Owen's poetry being intoned against a backdrop of the standard Malins images with Butterworth and Vaughan Williams as the soundtrack? (I hasten to add I do not mean to be disrespectful to either the dead or those individuals I have just mentioned as they all made towering contributions to their respective art forms)

Time is running short a grip needs to be applied

David

Not that many schoolchildren will visit the battlefields. The current funding for the project covers, via the sole contract provider, the school travel group, funding for 2 students and 1 member of staff from each school.

I currently run an annual school trip to the Somme Battlefields following the movements of the 20th Battalion the D.L.I., (our locally raised battalion), and for the same budget as being awarded to the S.T.G. can take seven students for 1 week to the Somme. I've been in discussions with the D.F.E and the centenary visit project organisers trying to get the equivalent funding devolved directly to schools, where without doubt much more efficient use of the funds can be achieved. I doubt this will happen although the issue was raised in Parliament by our M.P. and I'm now contacting the minister in charge directly. The published itinerary for the proposed educational visits is also disappointing, a whistle stop tour, lots of time on a coach visiting the "main sites" in the region with little regard to relating the sites visited to the communities from which the students originate.

Needless to say at present my school does not intend to participate in the project but will continue to raise funds and plan our own visit linked to the impacts of the war on local residents and community.

Doug

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Not that many schoolchildren will visit the battlefields. The current funding for the project covers, via the sole contract provider, the school travel group, funding for 2 students and 1 member of staff from each school.

I currently run an annual school trip to the Somme Battlefields following the movements of the 20th Battalion the D.L.I., (our locally raised battalion), and for the same budget as being awarded to the S.T.G. can take seven students for 1 week to the Somme. I've been in discussions with the D.F.E and the centenary visit project organisers trying to get the equivalent funding devolved directly to schools, where without doubt much more efficient use of the funds can be achieved. I doubt this will happen although the issue was raised in Parliament by our M.P. and I'm now contacting the minister in charge directly. The published itinerary for the proposed educational visits is also disappointing, a whistle stop tour, lots of time on a coach visiting the "main sites" in the region with little regard to relating the sites visited to the communities from which the students originate.

Needless to say at present my school does not intend to participate in the project but will continue to raise funds and plan our own visit linked to the impacts of the war on local residents and community.

Doug

I'm also a teacher Doug and we too will be arranging our own trips as normal. I think the government has been fooled by the success of the two students plus 1 trips to Auschwitz. But that is aimed at 6th Form. I see little value in the scheme as currently set up

David

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I'm also a teacher Doug and we too will be arranging our own trips as normal. I think the government has been fooled by the success of the two students plus 1 trips to Auschwitz. But that is aimed at 6th Form. I see little value in the scheme as currently set up

David

Well, I'm still on the case of trying to get the funding devolved to schools so we can put it to more efficient use.

Bad publicity / embarrassing the Govt. seems the only way to get a response at present.

Following a freedom of information request I have details as to how much the "School Travel Group" is being awarded / funded for each school party this is as follows;

The estimated gross cost of providing 2 student places and one staff place by S.T.G. , (the winner of the tender),is £1305 per school for 4 days + 3 nights, including travel, all education components, fixed costs and pilot costs.

As I can demonstrate how much more efficient use we can make of such a level of funding were it devolved to individual school, (I take 7 students, 3 staff for 1 week for slightly less), the Minister is squirming a little. However, efficient use of funds and Govt. Depts. don't go hand in hand!

The case continues!!

Doug

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Thanks for the very interesting posts thus far, I do feel perhaps incorrectly that all that the school visits will achieve is to perpetuate the view that the Lions were in fact led by Donkeys as already stated and that everybody involved was a victim for after all how are the teachers who will accompany the schoolchildren forming there own view of the conflict. I exclude from the forgoing those schoolchildren who may be lucky to have as a guide one of the forum members who will I have no doubt give a more balanced view. Sadly the signs are there already that this commemoration is to be focused on remembrance which is of course important but is nowhere near the full story.

Norman

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