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Remembered Today:

Proposed new Memorial Park at Pozières


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It came a a surprise to me as well Jonathan and the more I think about this the more ill-conceived it appears.

Regards

Norman

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I noticed that this is a group which appears to do some sort of sound and light show, or is connected somehow. I haven't seen it and could be quite entertaining (if you like that sort of thing). From that I get the feeling they are wanting to set up an arena of some sort. At least that is what the semi-circular ampitheatre shape could be aiming at - it does look out onto the elbow and the Old German lines. This just makes me feel even more opposed to it - someone's wants to make money out of this and are using a "memorial" as a means to an end.

Jonathan

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I have received a very prompt reply to my questions in Post 13 for which I am grateful. It is possible that the Association responsible for the project will post on the forum. If that should not happen within a reasonable time period then I will post the salient points of the email here,

Regards

Norman

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I can see value is funding say, a couple of parking bays for coaches at a modest distance from the core of the site, and for some sensitive footpath work that would improve access for disabled visitors, but I really don't think this can be seen as a positive thing. Far better to focus on the schoolroom, and create something that can benefit future generations, with perhaps a suitable plaque to the memory of those who served and died there.

Keith

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The French do have a tradition of these light shows, some can be exceptionally good. An outdoor light show with sound might pleasantly surprise us.

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Michael Johnson

Both my sons visited the battlefields of the Western Front with school parties, and I feel that it left little impression on either.

Keith

Keith,

I really think it depends on the level of preparation and commitment. I went with my son's tour in 2010. These were 16-year-olds, and fairly evenly split between genders.

All of them had been given a Canadian soldier buried at Beny-sur-Mer Canadian Cemetery (there was a Normandy section of the tour) to research beforehand.

I think that all of the students were seriously affected by what they saw.

Michael

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The French do have a tradition of these light shows, some can be exceptionally good. An outdoor light show with sound might pleasantly surprise us.

Done well and in the right environment sound and light shows can be effective but done badly and in the wrong environment they are at best tacky and at worst a horrible embarrassment. The best I've seen were at the Temple of Karnak and in Vienna. In both cases great use was made of spectacular and inspiring architecture and the shadows and echoes created by this. Such a background is entirely missing from this site

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Here are the main points from the email I have received from the Association following my questions as Post 13. This has been edited to exclude those areas already detailed on the Association website, I have replied and asked again if the total estimated costs are available in respect of the battlefield park and of course thanking the President of the Association for such a prompt and detailed reply.

Norman

For your information, the Project has official planning, and the land has been donated by a Pozieres Farmer that is retiring from farming at the end of 2014. This land includes sections of OG 1 and OG2, and the Pozieres Ridge, described by Charles Bean the Military Historian as being the one place on earth most drenched in Australian sacrifice.

The Australian Government does not support the Project though you will note that our Patron is a Member of the current Federal Government.. The Project was originally planned as a French, German, and Australian Governments, our Association (Australia) and the Windmill Association (Local French) Project. Our Government said No as it has to everything to do with Pozieres..

The Memorial Park is supported by the local authorities and a local French Association responsible to raise funds to build the windmill.

The School Project, whilst originally proposed by our Association, has been taken over by another Association in Sydney, freeing us up for our primary project - the Memorial Park. A small school for 30 plus students is minimal cost.

There is no definitive plan to refund if we cannot build the full park. Requests for refunds can be made by any concerned person, and we will honour that immediately. We are retaining Names and Details of all Donors, and will refund immediately to anyone with concerns. The plan is that the Park WILL be built. Worst case scenario is that the Park will comprise a lovely grassed area, with a Memorial List of all those that died in the Battle. In other words, the Park will be on a scale that we can afford out of the monies raised. To date we have raised the monies to complete the Park as above, and we have not commenced our fund raising in Australia as yet.

This Park will be on the lines of an Australian Memorial Park, predominately grassed and flowered. A lot like Beaumont Hamel without the trenches, and with permission to walk off the paths onto the grassed areas.

For the last three years our Association has raised monies and helped the Village of Pozieres to stage the annual Commemorations and Sound and Light Shows depicting the Battle. We will be commencing Australian fund raising for the Memorial Park on 1st Apr, with a tour through Victoria. In the following 6 months we will be touring and fund raising in Queensland and New South Wales. Please note that all costs incurred by our Members are borne by the Members themselves, and ALL monies donated go to the cause. With a population of 23 Million, and the interest in Australia regarding the Centenary of the ANZAC, fund raising should not be a problem.

Hopefully I have satisfied most of your questions. I have chosen not to state total costs, as I believe that to be a lesser consideration than what we are intending to do.

Barry Gracey

President

Pozieres Remembrance Association INC

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Done well and in the right environment sound and light shows can be effective but done badly and in the wrong environment they are at best tacky and at worst a horrible embarrassment. The best I've seen were at the Temple of Karnak and in Vienna. In both cases great use was made of spectacular and inspiring architecture and the shadows and echoes created by this. Such a background is entirely missing from this site

I suggest you don't watch this clip http://www.somme-battlefields.com/battlefields/actualites/pozieres_dans_l_ombre_et_la_lumiere_priorite_1 of the show.

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48th Division yes - Pozieres was important. So much so that Lieut. Reginald Pridmore RFA called one of his horses Pozieres. My grandfather died on the Bapaume road near Pozieres. Mouquet farm is right near too where ordinary UK soldiers died - my sister in law's uncle was one of those.

It would be sad to allow the national pride of Australians to claim the area as particularly theirs. What proportion of those who died near Pozieres were Australian?

However, if one is thinking of improving tourist facilities in that sparsely populated area of the Somme, I could have done with a public lavatory or two.

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Guest Pozieres1915

POZIERES REMEMBRANCE ASSOCIATION COMMENTS

I have specifally registered with this Forum to be able to respond to the "armchair experts" who opted to criticise what our Association is doing at Pozieres

Firstly let me thank those on the site who suggested that interested parties actually contact us, instead of speculating without even seeing our web site.

We had one email requesting information from a member of the Great War Forum, but would prefer writers to ask us questions rather than sounding like they are demanding answered.

Before I answer the gentalmans questions, let me provide some details about us. If any members of the Forum Members had spent time in Pozieres in the last 6 years they would know all about us and what we do.

In this period we have provided the greater porportion of monies necessary to fund the Commemorations for the Anniversary each year, as well as providing over $A15,000 to repair the Church after it was damaged. In addition, we were mad Honorary Citizens of Pozieres in 2008, and my wife and I were married there in 2009.

Now to answer the questions

a) Estimated Cost Of Park This project was originally proposed by The Village as a joint project of Governments of France, Germany, Australia, Our Association and the Moulin (Windmill) of France. The Australian Government said no, and the other two have indercated their support. The Moulin Association and the Governments will provide primary funding for the Windmill and our Association has to raise $A500,000 towards the park.

B)Estimated Cost of the School This project has been taken over by a Committee formed in Sydney, relieving us of the responsibility. Cost is not known to us, but it is planned by that Committee that they will raise the money through a "Gold Coin" day in NSW Schools. This has the support of the NSW State Government. No external funds have been sought, and our web page regarding the School has been left open to provide a POC for schools with the Organising Committe.

c) Supported by Local Authorities Yes - The Mayor is on the Moulin Association and the Dupty Mayor is the famer providing the land.

d) Official Planning Aproval Yes - was included on the last Village Infrastructure Plan submitted.

e) Australian Government Support No - Australia has settled for the perennial favourites for the Centenary of The ANZAC, Gallipoli, Villers - Bretonneux and Fromelles. The previous Government funded these and the New Government was left broke when they assumed Office.

f) Timescale Work should commence at the start of 2015 and finished to be opened 23rd July 2016 for the Centenary of the Battle. The Windmill may take more time to complete due to parts needed.

g) Insufficient Funds There is not a concern about Insufficient Funds. If necessary the Park will be reduced in scope, but will still be built. Sufficient Funds exsit at the moment to grass the whole site and erect a Memorial listing the names of the 7000 Australian Soldiers that died there.

h) Funds Shortfall As above

i) If Plans Scrapped We have retained contact of every donation that has, or will be made. If the Plans are scrapped for whatever reason, every donor will be contacted regarding return of their money.l

As regards the land being Farm Land. The Farmer is retiring at the start of 2015, his family does not want to farm, and the land will be leased on a 100 year lease. Legal documents to transfer the land were done last year.

Finally, we did not target anyone outside Australia for fund raising. Some of the UK friends we have meet in Pozieres who watch our Web Page and Face Book site cared enough to pass on to their friends and some how it got to your Forum. Our intent was to raise the money in Australia, but if persons from overseas cared enough to donate then we will accept and credit them accordingly. Since reading the adverse comments on the Forum, we have contacted them via our Face Book page to advise them of your Forum Members concerns, and offered them their money back.

I thank Norman for his questions. I will not be reading your Forum, so if anyone has questions you will have to email me or just make up the answers.

If anyone wants to question our credibility I suggest that they contact the Chariman of the Royal British Legion (Somme Branch)

As I will not be in Pozieres this year due to fund raising. I invite Forum Members to meet us at Pozieres 23rd July 2015 for the 99th Anniversary. Will be interesting to see if any bother showing up, or whether Pozieres is just a place they drive through on the way to Thiepval.

Barry Gracey (President) Pozieres Remembrance Association Inc. email barryg1954@bigpond.com

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Thanks for your response Barry, apologies that I posted first. I note that the target fund required for the park as detailed on the website is the equivalent of £270,000 GBP at the current rate of exchange.

Regards

Norman

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Mike I have to agree that it does seem to be a tad aggressive which I feel will not help the project, this is also noticeable on the website but why this is so I really have no idea. This does not help either.

Quote

"As I will not be in Pozieres this year due to fund raising. I invite Forum Members to meet us at Pozieres 23rd July 2015 for the 99th Anniversary. Will be interesting to see if any bother showing up, or whether Pozieres is just a place they drive through on the way to Thiepval".

A somewhat sweeping statement

Norman

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Yes Mike it is a large and expensive project if the Association intends to achieve that which is detailed on the plans. Just for interest their proposal to raise the money by selling individual bricks will require 10,000 donations of £27 GBP per brick. As I have already said if the park is completed as per the proposals there will still be ongoing funding required for maintenance and upkeep. Just in case anyone thinks that I am having a go at the Association then I am not but just stating what I see as the facts relating to the project. I also put these points as someone who was directly concerned with the fund raising and planning for a major memorial here in Bristol which was successful.

Norman

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I reckon Barry's tone won't do much to help his cause?

Mike

Glad I'm not the only one to feel that he came on a bit strong!

Jonathan

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And another thing, does he really believe that people just pass through Pozieres?! On the forum, I've read so many members' posts of the poignancy of the whole area. My research have been helped by so many as well as local guides. He stated that he wouldn't be reading the forum. Not only is that his loss but maybe he would realise we are not the enemy, that so many of us are passionate about the memory too and that, with a bit of grace, he and his group could benefit from what we have to offer.

Jonathan

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If the designation of the site as a memorial park protects the integrity of the land in perpetuity thus preventing encroachment or development by housing or industry, then I am all for it.

khaki

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I think his tone is unfortunate. I suppose that visiting from the far side of the world he an his colleagues are often constrained by time, and he probably does not realise how many regular participants in this forum walk parts of the battlefields much more often than they attend specific memorial occasions. Pozieres is quite special, and standing at the windmill site has meaning now for many of us. I'm not sure that I will feel the same about a reconstruction.

Norman's comment about maintenance is also important, I hope it has been fully taken into account.

Keith

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Just a few thoughts as I still think that there are many question to be answered in respect of this very important site. Will there be a professional archeological investigation before anything is built. Why if this place is so important and the intention is to preserve this part of the battlefield is it planned to build all the various structures as indicated on it. Surely this would be also be a good opportunity to recognize all the other forces who fought and died here for to omit any mention of these would in my opinion be a gross oversight and an injustice to all those who after all were “Comrades in Arms”. Finally given my experience with commissioning a memorial I am of the opinion that the total cost quoted is far to low considering the plans and I would almost double that figure if all the proposed structures are to be built.

Regards

Norman

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Let's hope it gets more attention than the 61st (2nd South Midland) at Fromelles.

Chris,

When the Fromelles Museum was being set up we wanted to include the British participation, not only in the 1916 battle, but also the 1915 Aubers Ridge battle. The problem was on approaching the British Government they were not interested in participating or stumping up any funds to tell the British story. I suspect if the Pozieres site gets up, the attitude will be the same - as they already of the Thiepval Visitors' Centre. So from us its not about leaving the Brits out - it really is getting the British Government interested. One could say we should fund the British story - but our Minister at the time was adamant each country contribute to tell their side of the story. Its galling I know.

I hope that clarifies the situation.

Regards

Chris

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Thanks, Chris. I appreciate that it seems British officialdom is not interested. The trouble is, focus on particular aspects of a battle or battlefield that is driven by funding just leads to creation or reinforcement of misinformation. I would rather nothing happen at all than for stories to be half-told.

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I say good luck to Barry and his committee, these sort of things take an awful lot of time and commitment and the carping criticism that this forum dishes out to people or organisations who get have such commitment is at times, shameful.

It is hardly surprising that Barry is a bit miffed given the comments and I agree with his quote in the first line of his post.

TR

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Morning Terry. I'm not even an armchair expert. :w00t:

I think Barry might have put it differently. The Forum exists to air different views. Non?

The project might also learn something, or have it's attention drawn to something it hadn't thought about. Any criticism isn't personal, not from me at least.

Cheers Mike

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