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Remembered Today:

Proposed new Memorial Park at Pozières


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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

I find this comment from Mr Gracey quite upsetting, to suggest that Pozieres is just a place we drive through to get to Thiepval. I am sure, that like me, members of this Forum have a real depth of feeling for Pozieres and what happened there. Three years ago I booked into a B&B opposite Le Tommy for seven nights just so I could concentrate my tour itinerary around that area. I have met many Australians there over the years and we had a mutual respect for each other that continues to this day. I will plan on being there on 23 July 2015 and hope to meet Mr Gracey then. He will not be aware of this as he is no longer reading this forum. That is sad.

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I agree with you that is is a pity that apparently the President of the Association is not reading the comments on this major and influential forum and in my opinion it would be good if he both softened his somewhat antagonistic attitude and followed the opinions and questions that are being properly posted here. What did he expect when his website depicts a large development on one of the most important and pivotal locations on the Western Front. I reiterate that of course it is a fine thing to preserve such places and protect them from unsympathetic development but according the plans as published that is not what is intended bearing in mind the multitude of buildings, memorials, screen walls, coach/car park and toilets as are plainly shown on the plans.

Norman

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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.

I visit Pozieres perhaps three or four times per year and have done for years now. I go to walk around, see the ground, take the odd photo, explain things to any guests that are travelling with me, etc. On occasion I pop into Le Tommy for lunch. I honestly can't say that I have ever heard of the Pozieres Remembrance Association before now and to be honest I am not sure how I would. Is it represented there somehow? Have I missed something?

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OK

His reply was, as I said unfortunate, but he will indeed have been working hard to develop the plan, and undoubtedly his and the association's focus has from the point of view of some of us, not necessarily produced something that will enhance the overall perspective of the battlefield. Their intentions are clearly positive, but equally there is no reason why the plan should not be debated. I have sent a friendly message off-forum which I hope he will read and consider when hopefully he is able to take a calmer view of concerns and criticisms. I have tried to explain that perhaps more than most visitors to the battlefields it is posters here who probably visit Pozieres, often on foot, and not just as a stopping off point on the way to Thiepval.

I feel sadly, fairly clear that the plans are probably too far advanced for concerns about the wider perspectives of the battlefield to be taken into account now, and I'm not at all sure that a replica/reconstructed windmill will add anything positive to the location. The site is sufficiently moving now.

I won't be on the Somme this summer, but I might be there sooner to appreciate the site once more as it is now. The summer will never be my time of choice for visiting that region, and I prefer not to be drawn into too many events anyway. I'll be looking to avoid all anniversaries on the Western Front and in other theatres of war for the next five years I suspect.

In any event, let us keep discussion, as it virtually all has been civilised. In the end, our respect for those who served is a common bond that extends round the world.

Keith

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I visit Pozieres perhaps three or four times per year and have done for years now. I go to walk around, see the ground, take the odd photo, explain things to any guests that are travelling with me, etc. On occasion I pop into Le Tommy for lunch. I honestly can't say that I have ever heard of the Pozieres Remembrance Association before now and to be honest I am not sure how I would. Is it represented there somehow? Have I missed something?

It appears to be very active in Australia in and around Melbourne with fund raising and social events in which Mr Gracey appears to play a leading role. There is some connection with the local rugby league club. It does appear that the initiative is coming from Oz with not much activity in consultation with France (at least that's how it looks in various announcements on the web)

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Well, let me be candid. The response from Gracey was highly defensive and rude and I must add, seems a little vague in spots. (For someone who's getting a free vehicle out of this deal, chasing down all those donated bricks, I'd think he'd have a little more grace and tact.) This strikes me as a vanity project for someone who is literally enjoying a free ride and who'd go to the opening of an envelope if he could get his mug in the photo.

I am not impressed by the defensive tone, in particular, as it leads me to conclude that this is not really well thought out beyond a selfish and

parochial-minded instinct that wrongly thinks Australia has been short-changed in the memorial department.

I am likewise not impressed by the "plan" for the memorial. There is a crass and boorish tone at the heart of it that could be just a bad joke if I didn't know otherwise. This is the sort of project dreamed up by dreary minds who seem to think that a fitting tribute to the sacrifices at Pozieres must be hammered home with concrete and poor design, since subtlety and finesse is outside the scope of their tethered imagination.

Let's see, the group obtains a patch of this sacred ground, (it is sacred and still likely contains the remains of missing men) and the plan, the best they can come up with is to plaster it over with a parking lot and build a replica windmill? What are they, ten years old? Really?

What an appalling project, dreamed up by appalling people.

I'd love to buy one of their bricks, as long as I can throw it.....and throw it very hard....

Anyhoo, off to work! cheers, Peter.

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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

Mike

With respect, I think you have missed the point. When Barry was talking about "armchair generals`` he meant that he objected to the il-informed comments that were being made, and it is quite understandable that he was fed up with that. As it happened a perfect example of that turned up with the mention of the participation of the 48th and 61st Divisions at Pozieres and this project leaving them out. Just a few posts later we find out, from an Australian member, that in fact the group tried to include them in it but there was no interest. And if the author of that particular section was really interested in the subject, why hasn't he done something about raising a memorial to those Divisions?

My other argument is that this drip-feed of criticism has a negative effect on the forum which is not as "important and influential" as Norman seems to think. I could quite easily make a list of negative threads that have appeared which have no substance whatsoever ,and it is that negativity that actually puts people off.

No worries and best wishes

TR

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Just to set the record straight if you are referring to Post.47 and the apparent non-participation by the British Government this of course is in respect of Fromelles Museum and not Pozieres Park as the quote below makes clear. By the same token the Pozieres Park project is not officially supported by the Australian Government see item (e) in Post 36 so it would be extremely unlikely for the British Government to be involved in the erection of any memorial tablets on the Pozieres site..

Quote

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

Norman

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My question above about 48th (South Midland) Division was in no way to point out omission - I have not the faintest idea what is being proposed to be presented by this park and what is not. I was genuinely asking if it is to be included and I am not sure how my question could be read otherwise. I certainly hope it is more inclusive than the Fromelles presentation appears to be with regard to the 61st. The venture would certainly get my attention and a donation if it was so. Let's see.

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I hope I am wrong but all the Australian material I've seen suggests that this is intended to be a purely Australian effort intended to memorialise Australians. Mr Gracey's somewhat ungracious posting does nothing to alter this perception. It all has a sort of Sir Les Patterson feel to it

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Omission is exactly how the post reads though. It is a very different thing making a donation than actually taking up a complete project ,which those who have undertaken with the Pozieres project.

TR

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I have to say I'm very concerned about his project. My uncle died in the assault on Pozieres Ridge and is still missing. His remains still lie in that field alongside the Bapaume Road. There are hundreds of his missing comrades buried in that field alongside him.

The whole idea saddens me.

The memorials as they stand seem respectful enough to me. Let them lie in peace.

RIP. CHARLES EDWARD CULLEN.
Private 2364 28th Bn., Australian Infantry, A.I.F.
KIA. 29 July 1916.

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Precisely why I would advocate a full professional archeological survey before any construction is even attempted on the site first and foremost of course to ascertain whether there are human remains here which would seem to be very possible but to also check for unexploded munitions. The trouble is the more you think about the proposals based on the plans as shown on the website (see post 11) the more you begin to wonder whether this whole project has been properly thought through.

Norman

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It appears to be very active in Australia in and around Melbourne with fund raising and social events in which Mr Gracey appears to play a leading role. There is some connection with the local rugby league club. It does appear that the initiative is coming from Oz with not much activity in consultation with France (at least that's how it looks in various announcements on the web)

It seems you may be correct but I had not heard of them at all until this thread started. I hope that members here don't put all of us from Australia and Melbourne, in particular, in the same frame of mind. The more I read, the more I wonder about the motives of this group. Is the project really about a memorial, or simply about a possible money making exercise? I ask this because the defensive and impatient tone of Barry suggests to me that there are things being hidden.

On the other hand, the villagers of Pozieres are entitled to do as they please with their land. It is, after all, privately owned. All we can hope for is that their use of it is done with the reverence we would like.

Jonathan

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I am trying to understand the just what the various proposed constructions on the site actually are (Post 11) so here are the translations of the notations reading from left to right. The bold text indicates the original French for which I have no translation.

Maintenance

Guardian home (Security?)

Storage

Nurseries

Parking for the general public – are those cycle sheds on the plan?

Project accuell

Part museum

Toilets

Administration

Remembrance project

Statues of characters

Memorial

Rose des vents

Parking pour installation spectacle

Mill project

Miller’s house

Performance space

There is no description of what appears to be a compass rose, obelisk and the large semi-circular object. The flags depicted are French, German and Australian. If members can add to or clarify any of this please do so.

Norman

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auchonvillerssomme

The cost of security, maintenance and upkeep for a site that size will be enormous and unless someone makes a real effort at telling the story of the British (as opposed to Commonwealth) activity it will still be somewhere the majority just pass through or stop for the toilets.

I haven't read all the posts, is there an anticipated footfall in the business plan, if so how have they worked it out? Other issues will be the inevitable delays when human remains are found or even other items of archaeological interest, it is alongside a Roman road.

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It seems you may be correct but I had not heard of them at all until this thread started. I hope that members here don't put all of us from Australia and Melbourne, in particular, in the same frame of mind. The more I read, the more I wonder about the motives of this group. Is the project really about a memorial, or simply about a possible money making exercise? I ask this because the defensive and impatient tone of Barry suggests to me that there are things being hidden.

On the other hand, the villagers of Pozieres are entitled to do as they please with their land. It is, after all, privately owned. All we can hope for is that their use of it is done with the reverence we would like.

Jonathan

I'd no more conflate Melbourne as being representative of Australia than I would say Leeds representing Britain or Lille France. Nor would I assume there is such a thing as a "typical Australian" any more than there is a typical Briton although Australians as a whole do tend to be a distinct set of characters. Any comments I have made have been directed at the scheme rather than the nationality and I dare say would still have been made even if it had come from a different nationality

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I'd no more conflate Melbourne as being representative of Australia than I would say Leeds representing Britain or Lille France. Nor would I assume there is such a thing as a "typical Australian" any more than there is a typical Briton although Australians as a whole do tend to be a distinct set of characters. Any comments I have made have been directed at the scheme rather than the nationality and I dare say would still have been made even if it had come from a different nationality

Yes, I am sorry if I came across as accusatory. I, too, have been directing my thoughts to the scheme yet it irks me that the scheme has been fed and growing within a virtual stone's throw. But I can't speak for the actions and minds of others. And neither should they for me.

Jonathan

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Mr Gracey`s defensive (and frankly insulting) attitude did seem rather odd which always raises suspicions of motives. The development also seems very 'overdone'. I dislike the idea of the rebuilt windmill, it smacks of Disneyland.

Other parks (Thiepval, Newfoundland, Vimy) tend to be informative, low key and respectful. These should be the examples to follow.

The one person who could shed some light and opinion on the proposed park might be Dominique at Le Tommy. He does after all live and run a business in Pozieres. Might it be possible for a forum member or two to get his opinion ?

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  • 3 weeks later...

I only stumbled across this thread today.

IF the project will come as planned,

  • will the German dead still lying there be ploughed under again or covered with concrete during/after construction work?
  • will the present silent remains of the German windmill stronghold destroyed and a reconstructed mill be erected on the same spot?
  • will Australia recognize the ultimate sacrifices of the German soldiers kia in Pozieres fairly (right or wrong my country), or will there be a sole glorification of diggers in the exhibitions?
  • does the association recognize the prevailing European character of reconciliation?
  • is the association aware that this is holy land for ALL former belligerents (to include Germans) and that the association and the project therefore has a special responsibility to perpetuate this character?

I wish the association good luck. The project for me looks better than a future housing project when the present farmer gives up his profession. My best regards to the secretary Yvonne, who looked over my shoulder at the Thiepval filming of the BBC in July '13

egbert,

an insignificant arm chair expert, and yes-always stopping at the windmill when visiting the Somme

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Ill-considered and ill- conceived in my opinion and far too much of a parochial view of the conflict in this place. Egbert you make a good point about recognition of the German sacrifices here and you will see from previous posts on this thread that members have made the same comments in respect of the British soldiers who fell on this ground. I disagree that a housing development would be worse than what is planned which happily exists only on paper at this time and I would suggest that the land be preserved as a memorial to all who fought here. There is to my mind a parallel here in the current situation with the “Glory Hole” at La Boisselle where I understand that the owner of the land has suspended any further excavations due to various concerns, I wonder if the landowner of the field in Pozieres will feel the same when he sees what is actually being built on his land.

Norman

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I visit Pozieres twice a year, visiting the area in general and the area where my relative (as below) was killed, his body never found.

I am not looking forward to this being built.

Mick

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  • will the German dead still lying there be ploughed under again or covered with concrete during/after construction work?
  • will the present silent remains of the German windmill stronghold destroyed and a reconstructed mill be erected on the same spot?
  • will Australia recognize the ultimate sacrifices of the German soldiers kia in Pozieres fairly (right or wrong my country), or will there be a sole glorification of diggers in the exhibitions?
  • does the association recognize the prevailing European character of reconciliation?
  • is the association aware that this is holy land for ALL former belligerents (to include Germans) and that the association and the project therefore has a special responsibility to perpetuate this character?

Yesterday I sent an email to Barry Gracey, President Pozieres Remembrance Association Inc, with all my doubts expressed.

I am very grateful that he answered promptly all my queries. I also noted that he is not an arrogant type as feared by some here from his earlier response in this thread, but a down to earth chap who cares about soldiers kia.

I will post an excerpt of his reply email for which again I thank him very much:

"Dear Egbert
Thank you for your email.
To allay your concerns,
1. Any Soldiers of any nationality found during the works will be treated with all the respect that I would demand for Australian Soldiers.
2. The remains of the windmill will not be touched. The Moulin Association of Pozieres will be building a copy of the windmill as it was before the fighting, but this will be done further back in the Park and the current windmill site will be untouched.
3. This is not an Australian Project. This is a Project of our Association, the Windmill Association of Pozieres, and we hope to get some support of the French and German Governments. Our Government said NO. This will not be totally Australian, as we had always intended to erect statutes to both the Brandenburg Division and the Prussian Guard. They were Soldiers just like our Men, and should be honoured as well. What we will be able to do will depend on how much money I can raise, but the sacrifices of German Soldiers will be recognised.
4. Yes, the Association does recognise the European character of reconciliation. I was a Soldier in the Australian Army for 27 years, and I always intended that the project would be tri-national, not glorify war, and merely educate and inform as to what happened at Pozieres, and recognise the sacrifices of Our Soldiers, your Soldiers, French Soldiers and the civilians in the area that were affected by the Battle.
5. I am aware that this is HOLY Ground. Pozieres saw the greatest loss of life in Battle that Australia has ever had, so it is an important site for us. This area is described by Charles Bean the Australian Military Historian as the one place on earth most drenched in Australian sacrifice. The German Soldiers of Pozieres also fell in their droves there. At the moment I have raised enough money to fence the Park, level and grass it. How good the park becomes depends on how much money I can raise, but rest assured that this land will be protected into the future and visitors will be able to walk in a lovely grassed park. As little of the park as possible will be built on or concreted, with the majority being reserved for grassed and garden areas. If you wish to see the draft plans they can be found on our web page www.pozieresremembered.com.au on the Memorial Park page...................................."
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Nothing new in his reply Egbert just the same old vague statements.

1.0 So is there to be a professional archeological investigation prior to any construction

2.0 A copy of the Windmill, I believe Disneyland call this “reimagining”

3.0 Again no mention of the British involvement for yes we were there.

4.0 Tri-National what French, Australian and German hang on what about the Brits

5.0 What has Charles Beans opinion got to do with this, as for not much will be built on just look at the plans

Norman

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