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Remembered Today:

Unsung heroes of (modern) Gallipoli


Bryn
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I've been on the peninsula for about a month, and I just wanted to express my personal appreciation of the fine work that the gardeners and stonemasons of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission do.

Almost every day I see them at one cemetery or another. I saw them yesterday at Hill 10, replacing the slabs in the Cross of Sacrifice, and the day before at Pink Farm, mowing the grass and tending the flowers. A few days before that they were at Hill 60 and also at New Zealand No 2 Outpost.

I met one if the stonemasons a few times and it seems he and his colleagues are considered so good they also do the CWGC work in places like Papua New Guinea.

I know it's a full-time (and apparently much sought-after) job, and so it probably shouldn't be surprising to see them at work. All the same I wanted to put on record my appreciation for what they do.

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Hear, hear. They do a magnificent job everywhere. Some of the cemeteries may go for weeks or months without a visit yet these guys still maintain them perfectly.

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I must say that struck me too, especially in those out of the way places in Egypt and Tunisia.

My appreciation for their dedication to their task.

cheers

Shirley

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I must say that struck me too, especially in those out of the way places in Egypt and Tunisia.

My appreciation for their dedication to their task.

cheers

Shirley

Absolutely agree! I was at the 'Longstop Hill' cemetery in Tunisia last September - absolutely immaculate even though I and my 20 fellow travellers were the first to stop there for some time.

What astounded me, though, was how none of my fellow travellers, all English (bar one German born but naturalised) and with an average age of 60-65 had apparently visited a CWG cemetery before! And only one of them, whose father was shot down in the BofB 1940, and has a CWG memorial in their home church, seemed to know much about the work of the CWGC. I bet that will change once the centenary celebrations get going!

Trajan

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  • 1 month later...

Forgive my ignorance, but I have a question about these CWGC employees. Are they strictly of UK/Former Commonwealth nationality, or are some of them hired locally from within the country where the memorial is located?

What I'm really interested to know is if these custodians are predominantly from the UK, do they live permanently in the "host" country and how long do they serve as a member of the CWGC?

I've only visited a few sites in France and around Ypres, but I was awestruck by the care that goes in to maintaining the beautiful grounds of the many memorials. What a fantastic contribution these individuals make in honor of the fallen!

Do Germany and France employ similar organizations?

Tom

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Tom

It varies on the nationality of the employees. I've met employees in France who are French and British, the British live there and they are employed in the same way as any other job i.e. stay until you leave for another job. Some have done many years (into decades) work for the CWGC.

Germany has a similar organisation called the Volksbund Deutsche Kriegsgräberfürsorge The main difference between the VdK and CWGC is that the German organisation is funded by charitable donations and not governments as is the case with CWGC. The French have the Memoire Des Hommes run by their Ministry of Defence.

Glen

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  • 3 weeks later...

Just a quick note in reply to Tom's query. All of the gardeners and stone masons working for the Commission here in Turkey are Turkish, with a foreign head of the CWGC office. Over the years there have been English, Australian and even one Frenchman, a long time employee of the commission, heads of the regional office.

Some of the CWGC staff are third generation, with at least one having a grandfather who helped construct the cemeteries in the 1920s. And yes, they take great pride in their work.

In years past, the gardeners were a bit unhappy over the fact that there were so few visitors to some of the more far flung cemeteries on the peninsula, such as Azmak Dere, or Lalababa, as they wanted people to see they cared for each and every cemetery with the same care, not just those on the regular tour routes. With the steady rise in private tours visiting have meant more people are seeing and appreciating the work of the CWGC staff here.

Cheers

Bill

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