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Remembered Today:

Restore & Move or Leave?


Gareth Davies

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Ignore the strange spellings of Flers and Lesboeufs I am curious what people think of this initiative to move and restore a private memorial.

http://westernfrontassociation.com/great-war-people/memorials/5116-captain-h-p-meakin.html#sthash.TFUVY9ly.3EIfN8Jn.dpbs

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A difficult one - on a practical basis the ownership appears to have fallen upon the local authority and the decision rests with them however the reason for moving it seems a bit weak. If the land it was on was purchased by the family as a location close to where he died then why not leave it where it is and do any renovation needed at that spot.

Craig

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why not leave it where it is and do any renovation needed at that spot.

It seems that access to it is difficult.

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I agree. Leave in situ and restore there. It's only a few metres in from the road anyhow and still commands a view. It was where the family placed it after all.

TT

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I've absolutely no problems "in principle" with memorials being moved if it is more convenient to do so. I live in an area which, before 1974, was an Urban District Council. There are four war memorials in the area - two of which have been relocated over the years. The cenotaph in Manchester's city centre has also recently been moved. None of these now seem anything of a lesser commemoration.

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Steven Broomfield

Renovating/restoring and moving to a more accessible spot, where it will be better cared-for and more frequently visited seems sensible to me. The man and his sacrifice are therefore still remembered, and can also be "shared" with a wider audience.

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Is there ever an argument for leaving memorials to decay and thus eventually disappear?

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This is not a new problem, but one which the WFA has been involved almost since it's formation in one way or another. Few know of the memorial, few visit, there is no family to look after it, repair will be expensive. Hard choices.

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I really don't think accessibility is an issue but if surrounded by crops in summer even if a few metres only and moving it means everyone's happy and the memorial is restored I suppose it's a no brainer. Go for it.

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I am one of those who has volunteered to help with this project, so may I add a little light before this thread generates too much heat?

We completely agree that the best outcome would be for the memorial to be restored in situ. But having worked on this for some years, we do not believe that this is practical. The damage to the railings and plinth has come about because the farmer wants to maximise his crop and cultivate the land right up to the concrete. Farm machinery is not precise and accidents happen. Negotiations are ongoing so I am trying to be diplomatic here. Indignation and calls that someone should pay will not help us progress.

Having considered several options, moving the memorial out of harm’s way, where it can be looked after without any issues over access is the only practical solution.

Historical context and ‘authenticity’ are important, but an extant memorial a few yards from its original location seems much better than a pile of rubble and a few lines in a guidebook lamenting its passing. There is considerable precedent for this, not the least being the concentration of burials from smaller cemeteries.

We have consulted the stakeholders we can find. The land owner, the mayors of both communes bordering the site, Culturel d’Albert, CWGC and not least the Coldstream Guards. We would love to have the support of someone from Meakin’s family, but inquiries by the Guards over several years, and our own recent inquiries have had a negative result.

There is still a debate about ‘correcting’ the inscription which states Capt Meakin was in charge of the MG section rather than the trench mortars. The original is what was prescribed by the family and a better solution may be to add an information plaque giving the correct information and explaining why the memorial was moved.

Please believe that considerable thought and effort has gone in to this project. We have no connection to Capt Meakin or the Guards, but someone has to grip the problem.

We simply wish to preserve a memorial to a brave man who sacrificed his life for his country, and by association, the 75,000 other men on the Somme who have no known grave.

We welcome constructive suggestions – and also welcome contributions.

Thanks, Gareth

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Steven Broomfield

Gareth - thanks and well done, and I agree with Mr Hartley regarding the plaque suggestion.

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We do indeed leave Guidons, Standards and Colours to fade away but old ones are always replaced; the ones in the possession of the Regiment/Battalion are new.

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We do indeed leave Guidons, Standards and Colours to fade away but old ones are always replaced; the ones in the possession of the Regiment/Battalion are new.

Your stance on those preserved rather than laid up? These tend to be milita,TF or TA but some do "live" on.

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I'm not sure I have a view.

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I am very pleased to report that a member of Capt Meakin's family has heard about the project and made contact with us.

He is fully supportive of our plans and has made a contribution to the fund.

Grateful thanks to anyone reading this who has made a donation. Still some way to go to achieve our target but looking promising.

Gareth

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  • 1 month later...

Here is the other side of the argument from Tim Fox-Godden:

http://1914-1918.invisionzone.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=233679&hl=

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I think that the move would be sad, but entirely pragmatic. The memorial is currently stranded well off of the road and amongst a field of typically intensively farmed Somme agricultural land - field isn't really the right word, as there are no borders to it, just part of a vast 'prairie'. I should imagine that the landowner would be delighted were it to be moved, as it must be very difficult to cultivate around it with the enormous contemporary farm equipment - the retention of a path must be all but impossible, the only practical method being the customary spraying of a passage of glyphosphate through the crop during the summer months. As it stands at the moment. the memorial is to all intents and purposes inaccessible, and it looks not only terribly sad, but doomed to inevitable destruction and loss. Tim Fox-Godden's comments are entirely correct, and I fully agree with them, but for the sheer impracticality of the status-quo, or of the in-situ restoration and, most importantly, ongoing conservation.

However, I would not make a principled stand on the matter. Whether the monument is to stay where it is - my hope indeed, despite my deep reservations - or be moved to the roadside, I will be making a contribution.

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I must say that I would favour something close to the road. You have to make a real effort to visit as it is - the last time I was there it was a sad, mouldering wreck: more would, I am sure, stop if it was closer to the road. A plaque incorporating a little diagram to show its original location would be fine I feel (we are not talking a great distance here) and would also serve to indicate that we respect the needs of today's farmer and honour the memory of the fallen, which is surely what it is all about?

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  • 5 years later...
Frajohn

As an update, the memorial to Captain Meakin is now in its new position. 

 

1459922141_Meakin3.jpg.f2860dc51276e523f4d33f1509f7d2b0.jpg

 

 

1706722787_Meakin2.jpg.201c61948525f3989108ea2c547ee6ca.jpg

 

 

Meakin.jpg.2f2561f6abf5662c5ad446aa709b8052.jpg

 

 

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johnboy

Thanks for the update and pics

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