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Ronan McGreevy

CWGC confirms that John Kipling is buried in the correct grave

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laughton

Interesting, I had a posting on this on our site just the other day and was sent here as we could never get CWGC to accept 6000 yd separation.

I did map it:

http://cefresearch.ca/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=39&t=13385

Where the events took place would be on Map 36c NW3 for Loos and so in September 1915 at about 36c.H21.c.5.7 (correction see below: 36c.H25.c.5.7 bad typo!) as shown on the map below. I have also marked where the remains were exhumed, so believe it or not, Lt. John Kipling's body traveled some 6,000 yards (a mere 3.4 miles) after he was killed in the woods. Would we take the case of a Canadian to the CWGC if the body moved 6,000 yards underground?

84so6ie5qar5rwg6g.jpg

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ss002d6252

I'm waiting for a reply to my FOI request to the MOD. Nothing yet but it's still within the time limit for now.

Craig

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Dai Bach y Sowldiwr

Where the events took place would be on Map 36c NW3 for Loos and so in September 1915 at about 36c.H21.c.5.7 as shown on the map below.

84so6ie5qar5rwg6g.jpg

Hi Laughton,

The square with the arrows in it that contains the quarry & Chalk Pit Wood is 36c.H.25.c is it not? (you quote 36c.H.21.c?)

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brummell

Say the body is exhumed and tested, which may well involve the exhumation of Rudyard Kipling as well if no living descendant is suitable. The test is carried out, it turns out it is not John Kipling's remains in there after all - it is whoever the Holts say it is, or the other Irish Guards possibility.

Who would gain? Not the man himself; he's dead. Not the CWGC, which would then be in the extremely distasteful and morally questionable position of acquiescing to exhumation and testing from whoever wanted it, or the very difficult position of justifying it in one case but not others. Not the vast majority of us, either, who I think would be very sad to see the reputation of CWGC suffer and their freedom and ability to maintain, commemorate and educate constrained. The peace which has settled over the cemeteries and memorials may well be spoiled, and for what?

The only beneficiaries I can see would be the relative handful of descendants - assuming there are any, and that they care particularly - and those with a purely academic interest who simply want to scratch an itch or be proved right. Whilst being proved right is one of life's great pleasures, I don't believe the interests of those people - or the small numbers of descendants, to be honest - outweigh those of the rest of us?

In an idea world, the Commission would never have questionably 're-identified' the remains in the first place - but since they have, rather than punish them for it by picking at the scab it would be much better for all concerned if we let the matter rest.

- brummell

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ss002d6252

Say the body is exhumed and tested, which may well involve the exhumation of Rudyard Kipling as well if no living descendant is suitable. The test is carried out, it turns out it is not John Kipling's remains in there after all - it is whoever the Holts say it is, or the other Irish Guards possibility.

Who would gain? Not the man himself; he's dead. Not the CWGC, which would then be in the extremely distasteful and morally questionable position of acquiescing to exhumation and testing from whoever wanted it, or the very difficult position of justifying it in one case but not others. Not the vast majority of us, either, who I think would be very sad to see the reputation of CWGC suffer and their freedom and ability to maintain, commemorate and educate constrained. The peace which has settled over the cemeteries and memorials may well be spoiled, and for what?

The only beneficiaries I can see would be the relative handful of descendants - assuming there are any, and that they care particularly - and those with a purely academic interest who simply want to scratch an itch or be proved right. Whilst being proved right is one of life's great pleasures, I don't believe the interests of those people - or the small numbers of descendants, to be honest - outweigh those of the rest of us?

In an idea world, the Commission would never have questionably 're-identified' the remains in the first place - but since they have, rather than punish them for it by picking at the scab it would be much better for all concerned if we let the matter rest.

- brummell

I'm not 100% up on the idea of exhumation and DNA testing - I'd say it has it's place when it's appropriate (clearly appropriate is up for debate) - but I would never say it should be ruled out.

What I do think hurts the CWGC more would be the reluctance to say 'we may have been wrong' , and evidence suggests they may have been. I don't think forming an opinion on the evidence which is different from actively challenging it, is a bad thing. If we didn't form opinions on evidence then this site would be a very boring place.

Craig

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brummell

Craig, I strongly agree - the Commission should show their workings on this one, since they put themselves in this position in 1992 and are evidently very confident that they are correct. Why not lance the boil and let us all share their confidence in this case?

If that prompts similar challenges, that wouldn't bother me particularly - provided it was understood that unless someone could categorically prove without resort to exhumation that remains were one man's rather than another's, or unidentified remains definitely were those of a named man, then no changes would be made.

- brummell

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laughton

Hi Laughton,

The square with the arrows in it that contains the quarry & Chalk Pit Wood is 36c.H.25.c is it not? (you quote 36c.H.21.c?)

Correct, my typo sorry.

The CWGC has stated to us that under no circumstances will they allow remains in a grave under their control to be disturbed in any fashion. We were proposing the use of Ground Penetrating Radar with a probescope to take a sample through a hole the size of a pencil. NOT ALLOWED. Similar to what they now use in a surgical procedure. We have not given up.

Here is the Google version: (I estimated where the front lines were base on the literature - we Canadians not so familiar with UK battles)

y60cnn6t9tg2nrg6g.jpg

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ss002d6252

Craig, I strongly agree - the Commission should show their workings on this one, since they put themselves in this position in 1992 and are evidently very confident that they are correct. Why not lance the boil and let us all share their confidence in this case?

If that prompts similar challenges, that wouldn't bother me particularly - provided it was understood that unless someone could categorically prove without resort to exhumation that remains were one man's rather than another's, or unidentified remains definitely were those of a named man, then no changes would be made.

- brummell

I'm hoping that the MOD will respond to my FOI request and there'll be something in that which gives an idea as to what made their mind up - I find it hard to believe that they simply bowed to pressure, something must have given then the idea it was Kipling.

In some ways it can be easier to deal with 'new' bodies as they're re-discovered as a lot of the difficulties exhumation are already dealt with. A lot of historical graves must be wrong - would anyone know if bodies A & B had been mixed up whilst being originally buried (or re-buried on concentration).

Craig

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Andy Wade

In the grand scheme of things it doesn't matter a great deal if a man isn't precisely in the right spot directly under precisely the right headstone. Some mistakes must have been made over the years. The men who died are long past caring and what really counts is that they are remembered in the first place. I think they might be shocked that we still honour them a hundred years after their deaths and plan to remember them in perpetuity. It's tragic that so many are lost in a foreign field and worse still that a great deal more may not be remembered at all.

We have two local men buried side by side in a cemetery near to me. One now has a headstone and the other is right next to him but in an unmarked grave. It's a sad state of affairs, but there was nothing we could do for the second man's case and all we can do now is highlight his name for as long as we can. His family do now know where he is buried. Ultimately though, his grave will be forgotten and the man with the headstone will be remembered for longer.

There is a question of trying our level best to be accurate and show proof of it as necessary. I have an issue with it if someone at CWGC has not done that, and I recognise the need for them to prove it. If they've made a mistake then there's a need to come clean about it, but that remains to be seen. Having the question of proof hanging over them is just making matters worse and the longer it goes on, the harder it will be to retain their reputation which as far as I was concerned at least, was untarnished until now.

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Guest

" I have an issue with it if someone at CWGC has not done that " It must have been more than one, and at the top level?

Mike

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ss002d6252

" I have an issue with it if someone at CWGC has not done that " It must have been more than one, and at the top level?

Mike

Or at a low level and those at the top did the "Are you sure it's right ?" and signed it off without looking.

There is a question of trying our level best to be accurate and show proof of it as necessary. I have an issue with it if someone at CWGC has not done that, and I recognise the need for them to prove it. If they've made a mistake then there's a need to come clean about it, but that remains to be seen. Having the question of proof hanging over them is just making matters worse and the longer it goes on, the harder it will be to retain their reputation which as far as I was concerned at least, was untarnished until now.

A bigger question is whether the CWGC/MOD should be publicly accountable for the decisions that are made and whether the reports (or even key point summaries) should be openly available for perusal without having to chase around for them.

Craig

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Andy Wade

" I have an issue with it if someone at CWGC has not done that " It must have been more than one, and at the top level?

Mike

Absolutely.

Or at a low level and those at the top did the "Are you sure it's right ?" and signed it off without looking.

A bigger question is whether the CWGC/MOD should be publicly accountable for the decisions that are made and whether the reports (or even key point summaries) should be openly available for perusal without having to chase around for them.

Craig

Indeed Craig, when you have to make Freedom of Information requests for things that should be openly on display for something as important as this then the alarm bells are already ringing.

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ss002d6252

CWGC are not subject to FOI Click

Mike

I sent the FOI to the MOD.

Craig

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Guest

I sent the FOI to the MOD.

Craig

Thanks Craig. Look forward to hearing the reply.

Mike

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ss002d6252

Thanks Craig. Look forward to hearing the reply.

Mike

So am I - I think I may have wrongly said CWGC in one of my earlier posts. The deadline should be the 23rd so if I've not heard I'll chase it up and see what I get (if anything).

Craig

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laughton

Using the same approach we have been using on our CANADIAN UNKNOWN PROJECT I downloaded the data from the CWGC for the LOOS MEMORIAL, just for the period from September 20, 1915 to September 30, 1915. I then take that and sort it by Rank, Date, Regiment, Unit, Name, etc. in various formats. I was surprised to see the following: (using the 1st reported death date initially)

[ Link to Excel Spreadsheet ] will download or view on-line

  • 134 Lieutenants
    - 78 on September 25th
    - 36 on September 26th
    - 11 on September 27th
    - 2 on September 28th
    - 6 on September 29th
    - 1 on September 30th
  • 195 Second Lieutenants
    - 123 on September 25th
    - 38 on September 26th
    - 15 on September 27th
    - 11 on September 28th
    - 6 on September 29th
    - 2 on September 30th

As I am not all that familiar with the British Regiments and details of the ORBAT & BATTLES (other than in the 26th NF and RIR where my grandfathers served) I can not easily look at the list and say "those X would not count as they were not in the area". I do know that is important so perhaps someone with more knowledge can look at that aspect.

With those large numbers, all on the Loos Memorial at that short period of time, one would have to question if all of those men were checked as candidates for the remains in that grave. Certainly the CWGC would make us do that if we were proposing a solution.

Some would think the Canadian process was simpler as we did not have 2nd Lieutenants in the Great War. Unfortunately, the CWGC lists a large number of Canadian dead as 2nd Lieutenants, which gives some credence to confusion in ranks. If we were looking for a Lieutenant in an unknown grave, and there were none, then we would be more inclined to look at the Captains as many of the Lieutenants were Acting Captains and so recorded as Captains posthumously. Therefore any of those that were "Acting Captains" (Temporary Captains) would need to be checked as well.

A final question for our friends across the pond relates to other battles in the area of Loos. For example, we as Canadians have to also include any of the men from the attack on Hill 70 at Lens in August 1917 when we are looking at casualties in that area. I took a quick look at the number of unknowns listed on the Loos Memorial by year:

  • 14,992 in 1915
  • 2,789 in 1916
  • 734 in 1917
  • 2,134 in 1918
  • 3 in 1919

I added a tab to the spreadsheet (blue) that is sorted by Regiment as well from which I see there are 75 Irish Guards on the Loos Memorial and all but 2 are from the 2nd Battalion. Clifford and Law remain as the only other 2nd Lieutenants, both KIA on the 27th so they are in the wrong area as well. I believe it is likely one of the 78 Lieutenants KIA on the 25th that are in that grave. Which units can be eliminated from that list as not being in the front line at or about Map Coordinates 36c Sector G25?

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Bernard_Lewis

Hmmm. The MOD might respond that it simply doesn't hold the information as its with the CWGC, a different 'organisation'.

Interesting...

Bernard

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ss002d6252

Hmmm. The MOD might respond that it simply doesn't hold the information as its with the CWGC, a different 'organisation'.

Interesting...

Bernard

I was thinking that may happen as well as a way to not answer any questions. In theory though the MOD should hold copies of any file passed to the CWGC but time should tell.

Craig

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Andy Wade

I was under the impression that the MOD makes the decisions and the CWGC commemorates the men and women. When we applied for men to be added to the perpetual roll of honour, it went to the MOD via the CWGC. Surely the MOD would be in possession of all the facts?

Terry Denham or Chris Harley might be the best ones to ask about it.

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ss002d6252

I was under the impression that the MOD makes the decisions and the CWGC commemorates the men and women. When we applied for men to be added to the perpetual roll of honour, it went to the MOD via the CWGC. Surely the MOD would be in possession of all the facts?

Terry Denham or Chris Harley might be the best ones to ask about it.

You're right, they should have it - the MOD makes the decisions and the CWGC then commemorates as required. The MOD should still have a copy of the file (I would expect the CWGC to have it as well based on the situation that came up).

Craig

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Guest

the MOD makes the decisions and the CWGC then commemorates as required.

Craig

So the CWGC would not question the MOD's decision once it had been taken?

Mike

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ss002d6252

So the CWGC would not question the MOD's decision once it had been taken?

Mike

I think they could ask the MoD to look at it but the ultimate decision is theirs. In this case though I would imagine that normal protocol may have been varied.

Craig

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