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Skipman

Butte de Warlencourt sold?

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johntaylor

Excellent!

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Owen D

I donated to help buy it.

I'm not in WFA anymore but was in it for 23 years, 1984 to 2007.

Bit miffed that they flogged it to a former chairman without consulting the members.

Edited by Owen D
dates added.

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David Filsell

Mr B

Apologies, Bad Editing. No excuses 

Mr JT

Your book was not reviewed  because, quite simply, your publisher did not send a review copy to Stand To! - or if sent, was not recieved. 

Best regads

David 

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johntaylor

Hi David, that's deeply frustrating because Pen & Sword insisted they had sent a copy.  Perhaps I could send you a PM about this, as I'd still appreciate a review on the website, or if possible in the magazine itself.  The book took eight years to research and write, so there's no particular rush!

 

All the best, John

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Owen D
8 minutes ago, johntaylor said:

Hi David, that's deeply frustrating because Pen & Sword insisted they had sent a copy. 

 

Pen & Sword were terrible at getting the correct book to reviewers when I had dealings with them regarding book reviews.

They'd often send out the wrong book when they remembered to send one out at all.

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David Filsell

Owen,

Praise where it is due

I must say that  the delightful young lady who I deal with at P&S is absolutely excellent at her job. She keeps me up date on new publications, sends them without fail and offers me as Reviews Editor a first rate service. Helion are equally excellent in the service they provide, as, indeed, are most of the academic publishers - despite the fact I regularly complain in reviews about the ridiculous prices the charge beacause they judge their key market universities with seemingly endless funds for library acquisition and ignore the market for such books purchased  by serious non-academic  buyers with more limited funds available. 

That said, overall Stand To! gets very good service now from publishers

 

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Gareth Davies

We have slightly drifted.......

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Terry_Reeves

A bit more than slightly. Vested interests perhaps.

 

TR

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johntaylor

We might have drifted slightly, Gareth, but from my point of view it was in the right direction!  Many thanks to David for your very helpful response, and I'll make sure a copy gets to you this time.  That's enough from me.  Over and out.

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bif
On ‎30‎/‎10‎/‎2018 at 09:45, Steven Broomfield said:

'Bloomfield'

So, does that make you a "Bloomin" Stephen ?  Seriously all amateur orginisations are just that- amateur.  Put three or more members in a room and some type of disagreement will follow.  That's why membership is voluntary and resignation available to all.  If you don't like it, don't buy/participate/ etc .

Edited by bif

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Skipman
2 hours ago, johntaylor said:

from my point of view it was in the right direction! 

 

That you being a pain in the Butte John? :)

 

Mike

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johntaylor

Ha! I love it!  That's the best comment since Egbert's Photoshop job.

 

 

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keithmroberts

The subject is serious, and the presentation regarding it, has done the WFA no favours. I would like to think that the sale of the Butte  was done after careful deliberation and thought about the issues that have been raised, both here and in Facebook and Twitter comments.  Executives are always easy targets, and sometime statements are worded of necessity in terms that don't tell the whole story.  I really would have liked to see the issue explained in advance, and the subsequent  decision  supported by a fuller explanation.  The WFA does matter, and if as I understand we are losing executive members over the decision the organisation will be weaker.

 

The committee is structured so that each member has specific responsibilities,  and finding willing and suitable replacements might not be easy. At the moment I certainly don't know whether the resignations come from trustees who had opposed the decision and were outvoted, or are happening in response to the outcry about the handling of the decision, and the lack of clarity on subjects such as the question raised by Egbert.

 

I'm certainly not rushing to resign as a member, because I want the WFA to continue for future generations.  I would  however like explanations, and discussion, with some of the understandable emotion set aside. David Filsell makes some important points, and rather than shout, at this stage, I would like to see a much fuller statement about the decision and its background.

 

This comment is purely personal, and I have no special status in the WFA above that of being a paid up member.

 

Keithj

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nigelcave

I can see that one of the biggest problems with the WFA owning the Butte was that of a British organisation owning what is in effect open access land in France, with all the complications that can arise from that.

 

As I understand it, this is the sort of problem that the IWGC/CWGC faced with the cemeteries/memorials in France (and Belgium etc etc) from the earliest days. Others can certainly put me right, but the Commission handed back the ceded land to France and then got administrative title to same years ago - ie relatively closely to the Armistice; and there is a regular renewal of the 'treaties' or protocols or whatever the correct legal term might be. This means that many legal matters, such as vandalism, rights of access and so forth, are dealt with by the French authorities. I can see how difficult such issues would be for the WFA as regards the Butte. And then there is the whole business of managing the site remotely with a management system that, of its nature, is voluntary and transitory.


When it was purchased thirty or so years ago the site was only occasionally visited (I was never there when anyone else was) and it was, as I understood it, up for sale and its 'neglected status' future in doubt. At the time it seemed a reasonable option, especially given the then fairly recent filling of Y Sap Crater and the courageous decision of Richard Dunning to buy Lochnagar Crater. Nowadays I am not so sure that the same decision(s) would have been made, giving the litigious nature of our contemporary society. I, for one, can see why the decision was made. I can see, in the long term, that the site might well be taken on by a local organisation, such as the Historial. 

 

The original purchase might well have saved the Butte from being developed at that time. It is much better known and much better presented (unless one likes key sites such as this in a rough and ready condition, a view with which I can sympathise). I think its immediate and medium term future has been pretty well safeguarded, from what I can tell from the announcement by the WFA.  

 

 

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Heid the Ba
On ‎30‎/‎10‎/‎2018 at 14:59, egbert said:

So - again, when the present owner leaves this world, what is in the contract concerning the status of the landmark? Could it be that it looks like this some time in the far future?:

That is a question you will have to ask of the WFA or new owner; or check the French land registry.  And yes, it is entirely possible that is how the Butte could look in the near future, depending on French law and any rights of access.

 

 

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Gareth Davies

I hear that 3 members of the EC have resigned.

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keithmroberts
1 hour ago, Gareth Davies said:

hear that 3 members of the EC have resigned.

 

I saw that on Twitter. Apart from the obvious interest as to which members, it would be interesting to know whether they have resigned because they opposed the sale and were outvoted, or because they now feel a sense of guilt over a decision that they were party to, or the handling of the announcement.

 

The WFA exec have made a real dog's breakfast of this. If their decision is well founded, then they should have been ready to publish a clear and comprehensive explanation of the decision. The absence of such has caused a tremendous fury, arguably as great as the decision itself.  Clearly some members  have resigned with immediate effect,  and I do think that a shame. Overall the WFA  do some very good things, and however members access to the Pension Records is arranged, I think we can be clear that if the WFA had not acted, those records would have been shredded or burned to relieve MOD of the cost of storage. Without a committed team running the WFA the Medal Index Cards would have been destroyed years ago. My opinion, for what it is worth, is that despite the disastrous  way that the information has been released, we need most of those volunteers in their posts.

 

Keith

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Gareth Davies

"I have informed the @TheWFA EC that I resign from the position of Education Officer. I have been against their actions regarding the Butte from the start & in my absence (holiday in USA) the vote was taken. I cannot work with people who I have no confidence in."

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Chris_Baker

Gareth was quoting from the Education Officer, Martyn Hale.

 

I understand via social media that one of the other resignees is Jane Wood / Backhouse.

 

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Blincodave

Her resignation statement on Facebook is a real indictment of the EC's role in this unsavoury process

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mva
4 hours ago, Heid the Ba said:

That is a question you will have to ask of the WFA or new owner; or check the French land registry.  And yes, it is entirely possible that is how the Butte could look in the near future, depending on French law and any rights of access.

 

 

bonjour,

for further enquiries : if you look on : https://www.geoportail.gouv.fr/, you'll find maps, of the 'cadastre' (Land registry) ; see pictures below

Why in green ? foreign property ? I don't know

To know more, contact the land registry : https://lannuaire.service-public.fr/hauts-de-france/pas-de-calais/centre_impots_fonciers-62041-01  where you have all the contacts. They can tell who was/is the owner

The land for the CWGC cemeteries is French property, but it was 'given' (loan ?) to Britain

I guess that this is not the case for the Butte.

kind regards from the Somme, martine

 

geoportail.JPG

geop_cadastre.JPG

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Toby Brayley

The story made the Daily Mail.... it doesn't paint the decision in a good light.. 

 

 

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6342185/Charitys-decision-sell-WWI-battlefield-site-Somme.html?fbclid=IwAR2SkMiQLhW2zD55CxNMzlysj35ug1yPQ8BD_NxR3WRWpTCkZWbj0EP0RpU

Edited by Toby Brayley

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Heid the Ba

Thanks Martine.

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nigelcave
1 hour ago, mva said:

bonjour,

for further enquiries : if you look on : https://www.geoportail.gouv.fr/, you'll find maps, of the 'cadastre' (Land registry) ; see pictures below

Why in green ? foreign property ? I don't know

 

 

It is in green, I assume, because it is a wooded/partially wooded area and/or is not under cultivation.

 

 

1 hour ago, mva said:

 

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Blincodave

From Taff's Facebook account a few minutes ago:

 

Dear All,

I fully appreciate that having to conduct this whole sorry affair on social media is not ideal, but there is, quite literally, no other way to communicate this situation and make the remaining members of the Western Front Association National Executive Committee face up to the inevitable.

It has now been six days since the NEC slipped the news of their sale of the Butte de Warlencourt, to a former member of their own committee, with no competitive bidding process, out, via an email newsletter that few people read, on Saturday afternoon.

Since the news broke they can have been left in no doubt at all that they have horribly misjudged the mood of the Association membership and yet, still, there has been no attempt to stand up and admit that they have got this whole business wrong.

The few communications that have been released have done nothing but inflame the situation.

I was told in a telephone call on Sunday evening that the sale had to be rushed owing to the fact that the French insurance company withdrew, or cancelled, the cover on the Butte three weeks ago, leaving no alternative but to sell.

What has concerned me since is that insurance had not been mentioned in the announcement of the sale on the WFA website, in the subsequently added Q&A, in the Sunday night statement or, in fact, anywhere else.

Many others have also been told that insurance has been the reason for the quick sale.

With the resignations of a number of former National Executive Committee members over the last few days a very different picture has become clear.

The WFA Branch Chairmen and Members amongst you should formally request – as I shall - a copy of the Minutes of the National Executive Committee Meeting on Saturday 28th July 2018. Make sure that you insist on an unredacted copy.

In a recorded Minute on the Butte, headed “*** This item must remain confidential ***”, it is clear that the decision to sell the Butte de Warlencourt was taken at that meeting.

In July.

Three months ago.

Long before the insurance is said to have been withdrawn.

There has, of course, been a WFA magazine since then, and plenty of time and opportunity to tell the members what was being planned and to put forward valid reasons for the sale.

This has not happened.

The same meeting minute goes on:

“Potential sale. Offer to purchase the Butte from Bob Paterson.
Aim to set up a foundation (as Lochnagar Foundation) – Bob will maintain/develop site/gain sponsorship.
£10k sale cost (as under French land sale valuation) – Bob pays upfront and WFA repays as sponsorship.
WFA pay £4k for orientation boards (funds already collected) – via simple purchase order.
WFA pay £500 p.a. sponsorship (arrangement renewed annually) – WFA notice boards maintained and WFA recognised as main sponsor on orientation boards and all associated literature/website/social media.”

“Motion –
“We propose that the Legal Trustee be instructed to pursue with French lawyers the sale of the Butte as soon as reasonably practicable

For 5 / Abstentions 1

AT to prepare draft holding statement to go out through website and social media on completion of sale.

Followed by full statement in next Bulletin.”

Now, I don’t know about you, but there is a line here, in fact a single word, which troubles me more than any other. There may, of course, be a very good explanation for it:

“Bob pays upfront and WFA repays as sponsorship.”

I may have got this completely wrong, but to the question that so many of us have asked since Saturday – “How much is Bob paying for the Butte?”, the Minuted answer here appears to be, “Eventually – nothing”.

I can only hope that Bob Paterson will appreciate that this is totally unacceptable, on any level, and immediately offer to return the Butte de Warlencourt to the ownership of the members of the Western Front Association.

Incidentally, there is no mention of insurance in the Minute at all.

I have spent the last five days calling for every single member of the Western Front Association National Executive Committee to resign, based on their terrible judgement and failure to appreciate how their decision has been seen by members of the Association.

The national press have now picked this up too.

Three NEC members have already done the right and honourable thing and resigned – some of them pointing out that they never supported the sale in the first place.

To those remaining members of the Western Front Association National Executive Committee I now say, go. Your position is completely untenable and nothing will enable the Association to move forward and regain its dignity and respect until you have all stood down.

Final note – I have just spoken to Colin and I hope that this will be brought to a swift close.

Taff Gillingham
Chairman
Suffolk Branch

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