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Public prevented from attending reburial of First World War soldier


Frajohn
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20th September 2021

 

Tomorrow three commemorations, at least one of which is a reburial, are scheduled in Northern France for soldiers who were killed during the First World War. This is not unusual. In previous years the Commonwealth War Graves Commission has made such ceremonies public on their website and alerted organisations like the Royal British Legion in order that those whose want to pay their respects may do so. However, the three commemorations taking place tomorrow have been kept secret at the insistence of the Ministry of Defence. Even local mayors have not been informed. The reason for this secrecy? Covid. The MOD feel these small open-air ceremonies present such a serious covid risk that these men, who gave their lives for our country, are to be buried in secret, the ceremonies hidden, as if they are an inconvenience, denying them the honour and respect they deserve.

To continue to use the nonsensical excuse of covid is totally beyond comprehension. There are no regulations in France preventing attendance at an event such as this, nor has there been for a couple of months.

I have telephoned the M.O.D, the J.C.C.C and C.W.G.C and have been told that there is nobody there whom I could talk to nor could anyone phone me back.

The latest updates from the CWGC and JCCC can be found at              

https://www.cwgc.org/our-work/events/autumn-2021-ceremonies

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  • Admin

I found the information provided on this thread rather at odds……

 

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13 minutes ago, Michelle Young said:

I found the information provided on this thread rather at odds……

 

What exactly do you find at odds with what I have written?

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22 minutes ago, Frajohn said:

The MOD feel these small open-air ceremonies present such a serious covid risk that these men, who gave their lives for our country, are to be buried in secret, the ceremonies hidden,

Surely Michelle is just pointing out that 

Upcoming MoD Commemoration service

2 hours ago

tells us what is happening-when and where? Unless there are others...

 

George

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Perhaps you will show, where on the CWGC website, it gives details of where and when the three ceremonies are tomorrow?

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  • Admin

The link I posted from the post from Roger said that no restrictions would be in place. The announcement on the CWGC said there would be. That’s what I was trying to point out. 

I will take no further part in this as you are clearly upset and spoiling for an argument.

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Michelle`

Perhaps, before you leave, you might care to explain what this post has to do with the post from `Roger` I am referring to the ceremonies taking place tomorrow. The CWGC make it clear that the public are not able to attend. The only way that we found out about the ceremonies was seeing the graves being dug.

 

George

I look forward to your reply

 

John

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2 hours ago, Frajohn said:

Michelle`

Perhaps, before you leave, you might care to explain what this post has to do with the post from `Roger` I am referring to the ceremonies taking place tomorrow. The CWGC make it clear that the public are not able to attend. The only way that we found out about the ceremonies was seeing the graves being dug.

 

George

I look forward to your reply

 

John

John,

Are you talking about ceremonies other than Jeffs and Haxton as these would not require graves being dug? If yes, which cemetery and do you know the names of the men?

Richard

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Richard

i am Not talking about the ceremony for Jeffs and Hatton, which is why I could not understand the replies from Michelle and George.

This thread is in relation to three ceremonies which are occurring tomorrow. The cemeteries are Guillemont, Lesbouefs and Pozieres. My understanding is that they are all unidentified.

As an aside I have heard that there might be an update to the CWGC website shortly correcting this “oversight”

John

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4 hours ago, Frajohn said:

There are no regulations in France preventing attendance at an event such as this, nor has there been for a couple of months.

There might be other (changing) regulations for British army personnel travelling to France, Great Britain is no longer part of the EU. European and British travel rules change weekly, which tests are required, quarantaine, isolation, etc... on departure and return?

Organizing an event with local people is rather easy but I would not like to do it months or even weeks before when people from different countries, including non EU, are involved.

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What army personnel are likely to be attending any of tomorrow’s ceremonies. I have attended a large number of reburials and cannot remember seeing any military from the uk at any of an unknown burials.

These burial of unknowns will take place even if travel restrictions change as normally there are no attendees from the uk. My point is that if either local people or a battlefield visitor wants to attend then if there are no local restrictions then they should be allowed to do so.

We wish to continue to pay our respects to these men who paid the ultimate sacrifice all those years ago and do not intend to stop now.

 

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, Frajohn said:

We wish to continue to pay our respects to these men who paid the ultimate sacrifice all those years ago and do not intend to stop now.

I fully agree with this and wish to do so as well.

The ceremonies are organised by JCCC only and I believe that they attend the ceremonies but in civilian clothing? Official military personnel is only there when the remains are identified. JCCC personnel still has to travel from the UK and respect the rules.

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Sorry but I would have to disagree with you regarding representatives of the JCCC. Often for burials of unknown soldiers there have been only half a dozen attendees or less and I have been aware of who the attendees are. None of which have been  from the JCCC.

However when they TV crews are there so are the Great and Good.

 

Out of interest what uniform would someone from the JCCC wear?

Edited by Frajohn
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13 hours ago, Frajohn said:

I look forward to your reply

My apologies-I was, very clumsily, trying to defuse what appeared to be a solvable problem without being aware of all the information available

George

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11 hours ago, Frajohn said:

This thread is in relation to three ceremonies which are occurring tomorrow. The cemeteries are Guillemont, Lesbouefs and Pozieres. My understanding is that they are all unidentified.

If you had made this quite clear in your original post, it may have prevented members posting at cross purposes and becoming frustrated.

Charlie

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11 hours ago, Frajohn said:

Out of interest what uniform would someone from the JCCC wear?

Personnel are posted to the JCCC from throughout the Armed Services and would wear the uniform of the Corps/Service that they belong to

11 hours ago, Frajohn said:

However when they TV crews are there so are the Great and Good.

This is a bit of a 'chicken and egg situation' Perhaps the TV crews are there because the 'Great and Good' are there. Some burials will always attract more interest, even though each burial is of a man who has died in the service of his country.

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Ignoring the various flames in this thread and returning to the basic point, I am with Frajohn on this one. 

The reasoning behind banning the public is a poor excuse.  If I had been over at our place, I would have wished to have attended Guillemont.  The rules are simple and haven't changed for a while.  We are talking about France here.  It really isn't too difficult, even for those making a quick visit - a 5 minute drive away, the pharmacy in Combles will give you your lateral flow test with the result in minutes.  Their appointments book for the tests seemed quite empty on the two occasions I have used it.  A simple download and QR code import from your NHS certificate into the French anti-covid app and you have your pass sanitaire if you are really worried about attending an outdoor event.  I should imagine there were many more members of the public attending the circus at Flers a couple of weeks ago than would be attending these cemeteries.

Very poor and in common with many others blaming covid.  It's an easy way out.

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had we stilll had our house and had access to travel we would have attempted to pay our respects at any of the burials, irrespective of known or unknown.. If possible , we had done it once, we would have done two.

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20 hours ago, Frajohn said:

Richard

i am Not talking about the ceremony for Jeffs and Hatton, which is why I could not understand the replies from Michelle and George.

This thread is in relation to three ceremonies which are occurring tomorrow. The cemeteries are Guillemont, Lesbouefs and Pozieres. My understanding is that they are all unidentified.

As an aside I have heard that there might be an update to the CWGC website shortly correcting this “oversight”

John

Thanks for clarifying John. I agree with you that the public (of any nationality) should be able to attend if there are no local rules saying otherwise. The CWGC should have had the information regarding the 3 burials on their website.

Richard

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Please stop bashing the CWGC. Perhaps all the moaners would like to contact the commission directly rather than whinge on here.

TR

 

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4 hours ago, Terry_Reeves said:

Please stop bashing the CWGC. Perhaps all the moaners would like to contact the commission directly rather than whinge on here.

TR

 

Agreed. That's the best way forward.

Bernard

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Just published on the MoD site:

News story

Unknown soldiers of the Great War are laid to rest

Unknown British soldiers from the Great War have finally been laid to rest in France

From:
Ministry of Defence
Published
23 September 2021
 
Burial Service Guillemont Road

A burial service for an unknown soldier at CWGC's Guillemont Road cemetery, France. Copyright Danielle Roubroeks.

Burial Services for 13 unknown soldiers who lost their lives during World War One have been held in France. The services all took place in the Somme and Pas de Calais regions of France between 21 and 23 September 2021.

These were the first burial services organised by the MOD’s Joint Casualty and Compassionate Centre (JCCC) since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. The JCCC Commemorations Team, also known as the “War Detectives” due to the fascinating work they undertake in an attempt to identify the remains of British soldiers, adhered with local restrictions and UK government guidance.

Despite extensive research carried out by the JCCC, none of the 13 men could be identified. They were buried as unknown soldiers of unknown regiments except for two who were known to have belonged to the Devonshire and the Suffolk regiments respectively. The services were attended by representatives of the Rifles and the Royal Anglians, to which those regiments were antecedent.

Rosie Barron, JCCC, said; “It has been an honour to work with the CWGC, the Rifles and the Royal Anglians to put together this programme of services. It has been a challenging time for the JCCC with ceremonies put on hold due to the pandemic. We are very pleased to now be in a position to travel back over to Europe and ensure that these men are given the burial services they deserve”.

The ceremonies took place at various Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s (CWGC) cemeteries and were conducted by the Reverend Simon Talbot, CF, Chaplain to 6th Battalion, The Rifles. He said; “It is both humbling and a privilege to take the services of our fallen comrades remembering that whilst we may not know their names they are known to God. It is particularly poignant to know that one of the soldiers was a member of the Devonshire Regiment, an antecedent regiment to the Rifles with whom I serve. Riflemen still wear the Croix de Guerre, an honour awarded to the Devons following a gallant stand in 1918. As we remember each of these soldiers before God we give thanks for their lives, their service and remember their sacrifice with gratitude”.

The remains of the Devonshire soldier were found in 2018 during the construction of wind turbines near Ginchy on the Somme. The soldier is believed to have been killed in early September 1916 when 1st, 8th and 9th battalions took part in the fighting around the village. However, there are still too many casualties of the regiment missing from during that period to allow for identification.

The remains of the Suffolk Regiment soldier were found at Wancourt, near Arras, in 2019. He is believed to have been a member of the 2nd battalion, who were killed on 28 September 1918 during the Spring Offensive. 55 soldiers from the battalion are still missing from that day alone, meaning that it has not been possible to make an identification.

The graves and headstones of all 13 soldiers were prepared by the CWGC who will now care for them in perpetuity.

Liz Woodfield, Director of External Relations at CWGC, said:

“These 13 soldiers of the First World War, whose remains we recovered in France, now lie at rest alongside the comrades they fought and died with. While their identities may remain unknown they have been reburied with dignity and honour by the JCCC and we are thankful to see these poignant ceremonies return.”

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/unknown-soldiers-of-the-great-war-are-laid-to-rest

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Good Afternoon to you All

I have 3 cases for rededication that have been excepted by the JCCC, one of them was due to take place just before the Beijing virus Pandemic. It was obviously cancelled for good reason, It was due to take on the 24/03/2020 in Bancourt British Cemetery. It was possibly going to be rescheduled for March of this year, but never materialised because of Covid. The problem that the authorities have is the three men I have identified were all killed on the same day,but from different battalions, in cemeteries which are not far apart from each other. Bancourt , Delsaux Farm and Lebecquiere. Will they cram them all into one day? This Covid is a certainly is causing problems. 

Regards

Andy

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4 hours ago, andrew pugh said:

Good Afternoon to you All

I have 3 cases for rededication that have been excepted by the JCCC, one of them was due to take place just before the Beijing virus Pandemic. It was obviously cancelled for good reason, It was due to take on the 24/03/2020 in Bancourt British Cemetery. It was possibly going to be rescheduled for March of this year, but never materialised because of Covid. The problem that the authorities have is the three men I have identified were all killed on the same day,but from different battalions, in cemeteries which are not far apart from each other. Bancourt , Delsaux Farm and Lebecquiere. Will they cram them all into one day? This Covid is a certainly is causing problems. 

Regards

Andy

Andy,

Have you tried contacting JCCC to ask when these rededications will take place? It would be great if you are able to attend. Could you let us know the details of the three.

Richard

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