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Remembered Today:

German wooden crosses in CWCG cemeteries


Aurel Sercu
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I'm afraid that with this posting once again I have to bother Terry Denham. (I really hope for him that he enjoys being bothered by this and similar questions.)

But if anybody else has the answer, we will appreciate.

(And my apologies should this question have already been answered in a different thread.)

I was contacted by a Dutch acquaintance who has a set of photos of Bard Cottage Cemetery (between Boezinge and Ypres). He would like to date the pics, and hopes that the answer to the question will enable him to do so.

Two of the pics show 4 Germans graves, with the original wooden marker. All the other British graves in the cemetery are headstones. (For Bard Cottage Cemetery these are Hopton wood stones.) His question was when exactly in CWGC cemeteries German crosses were replaced by headstones. His information (which he got from someone else) was that German wooden markers were replaced by headstones together with the British headstones.

Apparently this is not the case. And indeed, I seem to remember that I have seen other photos, even in this Forum, showing a few (German) crosses amid the British portland (or other) stones.

Does Terry (or anybody else) know the answer when (year or period) the German wooden markers were replaced ? As you can see on the attached photo there must have been some time in between, since the British headstones are not exactly brandnew anymore.

Thanks anyone who will try to find an answer, also on behalf of my Dutch contact.

Aurel

post-92-1130675527.jpg

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As the German stones were to a slightly different design, maybe they had to wait until a batch was produced.

What happened with other non-standard stones, like Russian, etc?

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Aurel

I do not know the exact date of the production of the first German stones although it was much later than the Commonwealth ones.

CWGC were obviously not responsible for producing these as they were 'foreign'. The VdK was formed as a private organisation in 1919 and had completed several cemeteries by the early 1930s but these do not have the type of German stones seen in CWGC cemeteries. WW2 stopped VdK's work but VdK was given official responsibility for German graves in 1954.

The graves in CWGC cemeteries have, by agreement, stones which match the style of the Commonwealth ones but with minor changes to differentiate the nationality (flat top or pointed top). It would have taken some time to negotiate these agreements and would be surprised if they were in place during the 1920s.

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Thanks, Angie.

And as you have seen, Terry has produced an answer too.

Terry,

I don't know what the weather in the UK was today, but are you telling me that on such a wonderful Sunday afternoon, with a temperature of 22°C end of October, you were sitting there at your PC waiting to answer a question from Ypres ? B)

This afternoon, after my posting I went to Bard Cottage Cem. (what else can one do on a wonderful 22°C end of October Sunday afternoon ?), and to my surprise saw that the 2 German headstones were not the flat ones I had expected, but the type with a pointed top.

And what surprised me even more : I had expected to find 3 German headstones in that row, but there were only 2. For the 3rd one on the photo I posted, the one on the right, smaller, appeared to be British ! Not really relevant to my question I know, but so it seems that at the time that smaller one still had the wooden marker.

So : the two German men do not have a headstone yet. The reason may have been as you say that these German headstones date from the post-1920s, but the reason may also be the same reason why the British soldier does not have a headstone yet. (A reason which we don't know.)

Anyway, thanks for replying so swiftly.

Aurel

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Aurel

Sunny?????

It was grey and wet here in Sussex!!! (but not cold, granted)

Sorry, I was not waiting for your question. I have been out all day photographing war graves for the British War Memorial Project.

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