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lastgasp 29th Jun 2010 09:07

Adopt a Military Grave
This might be an appropriate thread to remind ppruners that there are similar graves in churchyards all around the UK - and someone is needed to keep an eye on them.

After contacting CWGC about an issue concerning the solitary military grave in my local churchyard, I was eventually asked if I would care to "adopt" it. I was aware that there are permanent teams maintaining the large military cemeteries, mainly abroad of course, but I learned that CWGC have a major administrative and logistical headache with the hundreds of individual graves scattered in ones and twos in churchyards throughout the UK. With the passage of the generations, these graves are being forgotten and are not visited by relatives. In the end I agreed to "adopt" four other graves in my local area, in churchyards that I regularly drove past, unaware of their presence.

It is not a particularly onerous task. You are simply required to make an annual inspection on behalf of CWGC and every two years give the Portland stone a scrub with a mild biocide solution. That's all. I choose in addition to call in every few weeks to trim back the surrounding vegetation, as two of the churchyards are not regularly mown, - the work of just minutes. In November I also present each one with his poppy cross, my own personal act of remembrance for those who made the ultimate sacrifice that we have managed to evade.

Given the sentiments expressed in this thread, ppruners - in particular the mils - spread all around the country, would be the obvious candidates to consider assisting CWGC by adopting the grave of a brother in arms that, unbeknown to them, they regularly pass by without realising. Anyone willing to do so should contact the UK Area Operations Manager at CWGC.

PPRuNe Pop 1st Jul 2010 09:59

What a good idea - from the MIL forum
It has long been a 'bee in my bonnet' that there must be graves of heroes that are not tended. Here then we can remember some of those who fought and died for us and which gives the opportunity of like minded people who wish to contact the CWGC to find graves, even in your local area, mine is Croydon, and which need some occasional TLC in memory of those may have been 'forgotten.'

I am going to keep this thread alive and I hope that those who do take a grave or two to tend will RECORD it here so that we can see what a difference we can actually make in this, the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Britain - and beyond.

:: CWGC ::


parabellum 1st Jul 2010 11:16

A bit off thread perhaps?
Would it be possible to contribute to the upkeep my brother's grave in the Silent Valley Military Cemetery in Aden, if that is possible? Just wondering how best to go about this?

I was sent some 'photos recently and the whole place looks very wind swept and dusty, just washing down the headstones so that the wording is visible would be an improvement. (I served in Aden too so I know it isn't hard for things to look neglected quite quickly).

It would be nice if the white marble cross that was a centre piece and was destroyed by militant locals a few years ago could be replaced, our spineless foreign office said to replace it would be, "too provocative" !

Any thoughts or ideas would be appreciated.

Tempsford 1st Jul 2010 15:54

What a wonderul idea. I go to some pretty obscure places and make a point of checking for servicemens headstones and making sure they are looked after whenever I can. It is indeed very sad to see unkempt/damaged/vandalised headstones for the people who proably didn't want to be there, were normal folk like you and I and whose families haven't been to see the grave for a long, long time (if ever).


eggnog the flippant 7th Jul 2010 22:08

In the UK it's not that difficult. I look after the CWGC tablets in half a dozen or so local village churchyards. It makes for a quiet, contemplative, pleasant even, morning out. But be careful. You'll find yourself drawn in to the military history of the poor lads buried there - mostly deaths in miliary hospitals at home following repatriation from the Western Front. Then you'll find yourself looking at the village War Memorial and checking out the names and at the end of that....well I'm on my third book now. And a Western Front battlefield tour guide. All because of a single neglected grave in a tiny hamlet in rural East Anglia.

There are less honourable roads to walk in this world. If you fancy it then open up 'Search Records' on the CWGC website and switch 'Casualty' to 'Cemetery'. Enter the name of the village or town and go from there.

Peter-RB 11th Aug 2010 12:05

I spent months looking for my Uncles War grave, eventually found it but no Portland stone, I sent a letter to the CWGC asking why?... it seems some long ago mix up had left him without his portland stone memorial, about 4 months later I went to lay the Poppies on his grave, and found a magnificent new,well ftted and excellently engraved Headstone, it sems the mix up had been sorted and without any forwarning the CWGC had planted the regular Portland stone on the site of my much loved Uncle, sad thing is my father his brother had gone to the big grey hanger some 10months earlier.

Now I find that I seem to have taken the mantle of stone keeper in that grave yard, for those of that ilk,... who too many in this country seem to have forgotton..! and out of family gratitude I send a small yearly donation to the CWGC

Peter R-B
Formerly Vfrpilotpb

PFR 26th Sep 2010 19:29

What a wonderful idea. I have an uncle buried at Embermenil in France, I've managed to visit the grave once when living in France.
If any ppruners are passing or even live close - put a poppy or flower on the grave for our family come November 9th.
I shall be finding a grave or two locally to tend. PFR.

He was a Navigator with 50 Sqn and was killed on the night of the 25th/26th Feb 1944 outbound on a raid to Augsburg having taken-off from Skellingthorpe at 18:37 in Lancaster MK I LL791, coded VN-O. They were picked up by night fighters, crashing near Embermenil, 25 miles east-south-east of Nancy. Sgt Gilson was the only member of the crew killed, although managing to leave the a/c he was found by local people, chute deployed, but having died. The other members of the crew successfully parachuted to safety. He had flown 14 sorties to that date.



Embermenil is a small village 40 kilometres east-south-east of Nancy and some 15 kilometres east-north-east of Luneville, a town on the road from Paris to Sarrebourg. The communal cemetery is at the south-western end of the village on the road to Laneuville-aux-Bois. The British grave is near the middle of the rear wall

abra 9th Oct 2010 16:01

You probably know all this,but German radar had sight of this raid very early on as the force was forming up north of London. They sent up over 100 Tame Boar twin and single engined night fighters to intercept the two waves of bombers. Oblt. Hans-Georg Birkenstock of Stab1./NJG6 flew from Mainz-Finthen that evening and shot down LL791 at about 2125 Central European Time. The Lancaster was his sixth victim. Birkenstock's next score,a Halifax left him injured by return fire and he had to bale out of his damaged Bf110. He was killed in action a couple of months later. For a photo see here; Seaman

PFR 10th Oct 2010 20:25

Many thanks abra. I didn't know these details. I'll send you a pm, so as not divert this thread. Really interested to know any more details you might have and particular any contacts available for crew members still living.

Thanks again, PFR.:)

ATR43 7th Nov 2010 07:03

Adopt a military grave
I heartily agree and thought of a solitary war grave in a church close to me which I visited only a couple of weeks ago. The headstone is a pale shade of green due to surrounding trees etc and I would be grateful if someone could advise a particular brand of stone cleaner as I am somewhat hesitant of using one that might damage the stone.

eggnog the flippant 14th Nov 2010 19:54

Cleaning CWGC tablets
ATR43 My apologies, I don't often get the chance to visit this site and missed your message. To the best of my knowledge, CWGC use a mild solution of bleach to clean algae and soil splashes from Portland limestone. If you think about it, with the number of stones they have to maintain (the number's in the back of my head somewhere and these days will probably have to remain there) anything resembling a commercial product would be ruled out on cost grounds. Anyway, they've been cleaning them for eighty-odd years, long before anything more sophisticated was available. It's what I use and seems to do no damage.

good spark 6th Mar 2011 15:25

i stumbled upon a very odd situation a while ago, a pal of mine found a 1st war death plaque in a junkshop and bought for me because there was a sticker on the back that said this person enrolled in a town close to where i live, so after trying the phone book i found a relative and hey presto he pointed me in the direction of the grave great methinks

not so after many weeks of tramping around a gert big boneyard i found it, now hers the prob because the son died before the cwgc had a standard headstone and a short while later his mother died so they buried her on top of him so what i found was a small inexpensive headstone with son and mothers names inscribed

in short a man who died on active service with no official type headstone
are there any more?

Peter-RB 7th Mar 2011 08:32

Good morning Gentlemen,

Just lookin at the ages of most of the posters on this tiny topic, it seems the majority are born in a portion of time most people refer to as the "Bulge" and we were those Babies, well none of us can help that it' s purely an accident of birth, but when we have all departed this mortal coyle, do you think others will be as willing to undertake such time consuming tasks as we all seem to have done, and continue to do !

Peter R-B

Fox3WheresMyBanana 17th Mar 2011 22:20

'tis a pity this thread is needed. I've recently moved to Canada where every tiny hamlet has an immaculate war memorial & graves, Remembrance Day is a holiday, national sports programs pause to remember every loss in Afghanistan, and every car on the highway comes to a halt if a cortege passes.
Good to see Wootton Bassett being recognised for their efforts.

N707ZS 30th Mar 2011 18:24

Low lifes
I don't no how much the scrap man might of given for a small brass plaque hopefully they will be caught and we will know their names.

Sorry this is slightly off topic.

Commemorative plaque for hero soldier is stolen from Stockton Parish churchyard bench - Local News - News - Gazette Live

eggnog the flippant 9th Apr 2011 22:48

What's the next generation going to do?
Mea culpa. I've not been here for too long.

So far as the next generation is concerned, I'm not too worried. The regeneration of interest in 'Remembrance' has, it seems to me at least, been most marked in recent years. A couple of things have helped (and I'm taking purely about the UK here). The Iraq and Afghanistan Operations have made a huge difference in public awareness; a bloody reminder that infantry operations = deaths in action. But also, a decade before that, WW1 was introduced into the GCSE History syllabus and schools started visiting Ypres and the Somme. (No complaints - built a business up out of it). Added to this is the 'Family History on the Internet' explosion and investigations into who GreatGrandad was and why he never came home.

Generally I take the view of my old History Prof - 'You can't have History until the're all dead. 'Till then it's bl00dy journalism.' Now, of course, they all are. Bless them. And the Last Fighting Tommy has gone.

The net result is that there has never been more interest in the work of the CWGC and local War Memorials. In the twenty years that I have been attending the Remembrance Day service in my own village the numbers present were steady at 20 or 30 until say seven years ago. Last November we had nearly 300 and ran right out of Service sheets. In the pub afterwards a number of people made the point that it was their children that had been the catalyst in their attendance.

It's quite worrying. You can spend time in the Public Bar of the Bell grumping about 'the youth of today' and how hopeless they are and 'We're Doomed I tell you, Doomed'. Then you get a phone call from a 13 year old asking whether you know where.....etc. Completely demolishes your defences.

I hope that also goes some of the way to answering also the the 'War Memorial awareness' issue that was raised. Trouble is, that the larger the town/city, the more that the population has changed. Places that had a relatively small footprint and a homogeneous population in 1920 nowadays simply don't. And many of the present inhabitants of that old footprint area neither know nor care. That's not an immigrant-bashing theme, in many places the population is simply rootless, just a place to live whilst you're trying to make a life. Been there, done that.

N707ZS 13th Apr 2011 10:12

Low lifes
Walked past the bench last week and the plaque was back on the bench not sure if it was original or a new one.

India Four Two 13th Apr 2011 12:58

Index to CWGC database
I was browsing this thread the other day and started wondering if there were any Commonwealth graves here in Vietnam, from 1945 (British Army) or 1960s-1970s (ANZAC). So I went to the CWGC website and was amazed that you can only search their database by Casualty Name or Cemetary Name!

That would be great if I was looking up my relative Frederick Youens in the Railway Dugouts Cemetary, but not much use if I'm looking for graves in Vietnam.

However I found this site where an index has been organized starting with Country. http://http://www.purecollector.com/history/cwgc/

A labour of love. Well done, Duncan McLeod :D

So I was able to discover that there are no Commonwealth graves in Vietnam. The nearest are in Thailand and Malaysia.

fustall 21st May 2011 18:55

WWI graves
http://i247.photobucket.com/albums/g...t/IMAG0001.jpg">http://[URL="http://%3Ca%20href="]http://i247.photobucket.com/albums/g...t/IMAG0002.jpg[/URL]">http://[URL="http://%3Ca%20href="]http://i247.photobucket.com/albums/g...t/IMAG0004.jpg[/URL]">http://[URL="http://s247.photobucket.com/albums/gg130/parts_bucket/?action=view&current=IMAG0004.jpg"]http://i247.photobucket.com/albums/g...t/IMAG0004.jpg[/URL]Hi I have attached a few photo's of my local cemetry,both graves are first world war ones,Albert Masters avro 504 collided with another aircraft over Lincolnshire,near gainsborough,RFC had just become the RAF.

The other grave is of a pilot who was on the front line for some time,he came back to England for training purposes,he collided with a tree in thick fog at Wyton.
the cross has broken off his grave.


lauriebe 8th Jul 2011 09:09

Last Tuesday morning I drove from Penang to Taiping to visit the Kamunting Road Christian Cemetery there. The purpose of the visit was to photograph the post-war Military graves therein for inclusion in The War Graves Photographic Project database.

Kamunting Road is another well cared for cemetery with several seperate sections for the casualties of the Emergency period, Confrontation and other causes.

After completing the task at Kamunting Road, I drove the short distance to Bukit Larut where the CWGC cemetery is located. I had never visited this site before and found it a very moving experience. This year marks the 70th anniversary of the Japanese landings at Kota Baru and it is at the Taiping site that the first casualties of this campaign are interred.

I also photographed this site and include three photos below. More of the images that I took can be seen by clicking on any of the photos included here.

CWGCTaiping027 by Janner88, on Flickr

CWGCTaiping003 by Janner88, on Flickr

CWGCTaiping010 by Janner88, on Flickr

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