Armistice Day 2017

#1
@fairmaidofperth for info.
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While doing some research prior to Cambrai 100, I discovered there was a single CWGC grave at the French war cemetery in Pontarlier (Hte Doubs) just over the border from us.
Instead of going to the service at CWGC Vevey (CH), my wife and I decided to attend at Pontarlier to pay our respects and leave a Poppy cross to Pte John Jones, 8NStaffs, who died, aged 41, at Pontarlier hospital on 21 Dec 1918, having been transferred there to recover from a gas attack.
Just before the Parade started, the Parade Marshall, spotted the poppy (the French have the cornflour as a symbol) , suited and booted, and invited me to march in the parade, directly behind the standards, as representative of 'nos amis et allies britanniques'.
Afterwards, we were introduced to 'le Gratin' - Mayor and Sous-Prefet - and invited to the Mayor's reception .
I also learned there are a couple of other small CWGC cemeteries locally, dedicated to the 25 members of a Canadian lumberjack battalion which was in the area (Jura) cutting wood for the front line positions.
Another interesting revelation was that the Canadians sent over dog teams and 'mushers' to provide logistic transport, particularly in the Vosges, when snow prevented vehicular movement. Apparently , 1,000s of tons of artillery rounds, inter alia, were moved by this means.
 
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#3
Quite a few I would think and not all are looked after by the CWGC. In Le Vigan in the south of France the graves of an RAF crew that went down in the 1950s are maintained by the Mairie.

Close to me in Auvers-sur-Oise cemetery, where Vincent Van Gogh is buried next to his brother, there is another RAF crew. There are several CWGC tombstones in cemeteries around Paris, maintained by local municipalities. RAF crews from WWII but also some from WWI, including nurses, and some who died after hostilities ceased.
 
#4
M. le Maire of Pontarlier told me that on Toussaint he and other senior political figures in the Department (scuse lack of accent) visit each foreign serviceman's grave in the area and leave flowers.
 
#5
One other point: just to prove it was a proper parade, one of the Jeunes Pompiers (Fire Brigade Cadets) went down in time-honoured fashion.
In equally time-honoured fashion, he was dragged off to the rear by his armpits, with his boots bouncing off the gravel.
A couple of chunks of chocolate later, he rejoined the Parade. Good lad.
 
#6
Many years ago I was walking around the Chemin des Dames a much fought over battlefield and where there are a number of war cemeteries which cover French, German, British, US and Italian IIRC war dead.
But in one village graveyard there were a few headstones dating from 1914 obviously not re-interred in the big cemeteries, and I wonder if anyone visits them. N.France must be littered with similar graves.

ed Spelling
 
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skid2

LE
Book Reviewer
#7
Slightly earlier, out walking the dog yesterday morning. The dame bumps into her friend who’s son was parading with the cadets.
‘Are they going to make us stand and march in the rain’?
‘Yes’
‘That’s not fair I’m telling the NSPCC’.
 
#8
Quite a few I would think and not all are looked after by the CWGC. In Le Vigan in the south of France the graves of an RAF crew that went down in the 1950s are maintained by the Mairie.

Close to me in Auvers-sur-Oise cemetery, where Vincent Van Gogh is buried next to his brother, there is another RAF crew. There are several CWGC tombstones in cemeteries around Paris, maintained by local municipalities. RAF crews from WWII but also some from WWI, including nurses, and some who died after hostilities ceased.
In graveyards where only a small number of CWGC burials are the organisation pays a small amount to the management of the cemetery in the expectation that the graves are looked after in between headstone replacements. I embarrassed a church in Sussex that was pocketing the money but neglecting the wargraves. They suddenly changed their tune after I threatened them with the press.
 
#9
Many years ago I was walking around the Chemin des Dames a much fought over battlefield and where there are a number of war cemeteries which cover French, German, British, Us and Italian IIRC war dead.
But in one village graveyard there were a few headstones dating from 1914 obviously not re-interred in the big cemeteries, and i wonder if anyone visits them. N.France must be littered with similar graves.
Local municipalities are aware of grave locations and organise commemorations in conjunction with ex services associations. There are graves throughout France. New headstones are still being put up by villages with schoolchildren being involved. Memory is important to the French. The British Embassy in Paris receives a steady flow of requests for military personnel to attend commemorations. The British ex services associations in France try and attend as many as possible (RBL, RNA, RAFA, RNVR).
 
#10
I'll give a mention to absa3945.com through which I found the well presented gravesite for a relative and crew of an 88 Sqn RAF Boston in an isolated little town in Brittany.

Website includes many remote crash sites and isolated graves
 
#13
As a supplementary, this 'solo ' grave, made me wonder how many other 'orphan' CWGC sites there are.
There's about 10 from 2 wars in my local cemetery (Buckingham) and another singleton just up the road in one of the outlying hamlets. That's just off the top of my head.

It's not like the South Midlands has ever been a war zone.

Well, not since the time of Cromwell, at any rate.
 
#14
There's a single grave in the churchyard of the tiny village in Northants where my parents-in-law lived .
However, the village also has a war memorial and stained-glass windows to the fallen.
I was thinking more of lone graves in foreign parts, which may not receive visitors too often.
 
#16
November the 11th was/is also St Martin's Day, which was also known (as quoted in Marlowe's Faust) as Martlemas in some parts of England. It was the day sheep and cattle would be slaughtered against the coming Winter. That it became the day commemorating one of the world's greatest slaughters must be one of the biggest ironies of all time.
 
#17
In graveyards where only a small number of CWGC burials are the organisation pays a small amount to the management of the cemetery in the expectation that the graves are looked after in between headstone replacements. I embarrassed a church in Sussex that was pocketing the money but neglecting the wargraves. They suddenly changed their tune after I threatened them with the press.
Way back in the mists of time, 1968 to be precise, I was living in the Mess in Hong Kong, and we were visited by a LS Paddy WO2 whose job it was to tour the world checking that singleton graves were in fact being looked after on that basis. He spent a few days in HK then went to various other places in the FE with a list, spending another night or two with us on his way back. I'm not quite sure who exactly his remit came from, but assume as he was serving it would not have been CWGC.
 
#18
Way back in the mists of time, 1968 to be precise, I was living in the Mess in Hong Kong, and we were visited by a LS Paddy WO2 whose job it was to tour the world checking that singleton graves were in fact being looked after on that basis. He spent a few days in HK then went to various other places in the FE with a list, spending another night or two with us on his way back. I'm not quite sure who exactly his remit came from, but assume as he was serving it would not have been CWGC.
Sounds like he was inspecting Military (ie non-War Graves) graves, the upkeep of which would have been the responsibility of MOD and not CWGC.
 
#19
That it became the day commemorating one of the world's greatest slaughters must be one of the biggest ironies of all time.
It's most likely a coincidence, but - given the number of folk involved in agricultural manual labour 100 years ago - it may have been a conscious choice.

Either way, I doubt the irony went entirely unremarked by the parents of the Fallen.

As an aside, Martlemas 2018 falls (neatly) on a Sunday.
 
#20
Myself & two of my grandsons visit a single war grave in their local church most rememberance Sunday’s to pay our respects.

Interestingly, within a hundred yards of the church is where a Blenheim crashed after turning back to West Raynham with engine trouble whilst taking part in a night intruder attack on Germany in June 1942.
A memorial has been placed which lists the crew members.
The pilot, P/Off John Graham, aged 21, is buried at East Raynham. The other crew members were Sgt Michael Beaufoy (Observer) aged 19 & Sgt Leslie Harrowell (Wop/Ag) aged 22.

RIP.
 

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