Armistice Day 2017

Discussion in 'The Intelligence Cell' started by Trackpen, Nov 11, 2017.

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  1. @fairmaidofperth for info.
    IMG_0384.JPG IMG_0385.JPG IMG_0386.JPG 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.
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2017
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  2. As a supplementary, this 'solo ' grave, made me wonder how many other 'orphan' CWGC sites there are.
  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.
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  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.
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  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.
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  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
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2017
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  7. skid2

    skid2 LE Book Reviewer

    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’?
    ‘That’s not fair I’m telling the NSPCC’.
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  8. 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.
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  9. 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).
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  10. I'll give a mention to 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
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  11. Four CWGC graves in a quiet corner of Ile de Ré. One RMP and 3 Pioneer Corps. Only spotted the small CWGC sign as I cycled past... post Lancastria losses? Immaculate and well tended.
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  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. I appreciate that.

    Even so, I'm confident that ours - like many/most singleton graves dotted about UK - don't see a great deal of traffic.

    I wouldn't have made the point otherwise.
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