Poll: Repatriation, or re-introduce Military War Graves?

Discussion in 'Current Affairs, News and Analysis' started by OldSnowy, Jan 5, 2007.

  1. Repatriation

  2. Commonwealth War Graves Cemeteries

  3. Give the Families the choice


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  1. OldSnowy

    OldSnowy LE Moderator Book Reviewer

    This extremely sensitive and emotive matter has concerned me for some time. In the past, that is until relatively recently, those who died for their Country were buried at or near where they fell. This led to a plethora of mostly beautiful, and always dignified, Military Cemeteries across the World. Most of us have visited some of these, and will agree that they are places of contemplation, and certainly provide a reminder to visitors of the sacrifices made on their behalf. I think that this is a vital function, especially in the education of youngsters today.

    Meanwhile, for whatever reasons – pressure from Families, political needs, practical needs (e.g. the Countries involved might object) – the situation has now been reversed. We now, as the US have always done, repatriate the fallen to the UK. JWP-01 – Joint Operational Personnel Administration states:
    “Since the Falklands conflict, it has been usual practice to repatriate the bodies of those killed in action for burial in the UK. It is a highly emotive matter. Indeed, the possible impact on the morale of both the servicemen and their families and the nation is of such the significance that the policy is usually addressed in the Directive from the DCS.”

    This has had some unforeseen consequences. It led to a requirement for Inquests into the deaths, something which presumably may not have happened otherwise. Given that all these flights land at BZN, this means that the Oxfordshire Coroner is responsible for the inquests, and the backlog is now thoroughly embarrassing.

    I think that we should return to the practice of burying the fallen where they fell. If it was good enough for hundreds of years, why change now? I hate to introduce the stink of politics to this, but I am convinced that there was the shabby touch of the politician in this decision somewhere (of whatever Party). What is the opinion of this site regarding this very sensitive matter?
  2. I think in time of General War it is entirely valid. However when you look at the state of, for example, the Commonwealth War Grave in Basra, I cannot help thinking that in the case of Iraq it would be foolhardy. I for one would not wish to be left behind for my grave to be desecrated in the almost inevitable civil war that will follow our eventual withdrawal. I think this also serves as the case for Afghanistan and is all the more underlined by the lack of public support for our current crusades when compared with a venture like the re-taking of the Falklands where losses were viewed as far more valid and so, therefore, was burial overseas. I think the primary concern should be our families- A day trip to France on a ferry is one thing, a pilgrimage to Iraq, or indeed the Falklands, quite another.
  3. Only after the families have been asked first, about repatriation do I feel that we should bring home any of our War dead.
  4. Although there are a lot of Commonwealth War Graves in France, a lot are not.

    From The Commonwealth War Graves website

    A quick trip to, for example, North Africa or Burma are perhaps more difficult than a day trip on the ferry.

    As far as I can see, the problem lies with a lack of resources for the Oxfordshire coroner. It appears that they are attempting to give a service that is far in excess of their normal role.
  5. OS. The only reason we have War Graves in foreign lands is that historically it has been logistically impossible, both in terms of times of transit, technology to preserve the cadaver, and in sheer numbers, to repatriate to the UK.

    We are now well beyond this point and quite rightly too. Most, but not all, families need to physically see the dead body, or at least be able to visit a grave with regularity, to make proper closure.

    The existing graves are places of great beauty and importance, and should be funded properly into the future and preserved for future generations. Reversal of the current repatriation policy - over my dead body guv.

  6. Due to the current operational situations, repatriation is the only option available. The issue with the coroner needs addressing, as it is embarrassing. Contingencies should be put in place to have flights directed to the airport nominated by the next of kin, with associated privacy and security measures in place.

    There also needs to be pressure for the establishment of a national military cemetary and monument to the fallen of this country, along similar lines to what the americans have.
  7. No grave would be respected in the current theatres. Bring 'em home where at least their sacrifice will be respected. In the current Blair climate, headed by a man who can't even bring himself to visit the wounded, the chances of a national military cemetary are slim, but perhaps when someone normal takes over, who knows.
  8. ViroBono

    ViroBono LE Moderator

    It's more than embarrassing, it's a disgrace.
  9. My feelings exactly. Probably desecrated and forgotten in a short while. If I fell in conflict, my family would get some peace being able to visit my resting place in my own country.
    Forces fall all over the world, it is only right and proper to return them to home soil where they will be remembered and respected.

  10. The first link is a little mis-leading. Most of those cemetries listed were not permanent. At the end of WW2 American families were given the choice of permanent burial in a foreign country or their loved one's brought home. The 12 or so permanent American WW2 cemetries represent something like 30% of all War dead.

    I also support the creation of a National Cemetry for current War dead -burial in civilian cemetries means that graves will not be looked after as they fall outside the remit of the CWGC.

  11. Indeed, this is the issue which should be addressed, not whether the fallen should be left in a country where their graves can be desecrated. The world has changed a lot since WW2, there are more barbarians out there. The U.S. were correct in bringing their fallen home in the `60s as following the fall of Saigon many south Vietnamese graves were desecrated to varying degrees and a report in the `90s stated that even German graves from WW2 in Russia were being dug up and looted for trinkets to sell on the black market. Not a situation I`d like to see befalling Brit forces personnel. :x
  12. lets take over any land that the blairs own and turn that into a national military cemetry a bit like the americans did at the end of the US civil war with Robert E Lee's estates in arlington virginia or if they dont own any land the grounds of chequers so that every prime minister we have can see what the results of sending soldiers into battle can be
  13. Interesting question, but I think that nowadays families should be given the choice, and I am sure most would opt for repatriation. As has been said, not easy visiting war graves in far flung corners of the world. If Mr fmp should ever go like that, I would rather be visiting him regularly at home.

    However, there is something very moving about foreign war graves. My great-uncle is buried in France, and the cemetery is beautifully maintained by the CWGC, as are all the other ones I have been to. I also try and visit my local British/Commonwealth war graves plots, just so the occupants are not forgotten about. Some of the fallen I am sure don't get many visits. We also have a big American mil cemetery where I live, again it is intensely moving to see row upon row of plots all carefully and lovingly tended. Gone but certainly not forgotten.
  14. Perhaps the answer to the problem posed by Old Snowy on Coronors Inquests could be dealt with by a change in the Law. All deaths (including Active Service) and MIA were required to be the subject of a Board on Inquiry. Perhaps the results of this could substitute for the Coroner.

    However, I also agree with most of the coments made. Bring the fallen home to a National Military Cemetary, because to bury them where they fell today would undoubtedly lead to grave desecration etc.