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  #1  
Old 22-04-21, 07:59 AM
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Default Commonwealth War Graves Commission - Announcement

I'm sure many of you will have read about the report into the "war graves racism" of WW1 by the Imperial War Graves Commission - below is the response on the CWGC web site and a link to the full report.

Founded over a century ago to commemorate the First World War dead of the British Empire, from the outset the Imperial War Grave Commissionís work was defined by the principle of equality of treatment in death. Whatever an individualís rank in social or military life, whatever their religion, they would be commemorated identically Ė with their name engraved either on a headstone over an identified grave or on a memorial to the missing. This report finds that, although the organisation upheld its promise of equality of treatment in Europe, this was not always the case for certain ethnic groups elsewhere.

This report estimates that between 45,000 and 54,000 casualties (predominantly Indian, East African, West African, Egyptian and Somali personnel) were commemorated unequally.

A further 116,000 casualties (predominantly, but not exclusively, East African and Egyptian personnel) but potentially as many as 350,000, were not commemorated by name or possibly not commemorated at all.

Although conditions and circumstances sometimes made the IWGCís job difficult or even impossible, on many occasions differences in commemoration were avoidable. This report finds that the IWGC is responsible for these shortcomings Ė either because of its own decision making or its complicity in the decision making of other authorities. In certain circumstances the IWGC did not stand by its principles or insist upon them being upheld. This would not have happened in Europe.

Despite clearly making this argument, this report also shines a light on wider administrative errors and prejudiced attitudes that influenced or played a role in bringing about these issues.

Ultimately, many of these errors and attitudes belonged to departments of the British Imperial Government, including the War Office and Colonial Office.


https://www.cwgc.org/non-commemorati...eid=58b9e597f0
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  #2  
Old 22-04-21, 08:52 AM
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Headline news on the BBC but while I agree it was wrong I think that applying todays standards to events that happened 100 years ago is pointless.

Social , political and cultural 'norms' were very different and there are many lessons to be learned but the modern (social media driven) situation of people/companies/institutions having to issue an apology for 'historical' practices seems to be more about 'appearance' (fear of bad publicity) .

Quote:
The investigation was set up by the commission in 2019, following a Channel 4 documentary, Unremembered, presented by Labour MP and shadow justice secretary David Lammy.
Everyone Remembered

Quote:
The Royal British Legion, as the UKís national custodian of Remembrance is working with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission to keep alive the memory of those who died in the First World War. By the end of the Centenary in 2018, our objective is to ensure every fallen hero from across the Commonwealth is remembered individually by those living today.


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Last edited by mike_vee; 22-04-21 at 08:58 AM.
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  #3  
Old 22-04-21, 10:41 AM
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I fully agree with you Mike - and the sad thing is that the Imperial War Graves Commission was so far ahead of its time when it announced in January 1918 -"the Commission's decision is that those who have given their lives are members of one family, and children of one mother who owes to all an equal tribute of gratitude and affection, and that in death, all, from General to Private of whatever race or creed, should receive equal honour under a memorial which should be the common symbol of their comradeship and of the cause for which they died" - There was criticism of this stance from a lot of quarters , based on class ( officers should have a bigger headstone! ) religion ( the headstone was not Christian enough ) etc etc - most of this criticism was very publicly aired in the newspapers of the time especially The Spectator and the Daily Mail. Even Rudyard Kipling (one of the commissioners of the IWGC ) was denounced as being not an appropriate choice for devising the inscription on the standard memorials as he was "not a known religious man" - the phrase Kipling had come up with for unidentified remains was - " A soldier of the Great War ..Known unto God"

So its sad that a generation that doesn't read beyond the Headlines will now believe that the CWGC is "institutionally racist" - when nothing could be further from the truth.
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Old 22-04-21, 12:03 PM
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Originally Posted by gurkharifles View Post
So its sad that a generation that doesn't read beyond the Headlines will now believe that the CWGC is "institutionally racist" - when nothing could be further from the truth.
I've just read the Executive Summary of the report and one paragraph stood out :

Quote:
Most of these men were commemorated by memorials that did not carry their names – in part because the IWGC was never furnished with their names or places of burial by the military or colonial authorities, in part because it chose to diverge from its principles in the belief that the communities these men came from would not recognise or value such individual forms of commemoration.
So , the IWGC is being blamed because information was not passed on to them !

Also , many nationalites/religions did not routinely mark graves (this still applies today) and the IWGC was (perhaps mistakenly) trying to repect their cultural beliefs.
Yet the governor of a British colony is accused of making "racist comments" for stating this.

The problem today is that if you do not agree 100% with certain opinions you are branded a racist or an apologist for past events.

Britains involvement in the slave trade was wrong (by todays standards) but slavery has existed in Africa for thousands of years . Who built the pyramids ?

Quote:
Slavery has historically been widespread in Africa. Systems of servitude and slavery were common in parts of Africa in ancient times.

When the trans-Saharan slave trade, Indian Ocean slave trade and Atlantic slave trade (which started in the 16th century) began, many of the pre-existing local African slave systems began supplying captives for slave markets outside Africa.
The CWGC were (and are still) doing great and worthy work and their reputation does not deserve to be tarnished .


Edit : Just been reported that the Government has also now issued an apology !

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Old 22-04-21, 10:34 PM
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Default The apology trend

Now that the world is much more enlightened than at any time in the past, let's not forget that the Mayor and the Common Council of Rome owe an apology and compensation for the Rape of the Sabine Women in the 8th. century B.C. by a bunch of out of control Roman squaddies.
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Old 22-04-21, 10:57 PM
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Originally Posted by gurkharifles View Post

A further 116,000 casualties (predominantly, but not exclusively, East African and Egyptian personnel) but potentially as many as 350,000, were not commemorated by name or possibly not commemorated at all.
Lest we forget, powerful words often used on here. It seems we forgot.

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Originally Posted by gurkharifles View Post

. This would not have happened in Europe..
Itís 2021, find their names where we can, carve them in stone.
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Old 22-04-21, 11:08 PM
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. Who built the pyramids ?

.
Aliens 👽 obviously!

I believe they have recently excavated remains of villages belonging to the workers plus some tombs and the current academic thinking is they were not slaves.
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Old 23-04-21, 12:46 PM
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I wholeheartedly agree that all the casualties of war should be remembered equally but as soon as I read the name of that gobshite David Lammy that was it for me. I'm sick and tired of people putting down Great Britain and the British people and I'm also sick and tired of the woke apologists who suck up to the point-scoring stirrers. We can't change history, what's done is done, there's no going back, just get over it. Have a nice day!!.
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Old 23-04-21, 02:43 PM
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I watched a few more news reports and the impression given by the various "talking heads" (including Lammy) is that the IWGC/CWGC were a bunch of 'racists' who did not respect the sacrifices made by the numerous Commonwealth forces that died.

Perhaps they have never heard of these memorials :

NEUVE-CHAPELLE MEMORIAL

The Indian Memorial at Neuve Chapelle commemorates over 4,700 Indian soldiers and labourers who lost their lives on the Western Front during the First World War and have no known graves. The location of the memorial was specially chosen as it was at Neuve Chapelle in March 1915 that the Indian Corps fought its first major action as a single unit.

The memorial was designed by the celebrated British architect, Sir Herbert Baker, and unveiled by the Earl of Birkenhead on 7 October 1927. Lord Birkenhead, then Secretary of State for India, had served as a staff officer with the Indian Corps during the war. The ceremony was also attended by the Maharaja of Karputhala, Marshal Ferdinand Foch, Rudyard Kipling, and a large contingent of Indian veterans..

Almost 5,000 of the dead have no known grave and are commemorated on the Menin Gate at Ieper and here at Neuve Chapelle.

https://www.cwgc.org/visit-us/find-c...elle-memorial/

NB. On the city walls near the Menin Gate are further memorials to Allied soldiers who fought and died at Ypres, the most notable being those to the Gurkhas and Indian soldiers.


The India Gate (formerly known as the All India War Memorial)

The India Gate was part of the work of the Imperial War Graves Commission (I.W.G.C), which came into existence in December 1917 under the British rule for building war graves and memorials to soldiers who were killed in the First World War . The foundation stone of the gate, then called the All India War Memorial, was laid on 10 February 1921

13,218 war dead are commemorated by their names on the gate.

NB. India did not want memorials as it "was ashamed of its soldiers' participation in a colonial war and saw nothing to celebrate".

https://www.cwgc.org/visit-us/find-c...India%20Gate)/


The CWGC site also mentions the Imphal Indian Army War Cemetery where there are 828 Commonwealth burials of WW2 plus ;
Quote:
At the southern end of the cemetery stands the IMPHAL CREMATION MEMORIAL which commemorates 868 soldiers and airmen of the Hindu and Sikh faiths, killed in the battle for Imphal whose remains were cremated in accordance with their faith.
So , no gravestone may not have been 'racist' and out of respect for their beliefs.


One final point , how many British soldiers killed in WW1 are not buried/have a headstone in CWGC cemeteries ?

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Last edited by mike_vee; 23-04-21 at 03:05 PM.
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Old 23-04-21, 04:54 PM
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This whole episode is a stain on the History of our Nation. The people in the position at that time where in fact quite dishonourable, by not honouring all members that fought for our freedom. The hierarchy of the Nation shafting the little people again. And again " Windrush ".....
Andy
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Old 23-04-21, 07:53 PM
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Hoot,
I wholeheartedly echo your sentiments.
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Old 23-04-21, 09:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hoot View Post
I wholeheartedly agree that all the casualties of war should be remembered equally but as soon as I read the name of that gobshite David Lammy that was it for me. I'm sick and tired of people putting down Great Britain and the British people and I'm also sick and tired of the woke apologists who suck up to the point-scoring stirrers. We can't change history, what's done is done, there's no going back, just get over it. Have a nice day!!.
Spot on Hoot. I'm in absolute agreement.

Please don't get me going on the current state of woke and suchlike lily livered snowflakes.

As I have said previously, the people who are allegedly running this country bow down to any complaint made by a minority which has culminated in the position we are in today.

Regards.

Brian
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Old 24-04-21, 10:35 AM
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Originally Posted by grenadierguardsman View Post
This whole episode is a stain on the History of our Nation. The people in the position at that time where in fact quite dishonourable, by not honouring all members that fought for our freedom. The hierarchy of the Nation shafting the little people again. And again " Windrush ".....
Andy
While mistakes were made I honestly believe that not all of the criticism of the IWGC/CWGC is justified.

To have a headstone the war dead had to be positively identified and their bodies recovered , in many cases (both British and Commonwealth) this was not possible . When this happened Memorials were erected , the Menin Gate is one example and similar Memorials exist in numerous Commonwealth countries.(eg.India Gate)

I have mentioned religous/cultural aspects but there were other factors to be considered , one WW1 example I found highlights this.

One article states :
Quote:
She had found references to “vast Carrier Corps cemeteries” in Dar es Salaam. We were standing in one. It was entirely unmarked; no plaque, let alone a gravestone, was anywhere in sight. Beneath our feet were as many as 10,000 Africans who had served Britain. Unremembered.
Yet , another points out :
Quote:
During the First World War around 125,000 Egyptian men supported British Empire Forces as part of the Egyptian Labour Corps (ELC) and the Camel Transport Corps (CTC).

However, when those serving with the ELC or CTC died, their units often buried them in unmarked graves or kept sporadic records, if at all. It’s estimated around 10,000 to 50,000 died during the First World War but an accurate number is impossible to know without proper records.

By the time the Commission was able to gain access to East Africa and begin the difficult work of locating the First World War dead there was little to no information available about the majority of Africans who had served, including accurate death tolls or burial locations or even their names.
The EAST AFRICA MEMORIAL bears the inscripition :

Quote:
1939 - 1945 THE COLUMNS IN THIS ENCLOSURE BEAR THE NAMES OF TWO THOUSAND FOUR HUNDRED MEN AND WOMEN OF MANY RACES UNITED IN SERVICE TO THE BRITISH CROWN WHO GAVE THEIR LIVES IN ITALIAN SOMALILAND, SOUTHERN ETHIOPIA, KENYA AND MADAGASCAR, BUT TO WHOM THE FORTUNE OF WAR DENIED A KNOWN AND HONOURED GRAVE.
Besides those who died in these campaigns, many men and women who were lost in the sinking of the troopship 'Khedive Ismail' en route to Ceylon on 12 February 1944 are commemorated here; they include a great part of the 301st Field Regiment, East African Artillery.

So while individual headstones were not always possible they were not "forgotten" and their service was remembered and honoured.

NB. Since the erection of the memorial and engraving of the dedicatory panels the burial places of 188 casualties have since been discovered and they are now correctly commemorated by headstone at the graves.

Perhaps , one day , someone will do research and publish the number of British/Canadian/New Zealander/Australian forces who do not have a 'marked' grave but are simply remembered/honoured on Memorials. (The Menin Gate contains names on stone panels of 54,395 Commonwealth soldiers who died in the Salient but whose bodies have never been identified or found.)

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Old 24-04-21, 11:44 AM
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It is interesting that this particular debate on this particular forum is civilised and objective.
Unlike a debate on the same subject on a certain other forum which is dedicated to the Great War. That debate has descended into a rather distasteful slanging match.
Keep it up chaps.
T
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