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Author Topic: Military Murderers Honoured by CWGC  (Read 395 times)
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Andy Saunders
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« on: June 16, 2012, 17:27:59 PM »

There is a Sussex connection to at least two of the murderers commemorated on the Brookwood Memorial and to which the following petition refers. Perhaps you'd have a look, sign it and pass on the word?

http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/25376
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John
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« Reply #1 on: May 12, 2018, 16:06:26 PM »

One of those killers on the Brookwood Memorial is Private August Sangret:

The murder of Joan Wolfe, Thursley, 1942

Another is Private Charles Raymond:

Aircraftwoman 1st Class Marguerite Burge, murdered


Although the petition mentioned in the first post closed with only a measly 140 signatures, I'm firmly of the opinion that the names of murderers should not be commemorated by the CWGC, or at least not inscribed on a memorial such as this. How do others on here feel?

The CWGC say..

The BROOKWOOD 1939-1945 MEMORIAL commemorates nearly 3,500 men and women of the land forces of the Commonwealth who died during the Second World War and have no known grave, the circumstances of their death being such that they could not appropriately be commemorated on any of the campaign memorials in the various theatres of war.

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I voted to leave the European Union..
Craggs
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« Reply #2 on: May 13, 2018, 07:44:48 AM »

I read John's post late yesterday afternoon and have mulled this over quite a bit before replying.

My basic thought and feeling is that those servicemen convicted of murder and judicially executed should not have been commemorated on such war memorials - but I don't think that 'blame' should rest with the CWGC

The subject is far more complicated than it first appears.

The British judicial system covering both World Wars meant that those servicemen convicted of murder in this country were executed in a 'civilian' jail - such as Wandsworth.  Their bodies were buried in unmarked graves in the prison cemetery within the prison walls.  The old one in Wandsworth Prison is now tarmac'd over.  In essence, they do have a known grave.

In WWI those British soldiers executed for murder 'on the Western Front' were buried in Military Cemeteries, next to their comrades who had been killed in action - and there was no distinction made between either.   They were tried and executed 'in the field' and buried in the next available grave.  That was before the CWGC started to exist.  

I'm not really sure about those British soldiers executed for murder in WWII in foreign countries.

I'm currently reading a very good book by David Crane called "Empires of the Dead" which details how the Empire tried to deal with grief on a colossal scale at the end of WWI and how to bury the dead.  The creation of Commonwealth war cemeteries was thought up by an ambulance commander named Fabian Ware.  This eventually led to the Imperial War Graves Commission and then on to the CWGC as we know it today.    Thousands of men were lying in temporary makeshift graves all across the western Front, sometimes in ones and twos, sometimes dozens and sometimes more.  Most were exhumed and re-buried in larger Commonwealth war cemeteries - how they died did not matter. The underlying principle was the care for the dead. That principle continued with the IWGC and the CWGC.

I've been to many war cemeteries in France and Belgium, probably hundreds.  I've visited cemeteries where executed soldiers are buried - next to men who died in action.  Each cemetery has two books at the entrance - one book is an index of those buries there and the other is for comments by visitors.  Sadly I have seen graffiti in these books when it comes to the entries for soldiers executed for desertion or cowardice (I haven't seen it for soldiers executed for murder).  I've seen pages wrapped out, names scrawled out, pro- comments and anti-comments.  I've been back to these cemeteries and the CWGC have replaced the pages - only to see more graffiti.  I find that type of behaviour very very sad and totally unnecessary.

The CWGC care for our fallen.  It is also a fact that it is only in the last couple of decades that great interest has been generated in this type of history.  When the Brookwood Memorial was built and unveiled in 1958 there wasn't much interest across the Nation.  If the memorial was to be built and unveiled today then every name would be examined before it was inscribed, argued and debated over, rubbed out and then reinstated in the draft copies, someone would end up taking the CWGC to court and it would be a big mess.

I pass the HQ of the CWGC every time I go to France.  One of my friends went there a few weeks ago and spoke to one of the staff.  He questioned why the CWGC database had recently changed as it had made research by historians more difficult.  He was politely told that the CWGC did not exist for the benefit of historians - "We look after your dead".

Once again I have said my piece.  Remember, it is my opinion.  I'll finish with a few words about the Brookwood Memorial. I agree that the names of the murderers should not have been inscribed.  There are, however, probably dozens of men and women whose names should be on there and are not.  Consider who gave the list to the architect and masons to create the inscriptions - where did they get it from, who compiled it ?  Well before the days of computers as we know it.  Leave the memorial as it is but learn lessons for future memorials.

To end : the actual inscription on the memorial itself reads :

1939-1945.  THIS MEMORIAL BEARS THE NAMES OF THREE THOUSAND FIVE HUNDRED MEN AND WOMEN OF THE FORCES OF THE BRITISH COMMONWEALTH AND EMPIRE WHO GAVE THEIR LIVES IN THEIR OWN COUNTRY AND MANY FOREIGN LANDS, IN HOME AND DISTANT WATERS, IN THE CAMPAIGN OF 1940 IN NORWAY AND IN LATER RAIDS ON THE COASTS OF EUROPE AND TO WHOM THE FORTUNES OF WAR DENIED A KNOWN AND HONOURED GRAVE.
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kate
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« Reply #3 on: May 13, 2018, 09:45:35 AM »

I agree that the names of the murderers should not have been inscribed, but I cannot think how this may be rectified without opening a huge can of worms. If we are to have removals, should there then be additions?
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