HC Deb 14 June 1920 vol 130 cc884-6
47. Sir W. DAVISON

asked the Prime Minister whether any arrangements have been made for the erection in France and Flanders of permanent memorials of the heroic deeds performed at various places by troops from the United Kingdom, as has been done by the Australian and Canadian Governments to commemorate the valour of Australian and Canadian soldiers; and whether he is aware that many of the temporary memorials which have been erected are alerady falling into disrepair?

Sir A. WILLIAMSON (Parliamentary Secretary, War Office)

My right hon. Friend has asked me to answer this question. Twenty-eight divisions, 5 brigades, and 36 lesser formations of troops of the United Kingdom have applied to the Battle Exploit Memorials Committee for permissiion to erect, at their own expense, permanent memorials in France, Flanders, and elsewhere. In France free offers of sites have been made by the landowners concerned for memorials at Vieille Chapelle, Fricourt, Bellenglise, La Boiselle, and Fayet; applications have also been received for a number of other sites, such as Givenchy, Beaumont Hamel, Arras, etc. The Belgian Government has offered to reserve sites for possible memorials at Polygon Wood, Passchendaele, Sanctuary Wood, Hooge, Messines, Wyt-schaete, Ypres, and elsewhere. Negotiations are being conducted with local landowners on behalf of those units who are actually prepared to commence the work of erecting memorials. The question as to whether general memorials should be erected at the public expense has been referred by the Cabinet to a Committee, over which Earl Midleton has consented to preside, and this Committee's recommendations are awaited. With regard to temporary memorials, so far as the War Office has been able to ascertain, there are some 66 of these, mostly of wood, in France and Flanders, which were erected on the battlefield by units. Several of the units concerned have been disbanded. The others have been asked whether they had made, or wished to make, any arrangements with regard to their permanent upkeep, but in most cases replied in the negative.


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that, at the east end of Amiens Cathedral, there is a chapel in which is placed the flags of the countries which took part in the defence of Amiens, and that the flags of New Zealand, Australia, Canada, and France are there, but not the Union Jack; and will he take steps to have the Union Jack placed there?


I was not aware of the fact alleged, but I will investigate it, and see if it can be carried out.

Major-General SEELY

Will the right hon. Gentleman not see that these temporary memorials are maintained, even though the units be disbanded, because some are of the greatest historical interest?

Captain LOSEBY

Would it not be possible for the Imperial War Graves Commission to investigate the responsibility for the upkeep of these temporary memorials?


I am not in a position to answer the last part of the question. With regard to the other, as I say, a number of the units do not wish them to be permanently upkept, but I think some of these wooden memorials are on the site where the more permanent memorials will be placed. I am not sure that is so, but, at any rate, I will inquire.