354,000 euros for the restoration of Commonwealth war cemeteries
10/07/2020 - Vlamertinge - Source: Commonwealth War Graves Commission
Matthias Diependaele, Flemish Minister of Heritage, grants 354,291 euros for the restoration of Commonwealth war cemeteries. “The military cemeteries in West Flanders are part of the landscape. They are astonishing reminders of the importance of peace. I am therefore delighted that the Commonwealth War Graves Commission cares for these cemeteries in an immaculate way and I gladly support them. By investing in this specific heritage project we ensure the physical remembrance of the two world wars. This is important, as this is where peace education begins.” says Minister Diependaele.

In 2017 the Flemish Government and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) signed a multiple funding agreement for the execution of restoration works at 24 Commonwealth war cemeteries in Flanders. As a result the CWGC was granted a restoration premium of 3,915,393.60 euros, which will be spread over 5 years (2017-2021).

In 2017, the CWGC commenced urgent restoration works at some of its cemeteries. This was followed by further restoration works to the boundary walls of various sites.  Restoration works will continue in 2020 at the following 7 cemeteries: 
  • Ieper: Minty Farm Cemetery
  • Ieper: Hospital Farm Cemetery
  • Ieper: Bus House Cemetery
  • Ieper: Vlamertinghe New Military Cemetery
  • Poperinge: Gwalia Cemetery
  • Poperinge: Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery
  • Heuvelland: Spanbroekmolen British Cemetery
Flemish Minister, Matthias Diependale: ‘Heritage and tourism go hand in hand; investing in our rich history gives a great boost to various sectors: the building sector, tourism, the catering industry, etc. Research carried out in 2015-2016 determined that restoration works were deemed necessary to maintain the heritage value of the cemeteries and memorials. On the basis of these results, a conservation plan was drawn up. In addition to the restoration works, works to improve accessibility for visitors with mobility problems are also included in the plan.”

Geert Bekaert (lleft), Area Director WEA Central CWGC, guides the Minister on one of the cemeteries.

Director General CWGC, Barry Murphy: “The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) is delighted that the historical, cultural and commemorative significance of our cemeteries and memorials in the former Ypres Salient, and the work of CWGC in maintaining them, is recognised through this partnership. This generous support is a vital component in our ongoing work to care for these places of memory. Our much cherished partnership enables us to conserve our sites – ensuring they remain a fitting tribute to those who died and places to visit and remember for generations to come. Long may our association continue.”

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission

The CWGC was founded in 1917. It honours and cares for the 1.7 million men and women of the Commonwealth forces who died in the First and Second World Wars, ensuring they will never be forgotten. Funded by six Member Governments, its work began with building, and now maintaining, cemeteries and memorials at 23,000 locations all over the world.

Today, over a century after it first began, the work continues through its staff, supporters and volunteers who preserve our unique cultural, horticultural and architectural heritage and ensure that the stories of those who died are told.

The office of the CWGC in Ieper is responsible for the cemeteries and memorials in 9 countries in Western Europe (Belgium, The Netherlands, Germany, Luxembourg, Poland, Austria, Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania).