CABINET OF THE MINISTER-PRESIDENT OF THE FLEMISH GOVERNMENT, FLEMISH MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND IMMOVABLE HERITAGE.
On Wednesday, 7 June 2017, Geert Bourgeois, Flemish Minister-President and Flemish Minister for Immovable Heritage, and, Sir Tim Laurence, Vice-Chairman of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC), signed a multiannual premium agreement for the execution of restoration works on 24 British Military Cemeteries in Westhoek. The total cost of these restoration is over 6.5 million euro, of which 3.915.393,60 euro subsidy assigned to the CWGC, spread over 5 years.
Photo: Courtesy of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission
“This cooperation with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, and the necessary investment that has been linked to that, proves that Flanders has developed over the course of the last years an important Heritage Strategy to safeguard War Heritage” says Minister-President Bourgeois. “This Heritage is the last bridge between the present and the past. Reinstate, restore and preserve cemeteries, so that we can keep commemorating the thousands of casualties, also long after 2018.”
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission has first been established in 1917 and has the purpose of building and maintaining the graves of the fallen Commonwealth soldiers of both World Wars. The Commission takes care of the graves of 1.7 million casualties, spread over 150 countries.
The office in Ieper manages the cemeteries and memorials in eleven countries in Northern Europe (Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Hungary, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland and Sweden.)
Sir Tim Laurence, vice-chairman of the CWGC: “For a century, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) has cared for the graves, memorials and cemeteries of those who died in two World Wars. Throughout our history, the cemeteries and memorials have evolved naturally – ageing gracefully but remaining true to their founding design and purpose of ensuring those who died will never be forgotten. However work is now needed on many of them to ensure that the very high standards expected by visitors to the sites are maintained.. We are delighted that the historical, cultural and commemorative significance of these sites, and the work of the CWGC in maintaining them, is recognised in the signing of this agreement today. This generous grant will enable vital conservation work to take place – ensuring our cemeteries remain a fitting tribute to those who died and places to visit and remember for generations to come.”
24 British Military Cemeteries on Flemish soil were protected as a monument in 2009. Research executed by the CWGC in 2015-2016 showed that restoration works are necessary to maintain, restore and strengthen the heritage value of these cemeteries and memorials. This study resulted in 2017 in a maintenance plan for these 24 Flemish cemeteries, which also included better accessibility for les mobile or disabled visitors.
In 2017 the urgent restoration works start at ‘Potijze Chateau Ground & Lawn Cemetery’ and ‘Artillery Wood Cemetery’, both situated in Ieper. The CWGC provides signposting to the cemeteries and new information panels on the sites. During the maintenance and restoration work, the sites will remain open to the visitors as much as possible.
List of the cemeteries:
- Ieper: Aeroplane Cemetery
- Ieper: Potijze Chateau Wood Cemetery
- Ieper: Potijze Chateau Ground & Lawn Cemeteries
- Ieper: Canada Farm Cemetery
- Ieper: Artillery Wood Cemetery
- Ieper: Spoilbank Cemetery
- Ieper: Birr Cross Road Cemetery
- Heuvelland: Westoutre British Cemetery
- Ieper: New Irish Farm Cemetery
- Ieper: Tuileries British Cemetery
- Poperinge: Reninghelst New Military Cemetery
- Heuvelland: La Clytte Military Cemetery
- Heuvelland: La Laitiere Military Cemetery
- Ieper: La Brique Military Cemetery n°2
- Poperinge: Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery
- Ieper: Bus House Cemetery
- Ieper: Vlamertinghe New Military Cemetery
- Ieper: Minty Farm Cemetery
- Heuvelland: Spanbroekmolen Britisch Cemetery
- Poperinge: Gwalia Cemetery
- Ieper: Hospital Farm Cemetery
- Ieper: Perth Cemetery (China Wall)
- Ieper: Dochy Farm New British Cemetery
- Langemark-Poelkapelle: Hedge Row Trench Cemetery
More info about the CWGC
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) is a not-for-profit intergovernmental organisation, founded by Fabian Ware and constituted through Royal Charter in 1917. The key aim of the organisation is to honour the 1,700,000 men and women of the forces of the Commonwealth who died in the two world wars and ensure that their memory is never forgotten. The Commission operates in more than 23,000 locations in more than 150 countries. It also holds and updates an extensive and accessible records archive.
After the signing, a demonstration of the engraving techniques took place.
Page made by CWGC.