Christchurch War Graves Plaque
People concerned in the campaign gather to see the plaque unveiled
Alan Gregson (WFA member from Stoak and long time researcher into the men of the memorial)
Julie Proctor (council bereavement services manager who oversaw the co-ordination and installation of the plaque)
Mike Royden (Whitby High School History teacher, webmaster of this site who began the campaign)
Cllr Justin Madders (council leader)
Whitby High Students (Year 9 2007) whose research work can be found on this site (see soldiers records)
Peter Glosie-Phillips, Jessica McHale, Katy Radcliffe, Charlotte Walton
David Pearson (YMCA chief executive who manages Christchurch)
Phil Robinson (editor of the Pioneer who has backed the campaign throughout)
War Graves Road Sign
Although we are grateful for all the efforts by the concerned parties so far for the installation of the fitting plaque at Christchurch, our hopes are still for the positioning of a road sign on the main road opposite. All war graves managed by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission utilise such signs in a prominent position . The majority of these road signs are in France and Belgium, but they are sited all over the world where Commonwealth service men and women are laid to rest. They are also found in great numbers in the UK where burials have also taken place. A local example is at Blacon Cemetery where many Chester war dead are buried.
They are usually erected where the CWGC owns the cemetery. In the case of Christchurch however the local authority owns the plot. When we enquired at the CWGC if there was a possibility of them erecting a sign this was their reply;
Dear Mr Royden
As you may know the vast majority of our cemeteries and memorials in France and Belgium have a Commission Road Directional Sign but this is not the case with the 13,000 plus sites in the UK - the vast majority of which are not owned, directly controlled or maintained by the Commission.
There is no definitive list of the number of signs in the UK but the few that exist are not all the distinctive ‘green and white’ signs but Local Authority versions, often ‘black and white’. Local authority permission also has to be granted before a sign is erected because, as mentioned above, with a few notable exceptions, the Commission does not own its cemeteries, another difference between the operations in the UK and overseas. There is a Commission sign at Chester Blacon Cemetery which has 560 casualties but this is the exception rather than the rule. Ellesmere Port is a local authority churchyard and should you wish to approach the local authorities to ask for their signage, the Commission would have no objection.
Therefore there is still no reason why a black and white sign cannot be erected, but this would have to be under the jurisdiction of the local council and not the CWGC. We do hope that the council can look favourably upon this and appreciate that the plaque, a fine work that it is, cannot be viewed from the road. The purpose of our campaign was to draw attention to the fact that the war graves are actually there and this can only be done with the erection of a direction sign from the main road coming into Ellesmere Port directly opposite Christchurch. If other local authorities can do this, why not Ellesmere Port?
As the pupils ask ‘What is the difference between erecting a sign on the Western Front’ and one in Ellesmere Port? These men are all war heroes wherever they are and we should be proud of our own’.
Please support our campaign and write to your local MP, local councillor or the Pioneer