Military historian’s Probus Club talk

New president David Barclay chaired the meeting of Ellon Probus Club on November 14 and welcomed fellow club member and dedicated military historian Alan Barker as speaker.

Alan’s illustrated talk was on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) and the role it continues to play in the memory and respect for military personnel who have given their lives in the service of their country.

The CWGC is funded by the Commonwealth governments and it currently maintains a mind-blowing 23,000 cemeteries and memorials spread across 153 countries.

The CWGC was born from the vision and determination of Sir Fabian Ware, who at age 45 was too old to join the army but instead joined the British Red Cross where he became commander of a mobile hospital unit on the Western Front.

Aghast at the number of casualties suffered during 1914-15 he felt morally driven to establish a way to ensure that the final resting places of the dead would not be forgotten and lost forever. His unit began to record and care for all the graves they could find and in 1915 their work was given official recognition by the War Office.

The values and aims of the CWGC laid out in 1917 remain as relevant now as they were almost 100 years ago - ‘the dead shall be remembered’.

A vote of thanks was given by Rickie Argo.