Piper J.C. Richardson and Adanac Military Cemetery

A visitor from British Columbia, Chris Hill takes a picture at Jimmy's graveside, Adanac Military Cemetery, Miraumont, Somme, France, 2009. (P. Ferguson)

A visitor from British Columbia, Chris Hill ,takes a picture at Jimmy’s graveside, Adanac Military Cemetery, Miraumont, Somme, France, 2009. (P. Ferguson)

Soldiers Who Lie Here Row On Row

The award of a humble bronze cross, the Victoria Cross, to Piper James Cleland Richardson has meant much to many people, many communities and many organizations. Jimmy’s story has been told and retold in articles, books and magazines… in exhibits and films and this will not end with the passing of the the 100th anniversary of his actions at Regina Trench, 8/9 October, 1916 – 2016.

Adanac Military Cemetery. (P. Ferguson, 2009)

Adanac Military Cemetery, 2009. (P. Ferguson)

Nor will visitors stop returning to his graveside to pay their respects in the middle of a farmer’s field that is Adanac. The carefully tended garden of souls, Adanac Military Cemetery, is one of many landscapes that comprise the silent cities of France and Flanders. Outside Adanac’s borders the crops grow amidst the soil littered with twisted, rusted fragments and lead spheres that once flew but now, lie like their neighbours behind the walls – still. Within these fields and all around Adanac, are the souls of men pounded into the earth and who have no known grave. Perhaps buried as a Great War soldier known unto God, perhaps not, and commemorated on one of the many memorials that rise from the surface, man-made mountains of names…walk around…look across the fields…Thiepval is not too far away.

Adanac Military Cemetery sign, Imperial War Graves Commission. P. Ferguson, 2009)

Adanac Military Cemetery sign, Imperial War Graves Commission. (P. Ferguson, 2009)

Remind yourself, however,  that we must remember more than the V.C., we must remember Jimmy without the award, for the award does not make the man. Beside Jimmy and all around are the rows of markers with names not so well known, but perhaps known to some. Though many will travel to visit Jimmy, only a few may visit a soldier nearby and for some no one will come.

Soldiers buried beside Jimmy.

The soldiers buried beside Jimmy. Left to Right: A Soldier of the Great War Known unto God. Piper J.C. Richardson V.C., 151121 Private T.E. McLaren, 16th Battalion C.E.F. (P. Ferguson, 2009)

If you are fortunate to visit Adanac or any one of a number of burials or memorials, look, read, and note some name to reflect upon. Think not upon the medal but the man, for many would rather have the person at home than a bronze cross with no one to wear it. In less than a month many will see Jimmy, some for the first time, others will have been time and time again. If there are many in line, there are other souls nearby…and Jimmy would want you to visit his friends and fellow soldiers who lie here row on row.

We will remember them.

A Victoria Cross upon the table…as a relative, friend or lover weeps. We will remember them.

 Did You Know?

The principles of the Commonwealth War Grave Commission (1960 to date), formerly the Imperial War Graves Commission (1917 – 1960) are specific:

  • Each of the dead should be commemorated by name on the headstone or memorial
  • Headstones and memorials should be permanent
  • Headstones should be uniform
  • There should be no distinction made on account of military or civil rank, race or creed

About The Author

Paul has worked with the Paradigm Motion Picture Company since 2009 as producer, historian and research specialist. Paul first met Casey and Ian WIlliams of Paradigm in April 2007 at Ieper (Ypres), Belgium when ceremonies were being held for the re-dedication of the Vimy Memorial, France. Paul's sensitivity to film was developed at an early age seeing his first films at RCAF Zweibrucken, Germany and Sardinia. Paul returned to Canada in 1967 and was captivated by David Lean's "Lawrence of Arabia" and "Bridge on the River Kwai". Over time Paul became increasingly interested in storytelling, content development, character, direction, cinematography, narration and soundtracks. At the University of Victoria, Paul studied and compared Japanese and Australian film and became interested in Australian film maker Peter Weir and his film "Gallipoli" (1981). Paul was inspired when he learned Weir visited the beaches, ridges and ravines of the peninsula. "Gallipoli", the film, led Paul on many journeys to sites of conflict in England, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Malta, Hawaii, Gallipoli, North Macedonia and Salonika. When Paul first watched documentary filmmaker Ken Burns, "The Civil War", Paul understood how his own experience and insight could be effective and perhaps influential in film-making. Combining his knowledge of Museums and Archives, exhibitions and idea strategies with his film interests was a natural progression. Paul thinks like a film-maker. His passion for history and storytelling brings to Paradigm an eye (and ear) to the keen and sensitive interests of; content development, the understanding of successful and relational use of collections, imagery and voice. Like Paul's favorite actor, Peter O'Toole, Paul believes in the adage “To deepen not broaden.” While on this path Paul always remembers his grandmother whose father did not return from the Great War and how his loss shaped her life and how her experience continues to guide him.


One Response to “Piper J.C. Richardson and Adanac Military Cemetery”

  1. pferguson pferguson says:

    There are 3,186 burials at Adanac Military Cemetery. 1,408 record the names of the fallen – 1,708 are “Known Unto God”.

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