Beside a Prince and a Private

Some tools of the trade. Equipment used by headstone engravers of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. CWGC Information Centre, Ypres. (P. Ferguson image, August 2018)

Some tools of the trade. Equipment used by headstone engravers of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. CWGC Information Centre, Ypres.
(P. Ferguson image, August 2018)

Thread Nine

The considerable work of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission [CWGC] is evident across the globe. I have visited their work at many sites in Canada and North West Europe, Malta, and Turkey.

Headstones and memorials require continual maintenance and often I have been delighted to see their work in progress as gardeners and stone masons tend the myriad of plantings and built landscapes carefully thought out to preserve these places of commemoration.

Apart from gardeners and masons, there are landscapers, painters, metal workers, tree surgeons, and other tradesmen, as well as a large number of staff who maintain the records of these souls who reside in their care. Together their work is seen as one…a fine standard to uphold and cherish by those of us who visit perhaps once in their lifetime or for some of us – on several occasions.

Not all that long ago a CWGC information centre was opened near to Menin Gate. Here CWGC staff assist visitors in trying to find their family’s loved ones and ancestors. One only has to visit these places of commemoration to see evidence of those who have taken steps to reconnect their Great War to themselves. It is family, it is a shared heritage…family…community…region…nation.

In Ypres, this August 2018, we walked from Ypres Reservoir Cemetery to Ypres Town Cemetery…the Menin Gate Memorial…to Woods Military Cemetery. We have stood beside a Prince and a Private, read messages from across this globe and stopped to look a little closer. Long may it continue that we are able to share our interests with our readers thanks to the vision of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.


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 in Sardinia. Paul returned to Canada in 1967 and was further amazed by David Lean's "Lawrence of Arabia" and "Bridge on the River Kwai". Film captivated Paul and with time he became increasingly interested in storytelling, content development, character, direction, cinematography 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 entranced when he learned Weir had visited the beaches, ridges and ravines of the peninsula. The film "Gallipoli" alone led Paul on many journeys to sites of conflict in England, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Malta, Hawaii and Gallipoli. It was, however, when Paul watched documentary filmmaker Ken Burns, "The Civil War", that 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 would be 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, he 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.


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