Friends of Camberwell Cemeteries have just discovered that the London Borough of Southwark has been burying over WW1 service personnel’s war graves.
And they have been doing it for a decade or more - disrespecting the dead and possibly the law. And without telling the CWGC or anyone else - let alone the families of the dead.
Attached is a map of the burial places of some of those who gave their lives in the First World War buried in just one section of Camberwell Old Cemetery, the 'Island' - Square 5.
Attached are photographs of what is now above them – graves from 2003 and later. The entire area where WW1 soldiers are buried has been developed over.
Southwark should not sell new graves over war graves and should allow the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) to mark their location with a CWGC pattern headstone, as set out in CWGC's Royal Charter.
Southwark should have contacted the CWGC when they started developing over graves in 2003, as the cemetery war memorial lists 131 WW1 service personnel are buried across the cemetery.
Southwark should certainly not have been burying over war graves, but marking these graves and contacting families.
It is even possible Southwark has disturbed remains - which, even now, is illegal in Southwark. We have asked on numerous occasions how burial was carried out - whether Southwark was mounding additional soil over before burying within these graves – without response.
Support the CWGC to stop Southwark developing over War Graves. Email the CWGC: firstname.lastname@example.org
Southwark has a history of disrespecting war graves. CLICK TO READ MORE ABOUT WAR GRAVES IN THE CEMETERY
Southwark listed only six war graves in their misleading 2015 Area Z planning application, rather than the actual 48 CWGC graves.
Only within two years has Southwark even discussed burial plans with the CGWC – and are now negotiating with the CWGC over how many war graves they can get away without marking with the CWGC headstone. Southwark was even planning to build a road over two WW1 soldiers’ graves.
The Island area (which includes parts of squares 93. 94, 95, 3, 4, 5 and 10) predates by nine years Southwark’s 2012 Burial Strategy. This strategy was based on the ‘reuse and reclamation’ of graves.
The site holds mostly public graves for people who could not afford private graves.
Were the new purchasers of burial plots told they would be buried over existing graves, let alone WW1 soldiers' war graves?
Here are some of the WW1 service personnel who are buried in Squares 3, 4 and 5 in the Island, or are likely to be buried on the Island, and believed to be buried over. Data from CWGC website.
Private BLAKE, WILLIAM DoD: 15/01/1919 Roy Army Serv Corps Husband of: Emily Blake, Bella Vista, Stourghton Rd., Guilford). Square 4 Grave number 25731
Private BLUTE, FREDERICK DoD: 24/01/1916 National Reserve, Supernumerary Coy. Husband of: Margaret Blute, 52, Bells Garden Road, Peckham, Surrey. Served in the South African War).
Square 5 Grave number 24220
Boy 2nd Cl. GLEN, WILLIAM DoD: 05/10/1918 RN, H.M.S. "Powerful." (Son of: William & Hannah Glen, O'Connor Avenue, Ryde, Sydney, New South Wales.)
Square 4 Grave number 25254
Private HUGHES, P. C. DoD: 12/07/1916 [Roy] Army Serv Corps, (Hereford) [1916 faulty] (Son: Charles Sanders Hughes & Annie Hughes, 86, Green Street, Hereford).
Square 5 Grave number 24259
Air Mechanic NORRIS, W. H. DoD: 15/12/1916 Roy Flying Corps (Unlisted family)
Square 5 Grave number 24282
Gunner PEW, STANLEY HERBERT DoD: 22/05/1918 [Labour Corps &] Roy Field Artillery (Brother H. E. Pew, 2, Dundas Rd, Peckham,London).
Square 3 Grave number 25237 (Location not confirmed)
Private ROBINSON, J. E. DoD: 11/12/1917 The Buffs (East Kent Reg), 10th (R. East Kent &W. Kent Yeomanry) Bn. (Unlisted family)
Square 3 Grave number 24950 (Location not confirmed)
Rifleman SCOREY, C. F. DoD: 15/02/1915 Rifle Brigade, 3rd Bn. (Son of: William & Emily Scorey, 36, Coleman Rd., Camberwell, London).
Square 4 Grave number 23753 (Location not confirmed)
Private THOMPSON, H. DoD: 04/05/1916 [Roy] Army Serv Corps,52nd Mechal Transport Coy. (Aldershot) (Son of: Henry &Mary Thompson; Husband of: Daisy R. Thompson, 3, Sturdy Rd., Peckham, London).
Square 5 Grave number 24246
Lead Airman TIPSON, H. G. DoD: 15/03/1919 RAF, Stores Park (Ely). (Son of: Fredrick S. Tipson, 100, Hill St., Peckham, London).
Square 4 Grave number 25754
Private TOMLINSON, A. DoD: 09/09/1919 London Reg, 22nd Bn. (Husband of: Mrs. R. Tomlinson, 52, Cowan St., Albany Rd., Camberwell, London).
Square 3 Grave number 25780
WW1 and WW2 service personnel from across the Forces are buried throughout Camberwell Old Cemetery.
The CWGC also holds family records and contact details.
When will Southwark finally accept they must care for the soldiers and everyone else buried in the Camberwell Cemeteries, protect their graves and make the cemeteries nature reserves?
For more information:
Chair, Friends of Camberwell Cemeteries
The Save Southwark Woods Campaign
07731 304 966
Facebook: Friends of Camberwell Cemeteries - Save Southwark Woods
BELOW: Has Southwark been developing over War Graves - even selling 'new' graves over war graves - for years? At least seven WW1 service personnel are buried in one public grave of Camberwell Old Cemetery. Photos: Graves in the 'Island' dug after 2003.
The Friends of Camberwell Cemeteries, the Save Southwark Woods Campaign is fighting to protect the graves of WW1 and WW2 servicemen and women by making them cemetery nature reserves.
BELOW: Remains found in Camberwell Old Cemetery in 2008 and reported by the South London Press.
BELOW: Southwark is in the midst of the largest grave exclamation and reuse program in Britain. This is Area Z in the Old Cemetery where 48 war graves are buried.
BELOW: Map of Square 5 of Camberwell Old Cemetery in the 'Island'. At least four of war graves are located in the area which has been redeveloped.