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Paul Gough
Conifers and Commemoration - the Protocol of Planting

A version of this paper was published in Landscape Research vol 21, no 1 (1996) issn 0142 6397


This study examines the symbolic role of trees, shrubs and flowers on 20th century battle grounds and military cemeteries. By By focussing on the imagery of commemoration and on the power of horticultural symbols the paper explores the emergence of an iconography during wartime and its perpetuation in ritualised peacetime landscapes. The paper makes specific reference to the Western Front in France and Belgium, and to the consecrated ground of the Dardenelles peninsula - a commemorative terrain that is being infiltrated by Turkish planting and memorial schemes that are bringing into sharp focus the problems of maintaining Christian burial grounds in perpetuity across the globe. The paper concludes by asking whether tree planting may have replaced memorial building in the rhetoric and culture of commemoration.

The symbolic role of particular trees and flowers associated with death and mourning is fully articulated in most dictionaries of traditional symbols and signs. (Whittick, 1960, Cooper, 1978, Cirlot, 1988) The yew, weeping willow, cypress and rosemary have a central role in this symbology derived in the main from traditional Christian sources. The weeping willow (salix babylonica), for instance, derives its name from Psalm 137 which relates the story of the Jews' lament for Zion while in captivity, when they sat by the rivers of Babylon and wept and hung their 'harps in the willows'. With its gracefully wilting branches and mournful demeanour the willow became a symbol of mourning that enjoyed especial popularity in English grave monuments and funerary plaques in the mid-19th century (1) (Llewellyn, 1991). The cypress, by comparison, may be a pre-Christian symbol of death, as it is clearly evident in the tomb gardens of Pompeii. (Jashemski, 1979) It was much revered as a symbol of death because it was thought that it was the only tree that once cut down would never grow again (Whittick, 1960). Simon Schama has usefully related the appropriation of pagan arboreal symbols onto Christian iconography (Schama, 1995) but in summary we can assume that these four trees are widely accepted funerary symbols evoking notions of mourning, immortality and regeneration.

Death in warfare, though, has its own arboreal iconography. In the popular imagination the two flowers most readily associated with martial death and prolonged national mourning are the rose and the poppy. The rose, as Paul Fussell, has pointed out represents the paradigm of Englishness as well as bearing the 'traditional priority amongst apocalyptic flowers'(2) It has assumed a gigantic importance in the commemorative language of all wars fought by the British this century and is sufficiently emotive to divert even the most fastidious of historians. In a gesture more emotional than factual, for example, one usually exacting writer asserts that the rose is so numerous in British war cemeteries that 'the shadow of an English rose falls across every grave at some time during the day'(3) As if to rise to the challenge and satisfy the emotional need for this national symbol the authorities planted 57,000 roses in France, Belgium, Germany and the United Kingdom during 1993 - 94.(4)

Whereas the rose has to be carefully nurtured and cared for within a proper horticultual regime, the poppy grows erratically and without warning on broken ground. Although it has a vital role in the mythology and visual culture of the Great War its unpredictable and short life-span affords it no actual place in a formal planting system. In a sense, the rose and the poppy mark the two poles of horticultural symbolism, the one formal, labour-intensive and permanent; the other arbitrary, spontaneous and ephemeral.

The role of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) is crucial in the development of this horticultural symbolism. Its jurisdiction reaches far beyond the commonwealth, with the commission responsible for over 23, 000 cemeteries in 146 countries. In Britain alone it maintains over 12,000 separate burial gounds containing a total of 170,000 identified graves. But the burden of its work lies in France and Belgium. These two countries contain, respectively, 356,775 and 102,462 identified burials located in 3,500 named cemeteries. Turkey, by comparison, has a mere 36 Commonwealth cemeteries, nearly all gathered on the seaward slopes of the Dardanelles Peninsula.

The recent spate of war anniversaries has stimulated considerable growth in recent British military history and the sites of these conflicts. Pilgrimages, once the prerogative of the veteran, have become hugely popular giving rise to a sizeable tourist market that sustains at least half a dozen travel firms. The larger part of these tours is spent inspecting the CWGC cemeteries whose history has been fully recounted in several studies (Longworth, 1967 and Hurst, 1929) while the individual social histories of war memorials has been extensively researched by Alan Borg (1991) and Middlebrook. (1991) Gazetteers and guidebooks to the old battlefields in France and Belgium have been available since 1919 but in the last 10 years there has been a flood of literature for the field archaeologist and diligent tourist with books by Middlebrook, Coombes and Holmes amongst many others. The architectural framework has been examined in studies of memorial building (Curl, 1980 and Colvin, H. 1992) and some interesting work has been done on the symbolism of plants in funerary environments (Colvin, B. 1947 and Schaal, 1994). Although Schaal has taken the design of funerary planting to its sculptural extreme - craters of weeping willows, arcs of cypresses - there has been suprisingly little explanatory work on the role of plants in military commemoration.

Recent cultural studies by Samuel Hynes (1990) and Modris Eksteins (1989) have cast a critical eye on the rhetoric of memorial architecture (and the rise of 'anti- memorials' in literature and painting) but only Paul Fussell (1975) explores the relationship between the English pastoral tradition and its revival in times of extreme crisis. Elsewhere most writers pay homage to the extraordinary care and devotion given by the CWGC gardeners to these corners of a foreign field but very few pause to examine the symbolic language and assumptions implicit in the planting and design of these cemeteries.

Much of the political and administrative framework that has helped shape these British military cemeteries has been thrown into sharp relief by recent events in south- west Turkey where a large tract of the infamous Anzac beach-head on the Dardenelles peninsula was ravaged by fire in the summer of 1994. Great tracts of CWGC maintained ground and several burial sites were scorched, their plants burnt and the trees destroyed. Over the past 18 months replanting has caused something of a minor political storm, arousing considerable debate about the commission's authority and its role within a National Park. Planting has become not just a horticultural issue but a delicate political game requiring a complex understanding of protocol, precedent and above all, a need to appreciate and articulate the historic and symbolic value of trees on a former static battlefield.

The Tree as Battlefield Landmark
On any battle zone trees en masse can present considerable problems at both a strategic and tactical level. In 17th century France the great rides cut as allees through the dense forests of the Versailles hinterland where designed as much for rapid deployment of troops as much as for aiding the hunt. In more recent wars dense plantations and forests have given a false impression of impenetrability: at the Ardennes in 1940, on the Singapore peninsula in 1942 and more recently in Vietnam, commanders have relied on the density of trees to act as a protective barrier only to be undone by bold penetrative strikes by the enemy. On many battlefields trees provide natural, often complete, cover from retinal observation; on especially flat battle landscapes trees can offer a quite unique vantage point to a terrestial army.

One place where the tactical and strategic value of trees played a crucial part in the course of the conflict was on the flattened battlefields of northern France and Belgian Flanders during the prolonged siege warfare of 1915 - 1917. During this period woods, copses and even individual trees attained a symbolic and tactical function often out of all proportion to the size of a plantation or the height of an individual tree. In addition, an awareness of the appalling damage being done to the natural order began to turn attention to trees. One memoirist speaks for many when he writes:
    'I never lost this tree sense: to me half the war is a memory of trees; fallen and tortured trees; trees untouched in summer moonlight, torn and shattered winter trees, trees green and brown, grey and white, living and dead. They gave their names to roads and trenches, strong points and areas. Beneath their branches I found the best and the worst of war.'(5)
There was, though, a real downside to this relationship: trees were often the harbingers of doom. Combatants soon learned that a single isolated tree could become a registration point for enemy artillery. A tendency to collect around isolated trees was often a mistake, as one frontsoldier learned to his peril:
    'The 'Lone Tree' was the assembly point for the wounded, and all around on the grass there were dozens of wounded on stretchers waiting to be taken down by the ambulance column. This tree was a favourite for the German artillery and I I could never understand why the wounded, transport, cookers and ambulances were allowed to congregate in this area. Apparently, somebody later recognised the danger and the tree was felled.'(6)
Trees became such crucial reference points on the flattened terrain of Picardy and Flanders that engineers frequently cut down and re-located distinctive trees in order to frustrate German gunners who might be using the tree for registration; camouflage officers soon designed hollowed-out, dummy trees lined with steel and faced with bark to act as observation posts. (7)

In this way single, identifiable trees earned a notoriety that would last long after the war, becoming a recurrent motif in war memoirs and eventually becoming highlights on any battlefield pilgrimage.

This phenomenon was also true of the woods and copses on particular stretches of the Western Front in Picardy. Possibly the most infamous collection of small woods was to be found on the Somme battlefield. The woods of Mametz, Trones, Longueval, and Delville had been transformed into fortress strongholds by the German defenders and fought over ferociously during the later summer of 1916. Their names have become synonymous with all that was terrible about trench warfare - 'a poor miserable mess of splinters and gashed soil'(8) The battles for these woods reduced them to little more than burnt stumps and bare shredded poles, in many instances any trace of the wood vanished completely. Nevertheless, the regenerative power of nature has proved quite remarkable. After the war many of the woods, even some hedges and rows of trees, have grown to their original positions. On other parts of the battlezone woods and forests have been heavily replanted, though usually within pre-war perimeters. On battlefields so brutally pulverised by artillery and chemicals, horticulturalists have sought to cover the still-cratered surface with hardy foliage. After 20 years of trial and error on the old Verdun battlefield, the French authorities, in the 1930s, had to resort to blanket plantations of fir trees to coat the pestiferous pock- marked slopes of the Mort Homme and other deadly hills - a task more demanding than planting on any industrial slag-heap or noxious waste ground.(9)

On other theatres of war Allied troops began to ascribe a symbolic function to certain trees. The Lone Pine Plateau above the Anzac beach-head was first known, rather anonymously, as 400 plateau. The pine in question was a single stunted specimen, all that remained of a wooded area chopped down by the Turkish troops for charcoal and for timber to line their dug-outs. In the scrub-covered environment it became a natural landmark. And although the Turks felled the tree several days before an Australian offensive the name remained and was applied to the whole of the southern lobe of the plateau.(10) As with other trees and copses on the peninsula the pine assumed an important symbolic role, later to be enriched by the commemorative rituals of the post-war period.

'Some corner...' - Commemoration
The pattern of official commemoration of the dead was dictated very early in the course of the war when, first, the war registration commission and, in 1917, the Imperial War Graves Commission (under the redoubtable Fabian Ware) took responsibility for gathering the dead, registering burials and photographing graves on every battlefront. As early as 1915, at the ouset of this massive and exhausting task, it was recognised that a basic horticultural effort could make the battlefield cemeteries 'less miserable and unsightly'. Ware's men, with the help of French gardeners, began planting grass and simple flower borders.(11) During the war such cemeteries had become important places for contemplation and privacy, and after the war, following the momentous decision not to exhume and repatriate the bodies of servicemen, the cemeteries began to assume the air of intimate, if somewhat formalised, funeral gardens. By the mid 1920s this became official policy as the ambitious architectural and memorial building programme was complimented by planting schemes designed to evoke the English garden. Paramount within this scheme was the lawn. In Longworth's fascinating account of the CWGC global scheme the commission's gardeners seem to have become fixated with creating a neat, carefully manicured and pristine turf - an incontrovertible symbol of a successful English garden.

The other extraordinary ambition (and achievement) of the commission was to overcome climactic and natural obstacles in pursuit of this ideal. On the deserts of Iraq and Libya, on the crumbling slopes of Turkey and the sodden clay of Flanders, the commission gardeners established new drainage systems, grew windbreaks, overcame the deficiencies of local stone, dealt with the truculence and religious differences of local populations, nurtured trees and plants in hostile climates and achieved all this within the confines of the public purse. But the commission's planners and gardeners had also to satisfy two further, highly significant, conditions: patriotic sentiment and religious belief. In 1915 a scheme had been founded to plant home grown maple seeds on Canadian graves; that same year the Australian plant wattle had been planted on graves in Gallipoli. Similarly, cuttings of olearia and Veronica traversii were bought across from New Zealand. In cemeteries with Chinese or Indian graves the commission had to ensure that only plants considered sacred and appropriate for commemoration were planted. Indians regarded iris, marigolds and cypresses as suitable. In France and Belgium, gardeners attempted where possible to plant flowers and shrubs of especial relevance to Dominion soldiers, in the event only West Indian and African plants would not flourish. Elsewhere the commission undertook a wholesale planting scheme in which roses (of the dwarf polyantha type) played a major part and were complimented by pinks, saxifrages and other border flowers.

By 1927, just eight years after the end of hostilities, the commission had established more than 500 cemeteries on the Western Front, erected 400,000 headstones, planted sixty-three miles of hedges and sown 540 acres with grass. The result of these neat ranks of pure white stones, the prim box and beech hedgerows, trimmed lawns and colourful plant beds was to create what one renowned guide described, quite tellingly, as 'the moral advantage of these almost English gardens'.(12)

Pine and Shrine
In the 31 cemeteries on the Gallipoli battlefield the moral imperative had to be balanced against harsh local conditions of soil type, shade and rainfall. The architect in charge of cemetery construction, Sir John Burnet, bemoaned the insecure ground, poor drainage and the propensity of the impoverished locals to remove stone and metal intended for the commission. There were also calls from Australian and New Zealand ex-servicemen to designate the entire Anzac area consecrated ground - a lobby that, while unsuccessful at the time, would later lay the foundation for territory disputes that have become inflamed since the Turks agreed the Treaty of Lausanne in 1923.(13)

On the peninsula, the solutions to the many problems have proved longlasting and graceful. High perimeter walls and deep, stone-lined ha-has have protected the lawns from animals and ensured adequate drainage. The large stone screen wall (which bears the Cross of Sacrifice in relief, instead of it being free-standing as in Christian countries) is invariably backed by a screen of pine trees (pinus Maritimum) which serves as a dark backdrop to set off the white stone. Tamarisk has been planted just beyond the retaining walls to help bind the soil.

Despite the wishes of the Australian authorities much of the planting has had to be of indigenous flowers and shrubs.(14) Efforts to acclimatise over a hundred types of eucalyptus were unsuccessful, though in time a robust strain was grown on the lower slopes at Anzac. Elsewhere, at Skew Bridge cemetery near Alcitepe, for example, Judas trees, oleandor and other local flowering shrubs take pride of place alongside more familiar bedding plants and flowers among which are rosemary, dianthus, irises, petunias and violas. Nearly all of the larger trees and shrubs in Turkey have to be local - cypress trees are plentiful, as are the remarkably coloured strawberry trees (arbutos inedo and arbutos andrachne).

What is especially striking on stretches of the barren, scrubby peninsula is the formality of the cemetery layout. While this is also true in the larger concentration cemeteries on the Western Front it seems to have been taken to an extreme in Turkey. Twelve Tree Cemetery for example, stands a little distance south of the site of the original stand of pines. These trees were used for observation posts by the British artillery in 1915 but were destroyed in the battles for the heights of Achi Babar. After the war the trees were re-sited within the perimeter of the eponymous cemetery, but not in an informal way. They became an integral element in the architectural plan planted in two rows either side of an imaginary line down the centre of the garden. Fieldwork carried out in the spring of 1995 shows that this is largely typical of the planting schema on Gallipoli: cypresses are invariably planted either side of the main screen wall, tightly clipped rosemary bushes are arranged in symmetrical lines down the central aisle, strawberry trees are planted in pairs each side of the entrance gate. As a planting concept it is not unnecessarily obtrusive, but it is a curious denial of the informality and irregularity of the Picturesque aesthetic that is typical of so much garden planting in England. Conversations and interviews with CWGC officials and Turkish gardeners suggest that the formality of so many of these graveyards is largely inherited and is not necessarily that favoured by the new generation of planners.

The one fascinating element of dissent in this strict planting regime is the part played by individual trees that have been planted for personal and historic reasons in the face of the formal scheme. On the Dardenelles two trees in particular make this point. The first is the English oak planted, in 1922, by the father of 2nd Lt. Eric Duckworth of the Lancashire Fusiliers who died in August 1915. He travelled from Dunsterville near Rochdale to plant an oak sapling in Redoubt cemetery, near Cape Helles. Against all odds the tree survived and thrives, standing to the right of the entrance gate it upsets the harsh symmetry of the formal planting and is reputedly the only English oak on the peninsula.

The other example is the single pine that dominates the cemetery of the same name on the plateau above Anzac. As we have seen, the tree was an important tactical landmark which lent its name to a place, a campaign and a series of events during the Allied landings of 1915. After the war Australians clearing the old battlefield found the stump of the felled dwarf pine in a Turkish trench. A number of seeds were retrieved and sent to Australia where they were planted in the grounds of the National War Memorial in Canberra. One tree grew and flourished, bearing seeds that were replanted at other locations in Australia and, in a neat reversal of the story, were returned to Gallipoli and planted at the presumed location of the original tree. An imposing pine now dominates the exposed lawns at the eastern end of Lone Pine cemetery.

More recently, other seeds and saplings have been planted within the vicinity. Veteran institutions such as the Returned Servicemen's League of Australia and New Zealand have now turned a quixotic act into a important sentimental and patriotic campaign. A campaign that, as we shall see, has been given real impetus by the recent scrub fire.

On the Western Front commemorative tree planting has also played a part in reinforcing, and occasionally subverting, the self-conscious symmetry of many war cemeteries. It was often the case that the distant dominion countries - notably Canada and Australia - took a lead in planting for symbolic reasons. The Canadian government, for example, accepted as a gift from the French people a vast tract of the battlefield on Vimy Ridge. In the decades after the war it was painstakingly transformed into the Vimy Memorial Park, 240 acres of pock-marked ground strewn with preserved tunnels, trench systems, cemeteries and a major war memorial. Here, as at other points on the Western Front the Canadians have invested considerable financial and emotional energy in commemorating their part in the conflict and everywhere the maple leaf, national symbol of Canada, plays a major role. South of Hooge on the Ypres Salient the Canadians constructed a new road, lined with these trees. Called Canadalaan, or Maple Avenue, it leads to the imposing Canadian Memorial on Mount Sorrell (also known in 1915 as Hill 62). Several kilometres north, at Westhoek, a single maple tree has been used in the memorial to Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry. It takes the rather uncomfortable form of a circular stone seat built around a maple tree that had been bought over from Canada and planted in 1958. As recently as 1994 the Canadians were still drawing on the symbolic power of the leaf in the modernist water fountain in London's Green Park designed to commemorate the Canadian dead from two world wars. In this remarkable piece several dozen leaves have been cast in bronze and set into broad slabs of black marble to be washed over by an incessant tide of water - reminiscent perhaps of the bodies of Canadians killed on the beaches Dieppe or Normandy, or drowned in the glutinous mud of Flanders.

Individual, preserved trees on the old battlefield are equally as evocative. One such tree is fossilised as a relic on the Newfoundland Memorial Park, near Beaumont Hamel on the Somme battlefield, an 80 acre tract of land on which the opposing trench lines have been maintained. Half way across the green space of No man's Land is 'The Danger Tree' or 'Tree of Death' - a landmark that marked the furthest advance of the Newfoundland troops on 1st July 1916. It is possibly as well known now as it was on the original battleground. The symbolic value of the tree as a marker point is more important than its survival as a plant : the tree is long dead, a petrified stalk held in position in a barrel of cement, but a popular and important icon on battlefield tours.(15)

Further south, near the South African museum at Delville Wood guidebooks draw ones attention to another tree - a hornbeam that is reckoned to be the only tree in the whole wood to have survived the battles of 1916. The tree has become an important staging post, another shrine for the battlefield pilgrim. Unlike its counterpart in the Newfoundland Park, the hornbeam has thrived and 'despite its shrapnel-filled trunk, is carefully tended by the CWGC'. (16) As at Gallipoli considerable value is given to trees derived from home-grown seeds. The new South African museum and war memorial at Delville Wood on the Somme is announced by two double lines of oaks grown with great care from acorns bought across from French Hook on Cape Colony, South Africa.

The value of such trees to the memorial process is crucial: individual trees offset the strict regime of many military cemeteries and add an idiosyncratic, personalised contribution in an otherwise highly charged rhetorical environment.. They have also allowed relatives of the dead an individual, sometimes dissenting, voice in the face of official policy. (17) Furthermore, aboreal intervention seems to have allowed the Dominion countries a continuing role on the European battlefields of the Great War, one that is not rendered static having been turned to stone and bronze, but is instead constantly evolving and transforming itself through plant growth. Australia and South Africa have constantly been re-defining their relationship with the Mother Country, and more recently New Zealand has been re-assessing its standing with Europe. Trees and shrubs that serve as commemorative icons may be one expression, in metaphorical guise, of the evolving dialogue with their imperial past and the debt in human lives spent perpetuating that relationship.

The Politics of Planting
On the evening of July 25th 1994 a fire, on a front some 2 kilometres wide and nearly 8 kms deep, swept across the former Anzac battlefield on the Dardenelles. It consumed the forested peak of Chunuk Bair, scorching the stone obelisk built as a memorial to the New Zealand stand on that hill, and the next day swept north burning the scrubland and almost devoured the CWGC compound at the beach-head. The regional officer recalled that, as the fire traversed the old battlefield, it ignited buried grenades and small arms ammunition adding to the apocalyptic scene. (18)

When the flames were eventually extinguished over 4000 hectares had been damaged, most of it within the boundaries of the Milli National Park in which the majority of the CWGC land is located. The destruction had been quite erratic: large stretches of ornamental shrubbery at The Nek had not burnt, and the statuesque pine at Lone Pine Cemetery had survived after strenuous efforts by CWGC staff. Within weeks of the fire the Turkish local authorities - in the first of several controversial moves - hired an army of migrant, unskilled workers to clear the area. Although much of the burnt wood may have recovered and sprouted in time, these workeds hacked every twig down, cutting their way indiscriminately across the hillsides lopping off the living with the dead, chopping down mature trees and even prized specimens such as sandalwood and eucalyptus.

To have cleared such a vast area in so short a time was an extraordinary achievement but it now seems that the Turkish authorities had other motives. 1995 marked the 80th anniversary of the Landings in Gallipoli, a large contingent of the world's press and media would be there to mark the occasion. It must also be remembered that the Defence of Gallipoli was a victory for the Turkish army - their single triumph in five seperate campaigns - and 1995 has to be regarded as an important anniversary in their history. The need to remember this period of military achievement is a fairly recent phenomenon in Turkish culture. In the past five years, after seven uneventful decades, the Turks began to install gigantic figurative statues at key points on the Gallipolean landscape. Like the CWGC monuments at Cape Helles and Anzac, the original wave of Turkish memorials built in the 1920s were fairly restrained objects, albeit highly modernist when compared with the neo-classical obelisks and screen walls that mark the Empire burial sites. The new generation of Turkish memorials are strident figures that depict soldiers charging with bayonets drawn, fending off attack, or helping wounded comrades. They are all made in bronze and mounted on imposing pedestals and they are all large. The largest and certainly the most bombastic is a 25 feet high figure of a soldier charging down the crest of a hill as if about to turn back the Christian invaders.

The patriotic symbolism does not stop at bronze statues. In March 1995 as the deadline for the 80th anniversary approached Turkish foresters and soldiers began adding the finishing touches to their battlefield. Already the charred slopes of Anzac had been systemmatically replanted but with shrubs and saplings that may prove to be totally unsuitable for the terrain and for the climate - row after row of poplars, cypresses and large trees have been planted instead of the thick, low scrub that previously existed. Furthermore they have been planted in long straight lines that ignore the natural topography of the land. Many of these plants have been positioned within the boundaries of the CWGC land and will soon have to be moved and returned to the authorities - a delicate task for the commission representative. The final touches were made by the Ministry of Forestry, aided by the local fire brigade, who began installing mature trees and large shrubs to act as a floral dressing for the statuary. The project, however well intentioned, will probably fail. Held up by guy ropes and regularly hosed down by the parks' fire engines the trees will have lasted until the actual anniversary day but not for much longer. Twenty year old cypresses cannot be transported and transplanted with such ease and be expected to survive in the Turkish climate.

The CWGC gardeners and officials, meanwhile, have managed to patch up the ravages of the fire. The lawns are green and neatly clipped; prompt intervention saved a number of trees from the indiscriminate chainsaws of the clearing gangs, including a screen of mature conifers that form a symbolic and decorative backdrop behind one of the key cemeteries on the plateau. Elsewhere a number of trees planted by the Returned Servicemen's League of Australia and New Zealand, though they survived the fire, fell to the cutting gangs. Such indiscretions cause a minor political furore, requiring considerable negotiating skills of the commission's regional officer, a job described as a fusion of 'horticulturalist, water-diviner, engineer and diplomat'.

The recent events in Turkey mark, perhaps, a new era in the culture of commemoration. With the great period of memorial building long past and the era of expensive and extensive repair now falling upon the CWGC, perhaps it will be through the metaphor of trees, shrubs and flowers that we can best remember the glorious dead. Perhaps also, in our increasingly secular era trees and shrubs will become the most appropriate icons of commemoration - inter-denominational and culturally hybrid. So much of the work of the commission is based upon the precept of land given 'in perpetuity' to be maintained within a given notion of Englishness. This notion has been tested to breaking point in recent years though it has not yet threatened the commission's sense of mission.

The idea that trees could offer the most suitable form of war memorial is not new. In 1916 a serving British officer suggested that the most appropriate way to commemorate the war dead was to plant one long avenue stretching from the Vosges to the sea. It would be a self-perpetuating monument shorn of bombast and the rhetoric of stone and bronze. 'It would', he wrote from the front 'make a fine broad road on the 'No Man's Land between the lines, with paths for pilgrim's on foot, and plant trees for shade, and fruit trees so that the soil should not be altogether waste'.(19) But this vision of a Via Sacra was not to be. The idea, with its creator, perished in the trenches.

1 Llewellyn, Nigel (1991) The Art of Death, London, Reaktion Books, p.99

2 Northrop Frye (1957) Anatomy of Criticism, Princeton, New Jersey, cited in Paul Fussell (1975) The Great War and Modern Memory, Oxford, Oxford University Press, p.244.

3 Middlebrook, Martin and Mary (1991) The Somme Battlefields, London, Viking, p.18

4 CWGC Annual report 1993-94, p.29

5 Richard Talbot Kelly (1980) A Subaltern's Odyssey: A Memoir of the Great War, London, William Kimber, p.45

6 A Stuart Dolden (1980) Cannon Fodder, Dorset Blandford Press, p.39

7 See Solomon J. Solomon (1921) Strategic Camouflage, London and Guy Hartcup (1979) Camouflage: A History of Concealment and Deception in War, Devon, David and Charles, Devon.

8 Keith Henderson (1917) Letters to Helen, February 3 1917, p.99

9 Alistair Horne (1962) The Price of Glory, London, Macmillan, p.351

10 Taylor, P and Cupper, P, (1989) Gallipoli: A Battlefield Guide, Sidney, Kangaroo Press, p.177

11Philip Longworth (1967) The Unending Vigil, London, Leo Cooper, p.15

12 Rose Coombes (1976) Before Endeavour Fades, London, p.152

13 Longworth (1967) op.cit., p.113

14 Much of the layout at Gallipoli is in keeping with the stated wishes of the Australian government. In 1919 the second report on the future of graves on the peninsula suggested that:
    " ... all Anzac graves should be retained in their present positions namely: (1) all cemeteries remain on their present sites strongly, fenced with slavaged material, the paths made up and the cemeteries planted with small australian trees, not altering the appearance of the battlefield. " Bean, Appendix V, Gallipoli Mission, 1948/1990, p. 379-384.)
15 Coombs (1976) op.cit., p.85

16 ibid, p. 96

17 The insistence of a headstone instead of a cross, the principle of uniformity and a ban on repatriation of bodies aroused much public anger after the war instigating a powerful anti-IWGC lobby, culminating in a fierce debate in the House of Commons (4th May 1920). The issue is dealt with in detail in Longworth (1967) p. 44-55

18 See John Price, "Duty under Fire" The Gallipolian, No.76, winter 1994

19 Alexander Douglas Gillespie (1916) 'The Sacred Way', Letters from Flanders, London, Smith, Elder and Co.

Note on the Fieldwork
The fieldwork and research for this paper was carried out in Turkey during March 1995. The CWGC staff and gardeners were able to guide me to points of particular importance, especially the places where commemorative trees had been chopped down, but much of the groundwork was done by exploration and following battlefield maps and guidebooks. Research on the western front, in Belgium and France, has been undertaken during many visits in the past 10 years.

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