Yesterday was Remembrance Sunday, honouring and remembering those who gave their lives for us in the last two World Wars and countless other conflicts.
Today, Southwark continues its programme of forgetting its heroic dead.
Southwark Council is mounding over graves including at least six soldiers' Commonwealth War Graves in Camberwell Old Cemetery, where two acres of woods have been cleared to get at the graves (see photo).
Southwark's plan is to mound them over as 700 ‘new’ burial plots - as if no one was buried beneath.
Is this the respect we give those who made the ultimate sacrifice for us?
Many who gave their lives in battle are not buried in Commonwealth War Graves. Many others could not afford a private grave or a memorial.
Southwark Council is in the middle of the largest grave reuse and reclamation programme in British history, for the sake of burying people in the inner city.
All private graves in Camberwell Old and New Cemeteries over 75 years old are to be dug up and resold. But so-called ‘common’ or ‘paupers’ graves - the graves of the poor - are already being mounded over for resale.
Private William Stanlake (pictured) was awarded the Victoria Cross for his courage in the Crimean War (Victoria Cross online). When he died in 1904, Private Stanlake was buried in Camberwell Old Cemetery. His grave was only recently rediscovered and a new headstone put up in 2011.
As a Victoria Cross recipient, Stanlake's grave is probably safe. Luckily, it was rediscovered before Southwark got to this wooded area, which is also to be cleared and the graves beneath to be mounded over for ‘new’ burial plots.
But who knows how many other soldiers are buried in these cemeteries in marked or unmarked graves, and may or may not be rediscovered before they are destroyed?
“Southwark Councillors don’t care about our dead heroes. They only care about continuing burial inside the borough, no matter at what cost,” says Blanche Cameron of the Friends of Camberwell Cemeteries.
“There is burial space available right now that the Council could invest in and save the graves and woods and our heritage. They don’t need to mound over our war dead or anyone else for that matter. All those buried here should be alowed to Rest in Peace, whether rich or poor.”
Thousands of Southwark residents strongly object to Southwark Council's actions.
Many have relatives buried here and are calling for the Camberwell Cemeteries to be made Memorial Park Nature Reserves - to preserve and protect London's and the nation’s heritage in perpetuity.
www.SaveSouthwarkWoods.org.uk | [email protected] | @southwarkwoods | Facebook Page Save Southwark Woods
Above: Six soldiers lie here in Commonwealth War Graves amongst the 48,000 people about to be mounded over. Two acres of Grade 1 SINC woods that had grown up around them have been cleared for 700 'new' burial plots to be sold over our dead.
Below and right: Camberwell Old and New Cemetery have fine war memorials and many buried soldiers. Private William Stanlake pictured was awarded the Victoria Cross, the Crimean Medal and the Distinguished Conduct Medal for his courage in battle in the Crimean War.
He served in the Coldstream Guards from 1852-1863, died in Camberwell in 1904 and is buried in Camberwell Old Cemetery. (Grave photo: www.allatsea.co.za)