I received a reply from the American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) about the impact of the decision of the ABMC’s UK equivalent, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC), showing an open-air movie presentation of “Carve her name with Pride” the 1958 film account of the life of Violette Szabo, GC, who is one of four George Cross (GC) recipients commemorated or buried in Brookwood Military Cemetery.
In addition to Violette Szabo, GC, the Brookwood 1939-45 Memorial also commemorates Captain Jenkin Robert Oswald Thompson, GC.
The Canadian WWII section, which is on the opposite side of the road to the 1939-45 Memorial, contains the graves of two Canadian George Cross recipients: Corporal James Hendry, GC and Sergeant John Rennie, GC.
An account of the the GC awarded to Violette Szabo is contained within the article about all the agents awarded the GC. An account of the awards of the GC to Corporal Hendry, Sergeant Rennie and Captain Thompson are contained in my article about Brookwood Military Cemetery.
It seems that some people think that showing a feature film in a military cemetery is acceptable. I do not! The sound will travel throughout parts of the large cemetery. Some people also seem to think that the playing of music during ceremonies conducted in military cemeteries somehow excuses the sound produced from the feature film.
These same people also think having an open-air feature film presentation will play a part in ensuring that the sacrifice made by the people commemorated or buried in CWGC cemeteries around the world will not be forgotten. I feel that there are far better and more respectful ways to ensure this such as the recently held open-day at Brookwood Military Cemetery, the Poppy Display currently at the Plymouth Naval Memorial, more updates about the superb work done by the CWGC staff in various locations around the world and fund-raising events that could easily be held at numerous places such as the Imperial War Museum, British Film Institute, one of the national service museums or in one of the many excellent local museums around the country.
I am well aware of the ongoing task that the CWGC and its charitable arm (CWGC Foundation) needs to perform, with new generations of people becoming ever more distant from the events of both world wars; I myself was born 20 years after WWII ended. The CWGC also commemorates two of my family members: a Great-Uncle (buried in Baghdad North Gate Cemetery) and a Great-Great-Uncle (commemorated on the Menin Gate Memorial).
I just feel that there are better and more dignified way of raising funds for the CWGC Foundation.
The reply from the ABMC is reproduced in full below:
Thank you for contacting the American Battel Monuments Commission (ABMC). We are aware of the event sponsored by the Commonwealth War Graves Foundation (CWGF) and we appreciate your concern for the possible impact of the event on Brookwood American Cemetery. Both ABMC and the CWGF have a similar mission – to preserve the memory of those we honor while commemorating their service and sacrifice. The open-air screening of “Carve Her Name With Pride” is an effort to support that mission. Thank you.