News

Restoration of Amersfoort (Oud Leusden) General Cemetery

16 May 2012

A year-long project to restore and renovate a war graves plot in a cemetery in the Netherlands has been completed ahead of  schedule, thanks to the hard work of staff in the Commission's Northern Europe Area.

The main problem in the Amersfoort (Oud Leusden) General Cemetery was the trees - precious in the Netherlands, and usually the subject of preservation orders.

Over the years they had grown to a size that made them a risk to the graves. The roots were moving the headstones and disrupting the beams in which the headstones were set. The headstones were becoming dirty and it was impossible to grow anything under the leaf canopies.

After the necessary discussions with the Dutch authorities - which were protracted because of the tree preservation issues - the work could begin. 

During the course of the project 325 cubic metres of earth - weighing 246 tonnes - was moved out, and 240 tonnes moved in to replace it. 1300 square metres of turf was laid. The cemetery is in a woodland area so rabbits are a big problem. 300 metres of rabbit-proof cages were used to protect the new plants, and 1000 heathers - which the rabbits don't like! - were planted.

The headstones were all taken out and - once the contractors had removed the trees, and the concrete beams had been replaced - they were all put back again according to the minutely-detailed cemetery plan.

The Commission's Horticulture Manager in Northern Europe, Chris Griffiths-Hardman, said the work was completed two weeks ahead of schedule because of hard work and great cooperation between the gardening team and the works team.

"The Horticulture Supervisor Scott Cumming and the Works Supervisor Tony Edwards made sure this was a properly cross-discipline project. We're delighted with the way it went."  

Have a look at the album of before-and-after photographs (on our Facebook page).

The Amersfoort (Oud Leusden) contains the graves of 216 Second World War airmen, from the RAF, the RAF Volunteer Reserve, the Royal Australian Air Force, the Royal Canadian Air Force and the Royal New Zealand Air Force. Many were killed when their aircraft were shot down on their way to or back from bombing raids over Germany.