Jump to content


Remembered Today:

Photo

John Condon


159 replies to this topic

#51 John Morcombe

John Morcombe

    Major

  • Old Sweats
  • 434 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Buckinghamshire
  • Interests:Royal Naval Division, RND Medals & Memorial Plaques, Norton Commando 850 Mcycles, Francis Barnett Mcycles.

Posted 06 February 2003 - 02:16 AM

It has been pointed out to me that readers of this debate have been left to the assumption that we took all of Aurelís research from his Condon file, went away and wrote the article. This is untrue.

Aurel originally contacted us on 13th August 2002 asking for help. For the following few weeks we engaged in email discussions about the case, and Neil met Aurel once in Belgium.

We carried out free research on his behalf re-examining and counting Condonís service sheets. Aurel was missing many sheets.

Things then went quiet until January of this year when we made further contact, asking if he wished to contribute to an article about Condon on our website, with or without credit, but he declined both.

Following this came more discussions of the case and an exchange of documents. Aurel supplied copies of the Burial Return, Birth Certificate & 1901 Census in exchange for copies of Condonís Death Certificate, Fitzsimmonsí medal index card and medal roll entry.

Both parties have benefited from each otherís research, us more from him. Therefore, it is unfair to say that we have just taken all Aurelís research and plagiarised it. We have undertaken our own investigations in this case.

John Morcombe
http://www.cwgc.co.uk

#52 Aurel Sercu

Aurel Sercu

    Major-General

  • Old Sweats
  • 3,591 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Boezinge-Ieper (Ypres), Flanders

Posted 06 February 2003 - 10:07 AM

I thought that what had been my objective on this Forum last Sunday had been accomplished (i.e. informing the readers of this Forum about what was the background of the John Condon publication on Mr Morcombe's and Mr. York's website).
So I had intended this morning to conclude this thread with a final message from my part. However, I feel compelled to give a reply to Mr Morcombe's preceding posting. I regret that I have to do this, but I will try to keep it brief and not go into details.

1. It is true that Mr Morcombe and Mr York did not take "all" my research. Only 99 percent, both in qualitative and quantitative terms.

2. It is true that they carried out research on my behalf. Everybody is entitled to carry out research.

3. It is true that I missed some sheets of the John Condon file, but not essential ones. The ones that I did not have then - but which I have now, and not from Mr Morecombe and Mr York - did not contain vital information.

4. It is also true that Mr Morecombe and Mr York sped up their own research after they learned, a month or so ago, that other parties (unknown to me)appeared to be interested in the John Condon affair, inquiring about his birth certificate at Waterford ; and learning this, must have feared that somehow their opportunity to have a brilliant scoop on their own website might be lost.

5. It is true that I have declined an offer to contribute to their article. I have already explained why.

6. It is true that at that time it was never said by Mr Morcombe and Mr York that it was their intention to make the research public behind my back, nor was a date set.

7. It is true that I gave essential information to Mr Morcombe and Mr York, trusting that they would not misuse it in any way. Having asked them to keep this confidential, there was not reason for me not to trust them. (Which obviously has been a very wrong conclusion.)

8. It is true that they too gave me information. This information was not essential and did not change anything about my conclusions, which I had already reached in September 2002. All that the documents they informed me about did, was : confirming my conclusions.

As their seem to be so many things that are "true" I think I can say there is a positive side in this discussion. I would like to end with a final question to Mr Morcombe and Mr York about the essence of the matter.

Is it true that, though indeed you have done 'further research', the key elements, i.e. the discovery of the mistakes about John Condon's burial place at Poelcapelle and his age, together with so many things related to this, was made by me, and given to you, and that with you making it public, my work has been plagiarised. And also : is it true that certainly for the past month it has been your secret plan to come out with the research, contrary to our non-written agreement, and without informing me (as Mr York has already admitted in an email to me, quoted in a preceding posting).

I could ask more of these 'Is it true' questions, e.g. related to the duty to inform the Condon family and the family of the other fallen soldier, but I will confine myself to this double fundamental question.

I do not see how Mr Morcombe and Mr York could possibly give a negative answer. If they do, then we have a totally different concept of what "truth" stands for. Which would imply that no further discussion is possible.

Aurel Sercu

#53 Greenwoodman

Greenwoodman

    Brigadier-General

  • Old Sweats
  • 2,276 posts

Posted 06 February 2003 - 10:42 AM

The idea has certainly been plagiarised, the intellectual property of Mr Sercu has been plagiarised.

Mr Morcombe admits that they benefitted more from Mr Sercu's research then he did from theirs. No-one argues about the validity of what is in the plagiarised article.

I think what sticks in my craw is the underhand, dishonourable way in which it was done. And the pathetic excuses which have accompanied it - "British visitors continued to be duped" - I've stood in front of Condon's grave and honoured his memory - it matters not to me now that it is not Condon, I have honoured the memory of someone who gave his life for his country.
And "we think it unlikely that a Catholic family would be pleased to advertise that their kin fought for the British." I very much doubt they would, but I'm sure that they would have appreciated a private approach much more than the story being spread over the internet, with someone else advertising that fact for them, and perhaps laying them open to abuse and worse from their community.
And "contact with the relatives of John Condon, what Aurel hasn't said is that their attitude was apparently, aggressively anti".
Condon's family may be anti, and why not? But a sympathetic approach and a diplomatic statement that others were researching on the same lines would surely have persuaded them to act in support.
Publication without reference to either set of relatives is reprehensible to say the very least.

And I disagree with Mr Tallet about two groups of decent people being involved here. Many members of this forum have taken the time to support Mr Sercu, and to declare him decent. The lack of basic standards laid out above are not decent.

And this is not the party line - its one person's perception of the principles (or lack of them) employed here.

#54 Deleted_Duke_*

Deleted_Duke_*
  • Guests

Posted 06 February 2003 - 01:09 PM

Dear Members ,

I would wish to add my support for Aurel, I have known him for over two years both as a friend and in a professional capacity concerning research.

I have only the highest regard for his compassion, knowledge , sincerity and honesty.

i was dismayed to read about what may be a breach of trust and I would not like to open wounds, but anyone who has met Aurel has only the highest regard for him and his work.

Keep smiling Aurel you are well appreciated.

Sincerely,

Martin Maynard

#55 Deleted_KyleTallett_*

Deleted_KyleTallett_*
  • Guests

Posted 06 February 2003 - 01:35 PM

The debate of mens characters and conduct goes on. Personally i have an interest in the content. I would love to see this written up in Stand to or Bulletin to reach a wider audience. So Aurel don't shelve the work, write it up.
My own concern howver is as follows. In virtually every book on Ypres, a photo of the grave appears, its swamped by crosses it is a high profile emotive subject. IF AN ARTICLE THAT QUESTIONED THIS ICON WAS SUBMITTED TO STAND TO, WOULD IT HAVE BEEN PUBLISHED OR VETO'D???.
In my paid employment, on of my tasks is to perform forensic tasks, often to establish identity. The highest ideal is to restore the identity of an unknown man. There are many mistaken identifications out here, off hand i can think of at least six barn door cases. Sadly restoring one identity removes another.
Myself back to the subject, i would love to see an intelectual article on this subject in one of the journals. I would like to ask both parties of this wrangle, was the research ever intended to go to a respected journal or was it for cyberspace only.[B]

#56 Deleted_smartie_*

Deleted_smartie_*
  • Guests

Posted 06 February 2003 - 01:47 PM

Hello to everyone on this website topic,

I have read the attatched information and research and find that I am saddened by what I have read. The topic of the Great War has and always will be a part of my life through avid interests and tours to the battlefields over many years.
I ws fortunate to meet Aurel and the rest of his colleagues the Diggers some two years ago. What I found in Aurel was a man of the highest integrity, who was considerate to others and totally commited to his work to finding out only the EXACT truth behind a discovery that he has made.
I was priveliged to meet him and to discuss issues on the Great War with him on numerous visits to Belgium. What I found from these visits was a person that knew his subject inside out and who took time to research information with close scrutiny.
The Great War shaped the 20th century and the world in which we live today, Aurel has shaped the understanding that I have in the Great War and for many others im sure! Therefore it saddens me to hear that he has been made to look ordinary in his research, which is not the case.
I am not one to slander others as this is not my way of dealing with issues, I would however challenge anyone that has viewed the recent programme "Forgotten Battlefield" on UK TV to state that he is a man with little facts.
I have a close understanding of the work Aurel achieves and Im sure that he has been hurt by what has been published from the outset, for many a man this would make them finish and disassociate from their studies i'm sure, although for a strong charachter like Aurel this will only make him more determined to achieve the end result, with findings that are facts and not just supperstition that some would have us believe.
Where this forum will go from here remains to be seen, i feel sure there will be those that will add to it and comment on how they feel, as well as those that will make known their understandings. Whatever happens from now I would like to ask that Aurel, this man, this one true friend of mine be allowed to continue with his life and research in the best possible way without the need for him to be ridiculed in his work.
I for one, cannot praise this man enough for helping many people fortunate to meet him, enhance their understanding of this conflict, sometimes through paper information, and sometimes through being there in Belgium face to face with him. Never once has he turned me away when I have asked or wanted to meet up with him and has made it possible on every occassion to make me welcome and happy.
Please let us all be diplomatic in this debate and help this man to achieve his research.
I will always stand by this man for his integrity, understanding and support over the two years i have had the chance to meet him, if ever he needs my support and assistance he is more than welcome to it.
Finally, let us all remember, this man in his findings, has the person or persons concerned as well as any next of kin at heart when he releases anything concerning soldiers, we would all do well to remember that fact as well. Let their sacrifice not be forgotten and if we can help make their sacrifice more real to understand then I for one am all for that through Aurels research.
I hope that in the coming future we can learn to understand that the negative remarks made to Aurels research will pale into insignificance compared to the soldiers sacrifice in this conflict.
Aurel has taken so much time to research over the years and long may he continue to do so. True friends are hard to come by and when you make those friends they are for life.
My final thought is this " Those that mind, don't matter, those that matter don't mind"

From an upset reader to the forum

Martin Smith - UK

#57 paul guthrie

paul guthrie

    Major-General

  • Old Sweats
  • 3,733 posts

Posted 06 February 2003 - 01:50 PM

Well I can answer one question, Stand To! editor Ann Clayton has agreed to publish Aurel's article in the September issue! All of you who have submitted to ST! know the wait can usually be as much as two years. This tells us much about the respect Aurel has, the importance of the subject and perhaps a desire to help right the wrong so well described by Greenwoodman.

#58 Myrtle

Myrtle

    Brigadier-General

  • Old Sweats
  • 2,896 posts
  • Gender:Not Telling

Posted 06 February 2003 - 02:38 PM

Excellent News, Paul. I hope that Aurel Sercu publishes his research and conclusion in Stand To !

Myrtle

#59 Deleted_KyleTallett_*

Deleted_KyleTallett_*
  • Guests

Posted 06 February 2003 - 02:57 PM

The ST article is good news. it shows that in the new climate of disclosure a sensitive subject can be examined and not buried.
This story will now reach a world wide circulation, a far greater audience than cyberspace. Many would already be aware of the suspect nature of the age 14 claim. It has been questioned for years, when the "C"s came out at the PRO the truth was out. That part of the story was not new, the evidence of the burial returns is new.
Seeing all the evidence presented without any spin would be helpful, in which for one family will be a public tragedy- the loss of a known grave, and for another the Fitzsimmons, the end of a 88 year mystery.

#60 paul guthrie

paul guthrie

    Major-General

  • Old Sweats
  • 3,733 posts

Posted 06 February 2003 - 05:54 PM

A little birdie tells me there is a very good chance September Stand To! will have an article by Aurel! Let's hope so!

#61 Paul Garlington

Paul Garlington

    Lance-Corporal

  • Members2
  • 11 posts

Posted 06 February 2003 - 08:02 PM

I am looking forward to the article myself: this is surely the best outcome and will help to lay the matter to rest. More importantly, Aurel is bound to win the plaudits he so richly deserves.

#62 Aurel Sercu

Aurel Sercu

    Major-General

  • Old Sweats
  • 3,591 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Boezinge-Ieper (Ypres), Flanders

Posted 07 February 2003 - 09:27 AM

This message will be very brief.

I had never thought when I started this John Condon topic last Sunday, that the response would be so overwhelming. I must say I am deeply moved by the friendship I have felt in so many replies. I have tried to reply to some of them in a personal email off Forum, and I will continue this. Thanks to all. I appreciate all this support more than I can say.

Some questions have been asked in preceding replies that I have not answered yet. I will try to reply to them in a personal email contact too.

I had decided to put away my John Condon file for ever, as it was dated and useless now. Many Forum members have urged me to reconsider this. Whether I will do that, I have not decided yet. Let me point out that there may be reasons to hesitate and even not to come out with them. One of them is that I feel it my duty, before and if I come out with the results of my research (which have been made public elsewhere now, though in quite a different context and intonation), to hand them to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission in the first place. Let me add that with regard to this, that there is already a "gentlemen's agreement", and I intend to keep to it.

Again, thanks to all these people who have supported me, and who knows I may meet one day, at Boezinge or Ypres.

Aurel Sercu

#63 Patrick

Patrick

    Second Lieutenant

  • Old Sweats
  • 124 posts

Posted 07 February 2003 - 11:49 AM

Hello Aurel

Just stumbled late into this breaking news , from looking something up at the diggers site.
And after all this reading .I can only feel saddened by such practices , be comforted Aurel
By the support you get, this must be more important to you . You know you have mine .
And the insiders know the truth . So do not give up !

Regards
Patrick

Ps : on a positive side this post has broke the view records more than 2000 hits .
So the message came across Aurel. Cheer up !

#64 Somme1916

Somme1916

    Major

  • Old Sweats
  • 453 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Fort Knox USA

Posted 07 February 2003 - 06:54 PM

Dear All,

Firstly let me introduce myself. My name is Iain McHenry, a Royal Military Policeman stationed at SHAPE, Mons, Belgium. Since last arriving in Belgium last year I have had an ever-increasing interest with the First World War. I am kindly being allowed to write this piece on my friend's, Jon Hollandís computer, as I do not possess one. As many of you already know Jon, a US Army serviceman also shares my interest in the First World War.

I have had the pleasure of knowing Aurel since last August, and like many other people out there, have seen what excellent research and work this man does, with such a passion. We all know that certain subjects about the war open the proverbial " can of worms ". That is why some subjects, like the current John Condon discussion must be dealt with, sensibly, professionally and sensitively. You do NOT share your information with everyone until you have:

A: Exhausted all avenues of enquiry, and,
B: Gathered and studied all of your evidence

I feel that Mr. York has effectively " stabbed Aurel in the back " by no less than stealing his hard done research", mixing it with his own and then putting it onto the internet, only informing Aurel hours before it was put onto the net. I find Mr. Yorkís use of the Gentlemenís agreement quite disgusting. He has done nothing more than clearly betray the trust of a well-liked and well-respected gentleman. Our forefathers who fought in the wars here did not stab the Belgians in the back, so lets not start ourselves.

I will now hand over to Jon Holland.

Thanks Iain,

I echo the praise that Aurel has received on this site, as it is justly deserved. Even though Iíve only meet him a few times he has made a lasting impression on me. He is an unpaid professional that is truly worth emulating. This true gentleman has the drive and passion to put the memory and honor of foreign strangers of yesterday ahead of his own needs and wants. A selfless servant the honors and laurels he has attained are not sought but are freely given by we grateful few. Unfortunately the same can not be said for others.

At the end of the day those of us who research the Great War should be working together for the common goal, uncovering the past for the benefit of others. Professional jealousy and envy have done much to undermine and fragment the efforts of many a good person and group.

All the best to Aurel and those persons of honorable worth,
Jon Holland

#65 Deleted_hmm3012_*

Deleted_hmm3012_*
  • Guests

Posted 07 February 2003 - 10:28 PM

Hello,
I came to this forum via the diggers' site, don't know much about WWI, but want to learn. Well, I have read all of this forum and the article on campaigner's war graves site and noone seems to have noticed the difference between Aurel's age (nearly 18) and the site which states nearly 19.
HelenM

#66 Aurel Sercu

Aurel Sercu

    Major-General

  • Old Sweats
  • 3,591 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Boezinge-Ieper (Ypres), Flanders

Posted 07 February 2003 - 11:18 PM

Sorry, Helen, my mistake. I knew John Condon's birth certificate said 16 Oct 1896, and as he died 24 May 1915... Let's say that my emotions are responsible for this error and inaccuracy. Thanks for pointing it out to me.

Aurel Sercu

#67 john w.

john w.

    Brigadier-General

  • Old Sweats
  • 2,012 posts

Posted 07 February 2003 - 11:46 PM

Aurel

It seems that you have a great following and people respect you as an individual.

It would be a great shame to lose what you have painstakingly unearthed.

WW1 grows on you as you realise what people endured, perhaps we could learn from their example.

I am putting together a radio prog on those shot at dawn.. a new challenge for me but on that has 90 years head start on me!

I feel like a drop in the ocean here, so many people with dreams and questions...

Keep up the fight, they did

John

#68 Conor Dodd

Conor Dodd

    Lieut-Colonel

  • Old Sweats
  • 554 posts

Posted 08 February 2003 - 05:12 PM

Just to say that the last I heard (a few months ago) Waterford County Council had plans to put up a memorial to him due to the fact he was the youngest to be killed also Aurel out of interest have you contacted his family if not they have one photo of him and I hope you won't let it go after so long working on it. If you want I will send you details of how to contact the family by E-Mail.


Conor

#69 Aurel Sercu

Aurel Sercu

    Major-General

  • Old Sweats
  • 3,591 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Boezinge-Ieper (Ypres), Flanders

Posted 08 February 2003 - 06:35 PM

Hi Conor,

I will contact you about this in a personal email. Some delicate aspects ...

Aurel

#70 Conor Dodd

Conor Dodd

    Lieut-Colonel

  • Old Sweats
  • 554 posts

Posted 08 February 2003 - 08:06 PM

O.K. Aurel


Conor

#71 Tom Tulloch-Marshall

Tom Tulloch-Marshall

    Brigadier-General

  • Old Sweat
  • 2,810 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Surrey, UK
  • Interests:The Cemeteries and Memorials of The Imperial War Graves Commission.
    The graves of the Known, and the Unknown.
    Sir Fabian AG Ware's Immortal Heritage.

Posted 09 February 2003 - 01:04 PM

"He is an unpaid professional that is truly worth immolating."

Emulating, perhaps, but setting fire to Mr Sercu would appear to be completely unwarranted !

ohmy.gif

Tom

#72 John Morcombe

John Morcombe

    Major

  • Old Sweats
  • 434 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Buckinghamshire
  • Interests:Royal Naval Division, RND Medals & Memorial Plaques, Norton Commando 850 Mcycles, Francis Barnett Mcycles.

Posted 10 February 2003 - 11:59 AM

Dear Forum readers,

Due to concerns regarding copyright, the Campaign for War Graves Commemorations has removed the page pertaining to John Condon. The Campaign will continue to fight for the truth to be publicly recognised & is concerned only that the results are published, not by whom.

John Morcombe

Webmaster cwgc.co.uk

#73 Somme1916

Somme1916

    Major

  • Old Sweats
  • 453 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Fort Knox USA

Posted 10 February 2003 - 09:39 PM

Tom,

Thanks for catching that, I did mean emulating not immolating. You are correct Aurel would not be happy if I set fire to him.

Jon

#74 RoyEvans

RoyEvans

    Brigadier-General

  • Admin
  • 2,773 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:South Staffordshire
  • Interests:South Staffordshire Regiment in WW1

Posted 11 February 2003 - 08:37 AM

It is very sad that this situation has arisen. My own impressions of this excellent forum are that it is open and friendly and I much appreciate the input that contributors have freely given. I can fully understand Aurelís disappointment at having his research pre-empted in this way but am not prepared to judge without knowledge of the protagonists or the full facts.
My sincere hope is that this episode does not lead to people becoming increasingly secretive about their researches. Whilst it may be prudent to be more careful in picking oneís Ďfriendsí and confidants, lets keep the spirit of co-operation alive.

Roy

#75 Chris_Baker

Chris_Baker

    General

  • Old Sweat
  • 13,901 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Warwickshire UK

Posted 11 February 2003 - 02:49 PM

I am relieved to say that the forum had nothing whatever to do with the disagreement, but that I am very pleased that everyone chose to use it as the on-line place to air their differences.

Without having done so - and in my opinion it was brave of both sides to come 'on air' to lay out their case - the story of the research into Condon, and the various findings resulting would probably have gone largely unnoticed - at least until such time that it was published somewhere.

One of the many functions of such a forum is to provide a means of timely communication to a wide audience, and there is little doubt that this topic has come to the attention of hundreds of interested readers.