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/ War Grave Visit

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BoingBoing - on 05 Sep 2018

Some weeks ago an acquaintance of the mrs., knowing we were going to be in Malta, mentioned that his grandfather was buried in the Pieta War Cemetry and asked if we could have a look for the grave stone. He said he had never been there and doubted if he would ever get there.

We took the bus out of Valletta and found the cemetry. After a bit of searching we found the said grave stone. I took several photographs for him and got a sort of sense of fulfilment and a feeling thst we had helped the grandson achieve a wish.

I find war graves a very humbling experience.

John W - on 05 Sep 2018
In reply to BoingBoing:

I always find it best to wear very dark sunglasses and take a plentiful supply of handkerchiefs.

Post edited at 20:45
BoingBoing - on 05 Sep 2018
In reply to John W:

> I always find it best to wear very dark sunglasses and take a plentiful supply of handkerchiefs.


Indeed, especially when you see their ages. I think EVERY politician should be made to make regular visits to war graves and told in no u certain terms that this is the result when they mess things up.

elsewhere on 05 Sep 2018
In reply to BoingBoing:

Bloody well done for doing that.

For anybody looking for a photo this is worth a look.

https://www.twgpp.org

The original aim of The War Graves Photographic Project was to photograph every war grave, individual memorial, Ministry of Defence grave, and family memorial of serving military personnel from WWI to the present day. However, due to its popularity we have now extended our remit to cover all nationalities and military conflicts and make these available within a searchable database.

balmybaldwin - on 05 Sep 2018
In reply to BoingBoing:

We have 5 Canadian Air men buried in our local cemetery - presumably a bomber that didn't quite make it home. Every few months I sit and pay my respects, I often wonder if their families have seen how carefully the graves are tended all these years later.

Eric9Points - on 05 Sep 2018
In reply to elsewhere:

Thanks for the link.

I've got an unusual name. In fact in my whole life I've met no more than 3 other people outside my family with the same surname.

I typed my surname into the search function and got 37 results, mainly from Highland regiments, one New Zealander and some seamen.

I feel quite stunned by that.

Ex Poster 666 on 05 Sep 2018
In reply to BoingBoing:

> Indeed, especially when you see their ages.

Me Mam took me and my sister to Gallipoli on an organised trip to search for a relative of hers (ours!), which involved going round numerous graveyards, and it's one thing I noticed was the number of teenagers, just boys!

Our relative was just one of 100s of names on a memorial.

Welsh Kate - on 05 Sep 2018
In reply to Eric9Points:

Thanks for the idea. I too have a fairly unusual surname, and was surprised and shocked by the number of servicemen with my surname on that list.

In reply to BoingBoing:

I think my great granddad is buried there too. I didn't know this when I went climbing in Malta/Gozo a few years ago and would like to go back to visit it. My cousin visited a few years ago to honour a promise made to our grandmother of laying flowers on her dad's grave (she never got to visit before she died).

Post edited at 21:53
captain paranoia - on 05 Sep 2018
In reply to elsewhere:

What are the donations for? For hard copy, it's obvious. For digital photos: server space?

captain paranoia - on 05 Sep 2018
In reply to Welsh Kate:

My surname is unusual, too. 16 hits on the CWGC search for both world wars. One I already knew the details is a relative (would have been my great uncle). Two on the Somme.

https://www.cwgc.org/find/find-war-dead

Not quite as illustrious as my mate's would-have-been great great uncle VC and bar...

captain paranoia - on 05 Sep 2018
In reply to captain paranoia:

Someone didn't like my comment. I would prefer to see this project continue to be under the auspices of the CWGC, but it seems they parted company. Either that, or go for charitable status.

Yes, I'm a suspicious bugger, and asking for a set 'donation' has a bit of a whiff to me, considering the topic. I was hoping someone could put my mind at rest.

elsewhere on 05 Sep 2018
In reply to captain paranoia:

Can't remember where but you can get very full ww1 hand written records online for modest payment. It gave details of my grandad's enlistment, disciplinary record, postings, wound (gunshot on 13 November 1916 when his battalion took Beaucourt-sur-Ancre) & demob.

I just realised from https://www.cwgc.org/ you can even download spreadsheets of casualties with your surname including names & addresses of parents/spouse. 

On www.cwgc.org I can see the Normandy cemetery near Rauray where my dad's battalion fought. There is a grave inscription "THE HAPPY HOURS WE ONCE ENJOYED HOW SWEET THE MEMORY STILL. MOTHER" for a 21 year old in my dad's battalion.

6% of my dad's battalion is buried there, all but a handful killed on 27th June 1944. Presumably the worst day of his life but he never mentioned it.

Post edited at 00:07
captain paranoia - on 05 Sep 2018
In reply to elsewhere:

> There is a grave inscription

It's the inscriptions that get me. Here's one for a 20-yr-old from my 16:

"FORGET HIM NO WE NEVER WILL WE LOVED HIM HERE AND LOVE HIM STILL"

My relative is only a name on a panel, as he has no known grave; lost at Kohima.

Post edited at 23:56
Tom V - on 05 Sep 2018
In reply to BoingBoing:

My wife and a colleague produced a book about all the servicemen in our village who died in WW1. (138)

It involved us making two or three trips to Northern France to photograph as many of their graves as we could, my role being mainly driver.

But having visited thirty or forty war grave sites in the area, I am pleased in a way to find that it is something you do not get inured to.

bedspring on 06 Sep 2018
In reply to BoingBoing:

I visit War Graves. I have visited British ones in France, Netherlands, Belgium and the UK. Very dignified atmosphere, a remberance.

I have visited a US one in Normandy. Very triumphalist, a hug map showing how America won the war and at regular intervals martial music and presenting of flags to people, maybe the descendants of the dead. 

A German one at Langermark in Belgium, very interesting, very dark, with mass graves, 4000 per Grave IIRC. An odd tone really. They have a youth group who look after the graves.

I have never been to a WW2 German one yet, that could be interesting.

When ever I am out walking, if I see a Church Yard I will go in and seek out the WarGraves, they look like this https://goo.gl/images/JTz6f3 , and are easy to spot. Usually spend a minute or two thinking about them. It is also interesting to look at your local war memorial. My local one has has hundreds of names and then if you go in the Cemetery you can find some of the Graves and occasionally there is a grave next to them that actually gives the address they lived at. That makes it very personal, to know where this person lived.

Edit* 
In Whalley, Lancashire, there is the site of a huge ex Mental Hospital (or whatever they are called now, I am aware this changes), called Calderstones. Opposite there is a gate and a wall, which looks like a Cemetery. Odd thinks I and started to have a nosey. I walked through a large area of untidy ground with just the occasional stone flowerpot and bits and bobs, most odd, but as I moved forward at the back I could see something else. It was a full on British war cemetery with a 100+ graves and a cenotaph and everything. The Mental Hospital had been a Military Hospital at one time. 
However the untidy area piqued my interest, what was it. Well it was where Mental people are buried, or to my eyes discarded by society. The juxtaposition of how we valued our war dead with how we discard people of no value quite shocked me.
On a later walk I found nearby another Cemetery for another Mental Hospital, at Brockhall near Whalley. In it was a memorial put up by a property developer who had obviously found the Cemetery and like me was saddened. There is something about it here http://jeffjones1.magix.net/public/brockhall/brockhall.htm . I have not seen that website before but am about to read it. 
These two graveyards are well worth a visit .

Post edited at 08:21
TheDrunkenBakers - on 06 Sep 2018
In reply to balmybaldwin:

> We have 5 Canadian Air men buried in our local cemetery - presumably a bomber that didn't quite make it home. Every few months I sit and pay my respects, I often wonder if their families have seen how carefully the graves are tended all these years later.

I wonder, why not take photos and try to find the descendents to send them to. Perhaps they dont know of the graves and would be comforted in knowing where they are. Would the canadian foreign office help?

Post edited at 08:08
Jenny C on 06 Sep 2018
In reply to BoingBoing:

I founf the Dunkirk cemetery surprising as most of the men were older than I expected. Speaking to mum (her dad was sucesfully evacuated from there) as it was early in the war most of them were formerly home guard who volunteered as soon as the war started.

I was also surprised at the number of non-christian memorials, opens your eye to the fact that diversity isn't new to the UK.

elsewhere on 06 Sep 2018
In reply to bedspring:

> It is also interesting to look at your local war memorial.

Cwgc.org is amazing. If you type in a postcode you will find local cemeteries containing war graves here in the uk. In every urban area big enough to have a hospital the local cemeteries will contain hundreds of ww1 graves. I'd always thought the cwgc was overseas.

https://www.cwgc.org/find/find-nearby-cemeteries

Post edited at 08:17
DerwentDiluted - on 06 Sep 2018
In reply to BoingBoing:

Just back from 5 days on the Somme, though I did squeeze in a visit to the wonderfully weird  St Vaast Les Mello, had 3 days mountain biking round the battlefields, which is my other passion. Very poignant and visited several cemetaries, but the most moving was by a spoil heap by the site of a new wind turbine. Amongst the usual bits of war - live shells, shrapnel balls, shell splinters, barbed wire fragments, were several bones and a horses tooth. Most bones were clearly equine but some were undoubtably human. I put them in a field corner where hopefully they will be minimally disturbed in future, and offered a mumbled imploration for them to rest well.

jkarran - on 06 Sep 2018
In reply to captain paranoia:

> Yes, I'm a suspicious bugger, and asking for a set 'donation' has a bit of a whiff to me, considering the topic. I was hoping someone could put my mind at rest.

It's not in the same league as selling one size fits nobody poppy branded biffer fleeces.

The cost of taking, archiving and serving those photographs must be substantial, however it's done it's a gargantuan project involving a huge amount of human time and travel and care.

jk

balmybaldwin - on 06 Sep 2018
In reply to TheDrunkenBakers:

Well they aren't on that website above, so I thought I'd add them to that at the very least

elsewhere on 06 Sep 2018
In reply to balmybaldwin:

It would be a lot of work to trace their families, but if cwgc.org includes any names & addresses you could post the photos with the public cwgc details on appropriate facebook pages for that area in Canada. There's a chance somebody might recognise the names.

Post edited at 12:46
John W - on 06 Sep 2018
In reply to BoingBoing:

My German gf lives about 25km from Bergen Belsen, and every single time we drive past it, or even past a signpost to it, it sends a shiver down my spine. In the town where she lives, there’s a CWG with about 200 graves, and another one up the road in Becklingen with 2401. In the town itself, there are brass plaques in the pavement to mark the names and houses of the local Jews who were sent to the concentration camps (or simply executed). Many streets are also named for them, often with a little additional information about them on the street sign. Lest we forget.

BoingBoing - on 06 Sep 2018

Not only should every politician be made to visit a war grave but every "religious leader" be they Christian, muslim or whatever.

colinakmc - on 06 Sep 2018
In reply to bedspring:

In 1970 I worked for a while in an old fashioned psychiatric hospital as a nursing auxiliary and for part of that year I was placed in the long stay “sick ward”which provided care for folk with physical disabilities as well as psychiatric. As far as I can recall 3 of the 18 men there had been there since 1919 - 1920 or so having been admitted with shell shock. They were destined, I suppose, to live out their days there and quite possibly end up in the hospital cemetery. As a callow 18 year old I didn’t know how to deal with the heritage aspect but inremember thinking their lives had been ended by the war, just as surely as by a shell or a bullet.

garycrocker - on 06 Sep 2018
In reply to BoingBoing: I went with my parents to see my mother's grandfather's WW1 war grave at a church in northern France. His was the only grave there as he drowned during the construction of a bridge; he was an engineer and in his 50s. His grave was obviously well tended by the CWGC but what moved my mother and I to tears were the flowers, several bunches and quite fresh, which had been left on it, presumably by local people. 

 

dread-i - on 06 Sep 2018
In reply to BoingBoing:

A very interesting thread, especially as we're approaching the 100th anniversary of the end of the first world war.

Years ago, I occasionally had my lunch time chips whilst sitting at the war memorial in Padiham. I was always curious about the fact that Canadians were listed on there. This thread has inspired me do some research and this is what I found.

"Private Gilbert Yates, of the 2nd Manchester Regiment, whose home is at 3, Old Spring Gardens, Padiham, has died of wounds received in the fighting at Neuve Chapelle. He was one of five brothers serving at the front. Tom and James (twins) are with the Canadians and the King's Own Regiment respectively. Walter and William are both with the 2nd East Lancashire Regiment."

https://www.tapatalk.com/groups/warmemorials/memorial-park-t1642.html

It's a long list for a small town. Yet, every town and village in the country all have their own long lists. Very humbling.

 

teh_mark on 06 Sep 2018
In reply to bedspring:

> It is also interesting to look at your local war memorial.

I take a moment to pause, read and reflect at every war memorial I pass. In a society that seems ever increasingly disconnected from its past, I think it's the least I can do to remember the sacrifices others have made so that I can live the life I live.

Britain seems unique in that you can find a war memorial in virtually every settlement in the country, from the largest city down to the smallest village or hamlet. It really puts into perspective just how widely the effects of the Great War were felt, and how damaging it was to our country.

captain paranoia - on 06 Sep 2018
In reply to dread-i:

> It's a long list for a small town

The memorials in little country villages get me; not many names, but very often the same surnames. And I think what that meant for the families.

Ian W - on 06 Sep 2018
In reply to BoingBoing:

Because i speak German, my grandad gave me a couple of letters he found on the bodies of german soldiers he came across in WW2. At 15, it was interesting, and i managed to get one to a descendant of the soldier on a visit to Germany. Many years later, after a niece had done some ancestry research, I found that a relative had been killed at the Somme. So on my way on holiday one year, I made a detour to see the grave (it had been identified). I'm not sure what i expected, but its not often I am rendered so completely speechless.

Post edited at 23:01
John W - on 06 Sep 2018
In reply to teh_mark:

> Britain seems unique in that you can find a war memorial in virtually every settlement in the country, from the largest city down to the smallest village or hamlet. It really puts into perspective just how widely the effects of the Great War were felt, and how damaging it was to our country.

What makes you think it’s any different in France or Germany? Every village, every town, every city.

teh_mark on 07 Sep 2018
In reply to John W:

I wouldn't expect it to be any different, I just can't recall walking past many prominent memorials in other European countries.

Jim C - on 07 Sep 2018
In reply to BoingBoing:

They could set up a rememberence of the person on Find A Grave, and share your photographs of the grave ( GPS location if you have it) and add other photo and information of their life. 

I do this for my father's grave, and relatives (in Aus in my case) can see it, I periodically update it when I add new flowers . 

Just a thought, if you think they might like that. 

Jim C - on 07 Sep 2018
In reply to John W:

I found a suitcase in a friends house who had died leaving no family. In that case was medals and postcards from the front ( 1st WW) ,family photographs and other treasured keepsakes that the family had kept. The lad had died just weeks before the war ended . 

I too had an emotional reaction,particularly  to seeing them so carefully preserved. 

I have been unable to trace any relatives , so I have now contacted the local library in the area where he lived to see if they would want to have them for their archive, on the basis they share with others on suitable dates/exhibitions. 

Post edited at 07:58
Jim C - on 07 Sep 2018
In reply to elsewhere:

I often go to our local cemetery , and used your  link to find that there's are 104 War Graves there, many more than I was aware of, that was a useful link , as I had not realised it was searchable by Cemetery. 

Thanks for posting.

I recall quite a few years ago a group approached the company where I worked and asked to photograph the oak memorials to those who died in the wars, but we're not on public view, they said they were going to post them on a website, but I never found that site, are you aware if such a site? 

Post edited at 08:09
DerwentDiluted - on 07 Sep 2018
In reply to Jim C:

There is a huge amount of information on this forum https://www.greatwarforum.org/forum/19-cemeteries-and-memorials/

elsewhere on 07 Sep 2018
In reply to Jim C:

> are you aware if such a site? 

Unfortunately no.

 

Jim Lancs on 07 Sep 2018
In reply to dread-i:

> It's a long list for a small town. Yet, every town and village in the country all have their own long lists. Very humbling.

Not every parish - there were, I think 50 something in England that lost no one. I don't say this to pick a semantic argument, but to reinforce your point that considering all the thousands of parishes there are in England, only 50 or so escaped loss.

Strangely the two in Lancashire are up here between Carnforth and Kirkby Lonsdale (Nether Kellet and Arkholme). Both were small and being predominately farming and quarrying villages I guess most of the men were in reserved occupations.

There are also a few doubly thankful villages, again Nether Kellet being one of them.

Jenny C on 07 Sep 2018
In reply to Jim Lancs:

I am sure I read once about one village in the UK which was unique for not having a war memorial, as they lost nobody in either war.

Edit:

Just googled and aparantly there are 14 of these so called 'thankful villages'.

Post edited at 11:37
Andy Johnson on 07 Sep 2018
In reply to Jim C:

You could also ask the local council's museum service whether they could provide a home the items.

 

Tim Sparrow on 07 Sep 2018
In reply to BoingBoing:

Just returned from a trip with my sister to visit our great Uncle’s grave at St Vaast Post cemetery near Béthune, on the centenary of his death. Amazed at how well the CGWGC look after these places. It’s a small cemetery (“only 800”) in an old orchard. I gathered some of the wonderful fruit and the aim is to try to get some saplings from the apples and pears to grow on in family gardens. My second visit and a peaceful experience.

Also visited Tyne Cott cemetery in Belgium, the largest war cemetry in the world to visit my brother-in-law’s great Uncle’s memorial, a name on a plaque. 12000 graves, memorials to 35000. Humbling and sobering.

Jim Lancs on 07 Sep 2018
In reply to Jenny C:

No-one lost in either war are 'double thankful villages'.  

cander - on 07 Sep 2018
In reply to Tim Sparrow:

Theipval memorial - that’s also a pretty sobering experience. 

Jim C - on 12 Sep 2018
In reply to Andy Johnson:

I could Andy, and I will consider that, thanks for the suggestion, but there are also a load of photos at the family farm in Bishopton, so if the locals want the whole collection , that would be my preference , as they are more likely to get displayed all year round in a small museum/ Library, than in a large council collection, or regimental museum were they would be one of many. 

 

 


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