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Who rests beneath A SOLDIER OF THE GREAT WAR headstone?


chrislock
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According to many popular books I have read. Many authors state that these men are Unknown British Soldiers from the British Commonwealth. Even Franky Bostyn's book Passchandaele 1917 on page 286 states this however, I now have in front of me the latest CWGC booklet that states these men have NO KNOWN IDENTITY! I also have in front of me, a document which reveals that these graves contain totaly un identified soldiers FROM ANY NATIONALITY INCLUDING GERMAN, FRENCH ETC! This means that seeing the losses ratio was pretty much even on some battlefields, then the average CWGC battlefield cemetery's KUG burials today, could contain approximately half un known German/French etc burials! Look at it this way, if approximately 8000 soldiers are unknown in Tyne Cot CWGC, then instead of many books stating that Tyne Cot contains 1 x known German soldier and 3 un known German soldiers then in reality, there WILL BE as many as several thousand un known German soldiers in Tyne Cot let alone the rest of the CWGC's! Very thought provoking to me anyway!

What do you all reckon guys? Your ideas and input would be much appreciated!

Best regards.

Chris.

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I believe they have no known identity. Men who could be identified even a little bit are recorded as, for example, "A British Soldier of the Great War" or "A soldier of the Great War - Devonshire Regiment". An example headstone can be seen at http://www.1914-1918.net/sstaffs.htm.. Those identified as German and buried in a British cemetery are identified as such. "Unbekannter Deutsche Soldat" or "Krieger"

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Whilst that is technically correct, there will have been few bodies which did not have some remaining uniform etc to identify the nationality.

Identity and nationality are obviously not the same thing and, as Chris says, a high percentage of Commonwealth Unknowns do have some additional clues to identity - especially in Tyne Cot.

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I understand, from previous discussions on the forum, that A British Soldier meant British or Colonies. A Soldier meant that he could be British or Dominion.

An author of a Commonwealth War Graves pamphlet is allowed to say “no known identity” within the context of the Commonwealth without this inferring that the bodies are non commonwealth.

It would be difficult to believe that at the time of burial there would be insufficient evidence to sort out whether the body had been dressed in karki or grey in all except a small number.

Could you reveal the source of the document that quote?

Peter

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I have seen many soldiers remains being removed from the ground where I live and many have no evidence of clothing or equipment whatsoever! Likewise a skeleton found on the battlefield after 4 years of war may also have no clothing or equipment evidence. He IS somebody and HE has a nationality BUT WHICH AND WHO? So I would presume this man will be buried as a Soldier of the Great War KUG. At the end of the day though, he will be British Commonwealth, German, French or whatever! The document I have is written by a well known Flemish author over here called Tony De Bruyne. My wife will visit the town documentation office tomorrow and speak to the other guys there. Maybe they can spread some more light on the subject and I agree with some of the above posters: When clothing or equipment reveals Australian, Canadian, Lancs Fus, Rank, French, German or whatever, it will state that soldiers nationality/batt/rank etc but with NO EVIDENCE WHATSOEVER, A Soldier of the Great War KUG will be suffice and proper. ( And he may be German )

Phew!

Chris. :unsure:

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Note that he uses the word 'presume'.

He is probably correct - where no evidence at all exists. However, as several people have said - those occasions will be few and far between.

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