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Skipman

The Care of the Dead.

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Skipman

The care of the dead.

Outside the cemeteries themselves an immense

amount of work is done. The staffs

of the units are constantly searching all possible

and almost impossible places for isolated

graves that may have escaped registration.

The Directorate answers every enquiry sent

by a soldier's friends, and will, if they wish,

take a photograph of a grave and send it to

them, for nothing, thanks to the funds provided

for this purpose by the Joint War

Committee of the British Red Cross Society

and St. John's Ambulance. The Director

and his officers co-operate with the French

engineers, sanitary authorities and communal

councils in making arrangements to take

All enquiries should be by letter, addressed to

Director of Graves Registration and Enquiries,

War Office, Winchester House,

St. James's Square,

London, S.W.

Mike

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museumtom

Another cracker, well done Mike.

Regards.

Tom.

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Kath

Thanks, Mike.

Kath.

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Guest

I often look at the CWGC site which has many excellent articles, including this one.

Recovery and reburial in 1919

Recovery and reburial in 1919

“For the first week or two I could scarcely endure the experience we met with, but I gradually became hardened.” Private John McCauley, on his work with an exhumation company.

When the First World War came to an end in November 1918 barely half of the Western Front’s dead had been given proper burial in a designated military cemetery. The battlefields were still strewn with hundreds of hastily made ‘soldiers’ cemeteries, some little more than clusters of graves in fields, by roadsides or canal banks. There were thousands of isolated graves in the battle area and countless bodies still lay out, unburied, in what had been No Man’s Land.

A scene of post-war devastation, typical of the conditions in which the exhumation parties had to workPost war clearance of the battlefields began in earnest early in 1919 when the old battlefields were swept and swept again for small cemeteries (of less than 40 graves), battlefield graves and the previously unburied dead. All of those found were gathered into ‘concentration’ cemeteries, either newly created or built up around already established burial grounds.

Battlefield exhumation and reburial was undertaken by special Graves Concentration Units. Initially, these were made up of volunteers from infantry and labour units but later a scheme of direct recruitment into the Labour Corps for a limited period of service was introduced. Not surprisingly, such wattracted extra pay. Living and working conditions for the exhumation squads were difficult to say the least, mostly undertaken in the battlefield ‘devastated area’, a cratered, desolate landscape covered in rank vegetation, waterlogged from weather and shattered drainage systems, where the men faced additional hazards from rusting battlefield debris and unexploded ordnance.

The work itself was deeply unpleasant – the bodies they found were still in a state of decomposition yet required close examination to find means of identification. Speed was of the essence, too, both for sanitary reasons and to keep pace with reconstruction work being undertaken by the French and Belgian population keen to return to their homes and lives. Special ‘Flying Squads’ had to be ready to rush to areas not yet swept by the exhumation parties if bodies were found during building or cultivation work.

Despite these pressures, the exhumation squads were methodical and meticulous in their searches and, most of them having seen active service themselves, were painstaking in their search for anything that would help identify a fallen comrade. Nevertheless, battlefield conditions meant that many of these vital indicators were lost and a high proportion of the bodies found remained unknown.

By the time the Graves Concentration Units were disbanded in the spring of 1920 tens of thousands of bodies had been recovered and reburied, but bodies continued to be discovered in numbers for years after. Even today, the remains of as many as twenty or thirty First World War soldiers can be found on the old Western Front each year. "

Mike

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Piorun

Thank you, Mike. The continuing horror. Antony

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MichaelBully

Thanks from me too Mike, very informative linked text. Regards.

Thank you, Mike. The continuing horror. Antony

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ypres

I often look at the CWGC site which has many excellent articles, including this one.

Recovery and reburial in 1919

Recovery and reburial in 1919

"For the first week or two I could scarcely endure the experience we met with, but I gradually became hardened." Private John McCauley, on his work with an exhumation company.

When the First World War came to an end in November 1918 barely half of the Western Front's dead had been given proper burial in a designated military cemetery. The battlefields were still strewn with hundreds of hastily made 'soldiers' cemeteries, some little more than clusters of graves in fields, by roadsides or canal banks. There were thousands of isolated graves in the battle area and countless bodies still lay out, unburied, in what had been No Man's Land.

A scene of post-war devastation, typical of the conditions in which the exhumation parties had to workPost war clearance of the battlefields began in earnest early in 1919 when the old battlefields were swept and swept again for small cemeteries (of less than 40 graves), battlefield graves and the previously unburied dead. All of those found were gathered into 'concentration' cemeteries, either newly created or built up around already established burial grounds.

Battlefield exhumation and reburial was undertaken by special Graves Concentration Units. Initially, these were made up of volunteers from infantry and labour units but later a scheme of direct recruitment into the Labour Corps for a limited period of service was introduced. Not surprisingly, such wattracted extra pay. Living and working conditions for the exhumation squads were difficult to say the least, mostly undertaken in the battlefield 'devastated area', a cratered, desolate landscape covered in rank vegetation, waterlogged from weather and shattered drainage systems, where the men faced additional hazards from rusting battlefield debris and unexploded ordnance.

The work itself was deeply unpleasant – the bodies they found were still in a state of decomposition yet required close examination to find means of identification. Speed was of the essence, too, both for sanitary reasons and to keep pace with reconstruction work being undertaken by the French and Belgian population keen to return to their homes and lives. Special 'Flying Squads' had to be ready to rush to areas not yet swept by the exhumation parties if bodies were found during building or cultivation work.

Despite these pressures, the exhumation squads were methodical and meticulous in their searches and, most of them having seen active service themselves, were painstaking in their search for anything that would help identify a fallen comrade. Nevertheless, battlefield conditions meant that many of these vital indicators were lost and a high proportion of the bodies found remained unknown.

By the time the Graves Concentration Units were disbanded in the spring of 1920 tens of thousands of bodies had been recovered and reburied, but bodies continued to be discovered in numbers for years after. Even today, the remains of as many as twenty or thirty First World War soldiers can be found on the old Western Front each year. "

Mike

Thanks from me also. certainly makes you think long and hard. Do you know of any books published on the subject. JIM.

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megasoldier

Thanks from me also. certainly makes you think long and hard. Do you know of any books published on the subject. JIM.

My very first post...My Great Uncle Walter A Smith served in the Essex Regiment 2nd battalion and was killed in action on the 10th October 1917 near Poelcapelle. I know his name is on the memorial stone at Tyne Cot and as I understand it means that he has no known grave. After reading the original post of which I found interesting, I was astounded to learn that the remains of fallen soldiers are still being found today. It must of been incredibly tough job to have to go over the battle fields when the guns finally fell silent to try and identify as many bodies as possible to give them a decent burial. I'm hoping to visit Tyne Cot this year and It would be comforting to know my Great uncles final resting place. I know it will be emotional too remembering all our fallen soldiers who never made it home.

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dfaulder

WHb

Welcome to the forum. If you are wanting to read more about the attempts to recover bodies after the war you may find the following useful:

Clearing the Dead by Peter E. Hodgkinson | the clearance and burial of the remains of British soldiers from the Great War battlefields | WWI Resource Centre (Originally published by University of Birmingham). There is a sub-forum about present day recoveries.

You are right in believing that if your relative's name is on the Tyne Cot memorial it means he has no known grave (he may have one of the many "known unto God" graves found in nearly all the CWGC cemeteries. If you manage to visit, I should warn you that there are very many memorial panels and not a single stone. You will find an index to the panels in the visitor centre (or on the CWGC website - search by casualty).

post-22880-0-10562600-1312665651.jpg

The Tyne Cot wall - approximately half of it - through the arches there are further panels - including the one where my grandfather is commemorated.

David

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megasoldier

WHb

Welcome to the forum. If you are wanting to read more about the attempts to recover bodies after the war you may find the following useful:

Clearing the Dead by Peter E. Hodgkinson | the clearance and burial of the remains of British soldiers from the Great War battlefields | WWI Resource Centre (Originally published by University of Birmingham). There is a sub-forum about present day recoveries.

You are right in believing that if your relative's name is on the Tyne Cot memorial it means he has no known grave (he may have one of the many "known unto God" graves found in nearly all the CWGC cemeteries. If you manage to visit, I should warn you that there are very many memorial panels and not a single stone. You will find an index to the panels in the visitor centre (or on the CWGC website - search by casualty).

post-22880-0-10562600-1312665651.jpg

The Tyne Cot wall - approximately half of it - through the arches there are further panels - including the one where my grandfather is commemorated.

David

David

Thank you for the information and for the links. I know that My great uncles name will be on panels 98-99, however I've learned that the panels are being re engraved at the moment so by going this year I will be taking a chance that I would actually see his name. My son who wants to go into the army himself, wants to join me when I visit Tyne cot of which I will be taking him along. I find this forum very interesting and I'm honoured to be a member of it.

Alan.

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Ed Woods

This is the diary from the 2nd Essex Regiment for part of October 1917 - transcribed by forum pal GrandsonMichael

Mon., Oct 1, 1917

HULLS FARM CAMP,

The Battalion move back to CARIBOO camp.

Casualties :- 4 OR to F.A. 1 OR. evacuated.

Tue., Oct 2, 1917

CARIBOO CAMP,

Working parties as under found by the battalion 5. Officers and 250 OR. carrying trench boards to forward area. 2 N.C.Os and 30 men improving accommodation on canal bank. 4 Officers and 15 OR. carrying duck boards to forward area.

Casualties :- 2/Lieut S.C. Harrison proceeded on leave. 6 OR. evacuated. 6 O.R. to F.A.

Wed., Oct 3, 1917

CARIBOO CAMP,

Orders received that the Battalion would move to LIEPSIG Camp on 4th inst.

Casualties :- 3. OR wounded, 3 OR to F.A. 4 OR evacuated, 1 O.R. Killed

Thu., Oct 4, 1917

CARIBOO CAMP,

The Battalion moved to LIEPSIG Camp leaving CARIBOO Camp at 9.30 am and arriving at LIEPSIG Camp at 11.0 am.

Casualties :- 6 OR to F.A. 2 OR from F.A. 1 OR wounded. 2 OR reinforcements.

Fri., Oct 5, 1917

LIEPSIG CAMP,

Preparations for the attack.

Casualties :- 1 OR to F.A.

Sat., Oct 6, 1917

LIEPSIG CAMP,

Preparations made for move forward to take up battle positions, all Officers reconnoitred Line, advance party proceed up same day to take over.

Casualties :- 1 OR Killed 1 OR wounded.

Sun., Oct 7, 1917

LIEPSIG CAMP,

Orders to relieve the Rifle Brigade and Hants Regt in the line. Relief started and complete 9.30 pm. "A", "B" and "C"oy now in battle positions "C" and "D" Coys around LEWIS FARM.

Casualties :- 10 OR. to F.A. 8. O.R. evacuated.

Mon., Oct 8, 1917

FRONT LINE, FLANDERS

Battln in shell holes in front line and near LEWIS FARM. "C" and "D". Coys occupied battle positions at night ready for the battle.

Casualties :- 4. O.R. Killed. 4 OR. wounded 3. OR to F.A.

Tue., Oct 9, 1917

FRONT LINE, FLANDERS

"The Battle of Flanders". The Battln had during the night formed up in their battle positions, "A" and "B" Coys in front line on right and left respectively "C" Coy in support about FERDAN HOUSE and "D" Coy in reserve behind "C" Coy.

B.H.Q. moved from LOUIS FARM to FERDAN at ZERO 2 hours. 2/Lieut C.H. STANLEY wounded during this move ZERO hour 5.20 AM. Rather dark, our guns put down very heavy stationary barrage for 4 minutes and then started to creep at the rate of 100 yards in ten minutes. Men went over but encountered severe Snipers and M.G. fire near railway [inserted: but objective captured] Battln on left held up, and gap of 200 yards on our right between ourselves and POELCAPELLE, heavy M.G. fire from concrete block houses. An advance of a few hundred yards was made, and battalion organized for counter attack. Heavy Snipers fire, Adjutant, and Colonel hit soon after attack started, also "A" and "C" Company Commanders Enemy barrage late in coming down 5 minutes most casualties from rifle and M.G. fire. Re-organization took place at night and touch maintained with Division on right. No counter attack against our captured positions, although a good deal of enemy movement was visible by REQUETE FARM.

Casualties in Officers this day were :-

Lieut Col. A.G. PRATT, D.S.O. wounded. Capt E.G. Griffin, wounded. Capt J.R. Paxman wounded, 2/Lieut C.H. Stanley wounded. 2/Lieut G.B. Hobbs- Died of wounds. 2/Lieut G. Classey wounded. 2/Lieut L. Pannifer wounded. 2/Lieut A.E. Chapman - wounded. Capt L.W.L. Cadic M.C. Died of wounds. Capt R.H. Lowe Killed 2/Lieut F.W. Gilbert Killed. 2/Lieut F.W. Legg Killed. 2/Lieut R.M. Ingram, wounded. 2/Lieut H.A. Keell, missing believed Killed. 2/Lieut G. Williamson Missing believed Killed. 2/Lieut W.A. ?lieve Missing believed Killed. Capt W.J. Cragg to F.A.

- For casualties in O.Rs see Oct 14th -

Wed., Oct 10, 1917

FRONT LINE, FLANDERS

Battalion still in shell holes in front line. Conditions through weather very bad. Heavy shell fire continued, very successful relief carried out. Relieved by Household Battalion and battalion again occupied shell holes by FERDAN HOUSE in support

2/Lieut F.W. Gilbert, killed after this relief by shell fire.

Casualties :- see 14th inst. Maj R N Thompson assumed Command of Battn

Thu., Oct 11, 1917

FRONT LINE, FLANDERS

Battalion forced to evacuate Reserve position owing to casualties from shell fire and took up fresh position 200 yards S of POELCAPELLE ROAD. Relieved the same night by the 1st Bn Rifle Brigade. Battalion took up positions by STRAY FARM in Divisional reserve. Were not called upon during the attack of the 12th inst.

Fri., Oct 12, 1917

STAY FARM, FLANDERS

In bivouac's. Relieved by the N. Fusiliers, 34th Division and proceeded to LIEPSIG Camp in the evening. Remaining two Battalions of the 12th Brigade attacked again.

Casualties :- see 14th inst.

Sat., Oct 13, 1917

LIEPSIG FARM, FLANDERS

Battalion just out of line after recent operations, removed to PORCHESTER Camp by train during day. Arrived at 8.0 P.M.

Casualties :- see 14th inst.

Sun., Oct 14, 1917

PORCHESTER CAMP, FLANDERS

Total casualties of O.Rs for the period 9th to 14th inst. :-

37. O.R. Killed. 5 OR. Died of Wounds. 144 OR. Wounded. 25 OR. missing. 4 OR Gassed. 3 OR Wounded and remaining at duty. 56 OR to F.A.

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megasoldier

Dear Ed . Thank you so much for sharing the diaries of the 2nd Battalion Essex regiment. It was moving to read what the Battalion would have been doing the day My great Uncle Died. 10th Oct 1917.. That day will now be a remembrance day as well as the 11th of November..

Alan

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Tom Morgan

In Mike's original post, the page he links to for The Care of the Dead contails download links for various versions of the book including one for the Kindle. Could anyone please explain how I get this version downloaded to my Kindle? I'd be grateful for any help with this.

Tom

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dfaulder

Download to a PC, then connect the Kindle to the PC via the USB cable provided (part of the charging cable/plug) and transfer the downloaded file to your Kindle - which should show as a drive in your file manager.

HTH

David

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Guest

Hi Tom. I don't have a kindle. but it's explained

(sort of )

Hope this is of use

Mike

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Tom Morgan

Mike and David - thanks very much indeed. Mission accomplished. The posted description and linked video together did the trick though the voice of the video narrator gave me the creeps! I worked out that I needed to download Kindle for PC first, which I did, and the rest was easy. I think I'm going to have fun building up my library with this new knowledge! Thanks again -

Tom

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blarneyray

Thanks for the link to the hellfire corner its great thanks

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Guest adambrown186

I am researching Col. Richard Neville Thompson who is the author of these dispatches. Does anyone know whether the book quoted contains a photograph or other biographical material regarding him personally? Might the volume be available digitally or in reprint?

Adam Brown

Englewood, NJ USA

---------------------------

Wed., Oct 10, 1917

FRONT LINE, FLANDERS

Battalion still in shell holes in front line. Conditions through weather very bad. Heavy shell fire continued, very successful relief carried out. Relieved by Household Battalion and battalion again occupied shell holes by FERDAN HOUSE in support

2/Lieut F.W. Gilbert, killed after this relief by shell fire.

Casualties :- see 14th inst. Maj R N Thompson assumed Command of Battn

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