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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

Body Parts


ypresman

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Hi

Yesterday, spent several hours down the pub (in the name of research, honest!!!), chatting to a WW2 Vet. Apparently his father had served in The Great War and he proceeded to tell me it was not uncommon for these guys to use body parts as props!

He went on to tell me they, as a unit, were holed up in a barn, around the Ypres Salient, for a total of 3 days. In this time they couldn't leave the barn and went on to " use an arm as a prop to hold open a skylight". He then quoted "also a leg to hold open an internal door, as it got too stuffy".

Now I've personally never heard of this and as I need to write this story down , without looking too stupid, can anyone else verify similar stories?

Maybe it was the fact the amount of Guiness I had to buy him and the few times he fell over that made me wonder, but I still need to rectify it.............

Many thanks.

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There are accounts of this happening (usually to shore up trench walls etc, during times of extreme action when burial is impossible) and an immunity to the horror of thesight of a corpse does occur eventually. However, in the interests of hygiene, most corpses were covered over whenever possible.

Don't forget, that this guy's story is actually second hand, and ex-soldiers are the worst culprits in the world for exaggerating to civvies!!! :D

Without doubt, though (in my opinion), this did happen on occasion.

Dave.

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Hi

Many thanks Dave.

I knew of the Trench wall type thing and as this guy knew I was no fool, I can't help wondering if he was pulling me leg :D

Did this happen, as in his story, or was it a widespread thing?

Many thanks.

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Hi

Many thanks Dave.

I knew of the Trench wall type thing and as this guy knew I was no fool, I can't help wondering if he was pulling me leg :D

Did this happen, as in his story, or was it a widespread thing?

Many thanks.

Think about it.

Holed up in a barn for 3 days? In the Ypres Salient?

Why would they be in a barn for three whole days? Where, apart from behind the lines would you find a barn still standing (assuming he's not referring to events of pre 1915 and those of 1918 that is) in the Salient battle zone? Also, why would you find body parts in this barn to prop open a skylight - did they bring the bits with them? If there are bits of body around the barn, then it would seem like it's been hit by shellfire. This would surely open gaping holes in it - why the need to open a skylight (skylight - in a barn? why?).

I'd take this story with a pinch of salt if I were you, to be honest (though don't tell the guy that - he might genuinely believe it (I've had similar tall stories from my father-in-Law who believes without doubt the WW1 stories that his dad (Border Regt. 1918) told him. I've proven some of these wrong ( and some are too silly to be true anyway), but he won't accept it off me because I wasn't there, whereas his dad was!)

Dave.

(he's not talking about 1940 is he, by any chance? :unsure: )

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Dave

What I can gather, this chaps father was killed in Jan 1915, so I presumed it was late 1914. They are going on his 'Diaries', but I need to research that further.

I thought he had it mixed up with WW2 and his own experiences, but after speaking to a fellow enthusiast tonight (who spoke to the same chap), we think his story rings true (as he has repeated this same story several times), but might have got other things mixed up, ie the skylight was the entrance to the hay loft and so forth....

As to where the body parts came from still baffles me, thats why I asked if it was a common thing, as it didn't sound right.

Was there still barns/outbuildings in the Salient in late 1914? I presumed there was.

As you quite correctly stated, if there were body parts lying around, why the need for more ventilation if there was a mass bombardment of the area where soldiers and buildings were shattered?

What happens if it were a short bombardment where a few men got caught out in the open and then decided to seek refuge in the barn?

Maybe tried to drag a few of their dead and dying with them.

Were 'bits' flung into the barn? Were they surrounded? Were they confined to one corner of the building where there was no ventilation?

Its all 'ifs & buts', all I'm trying to establish if it was a common knowledge for this type of thing to happen.

Something this ol' chap told me was maybe true, you can see the passion in his eyes as he told the 'story', but as too which bits, mmmm....

Anyway, many thanks for your help, you have made me think about one or two things... :blink:

Marc.

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