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Remembered Today:

Ploughing On The Somme


davedixon
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Well, I think we've already had a very good reason from Kathie in trying to excite and educate her children.

People probably are setting up little museums in their garden sheds. A long tradition of this in UK (and Northern Europe) at least - often resulting in nationally (or at least, locally) important collections. Often not entirely provenanced but sometimes the only record that survives.

Highly context specific.

Not sure what the Napoleonic Wars got to do with this. It's an entirely different context.

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Battle of Waterloo - 1815

100 years later

(give or take 1 year)

Battle of Somme

Nearly 100 years later (give or take 9 years)

Today

Attitudes to our dead have certainly changed. Does that explain the reference?

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Battle of Waterloo - 1815

100 years later

(give or take 1 year)

Battle of Somme

Nearly 100 years later (give or take 9 years)

Today

Attitudes to our dead have certainly changed. Does that explain the reference?

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Sorry, are you saying that bodies were ground up/looted etc 100 years after Waterloo? Not trying to be awkward, just trying to get a handle on this.

I agree entirely, attitudes have changed. Are you arguing that the modern attitude of collecting is inherently better than the looting that prevailed in the Napoleonic era? I ask only for the sake of clarity, I know how easy it is to slip into the whirpool of misunderstanding on the forum.

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Yeah. Dead napoleonic soldiers were a valuable resource. First you robbed them of any useful kit. If wounded, a knife across the throat solved that business dilemma. Next, a pair of pliers would be needed to remove the teeth. (False teeth at the time were referred to as ‘Waterloo teeth”, later to be called ‘Gettysburg teeth” for the same reason). Finally, a good profit was to be made from the bones of the dead soldiery in the UK as the need for fertilizer soared. So much so that Europeans complained..

"England is robbing all other countries of their fertility. Already in her eagerness for bones, she has turned up the battlefields of Leipsic [sic], and Waterloo, and of Crimea; already from the catacombs of Sicily she has carried away skeletons of many successive generations. Annually she removes from the shores of other countries to her own the manorial equivalent of three million and a half of men... Like a vampire she hangs from the neck of Europe."

The 48,000 casualties of Waterloo were never buried, nature was left to clean up the field. All that good bonemeal, would have been a shame to waste it!

<_<

But then, what do we know about Boer War graves (97,417 casualties)? This war was just a few years before, and which many of the men of the Great War fought in. Attitudes change very fast indeed.

;)

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The 48,000 casualties of Waterloo were never buried, nature was left to clean up the field. 

But then, what do we know about Boer War graves (97,417 casualties)?  This war was just a few years before, and which many of the men of the Great War fought in. Attitudes change very fast indeed.

Not quite true. A soldier's grave was a comrade's grave in those days. Some were buried individually, others were re-patriated. The majority found their way into vast burial pits. These pits, many unmarked, but some commemorated can be found throughout Europe. Individual cemeteries exist from the Crimean War and the KgV look after the graves of many thousands of individuals in many cemeteries from the 1870-71 war (see my website for specifics). Individual soldiers cemeteries and graves exist for both the Zulu and (especially)Boer Wars , they're just not as easy to research as the Great war ones because they had no permanant "body" looking after them so many have fallen into disrepair or disappeared over the years. One thing is certain though - there was the same respect for the dead of the post-1850 19th century conflicts as there was for the 20th century ones. It's just that more modern people have been more forgetful.

Dave.

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That's interesting, but it wasn't happening 100 years after the event a la Western Front 1915/2005. Aren't comparisons between collecting attitudes in the present and battlefield looting/salvage in the past a little stretched?

Attitudes (loosely based around the rise of the collector in C19th Europe) have certainly changed - but isn't that a statement of the obvious?

I don't think we're anywhere near the reasons behind why people collect WWI artefacts direct from the battlefields yet.

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That's interesting, but it wasn't happening 100 years after the event a la Western Front 1915/2005....

...I don't think we're anywhere near the reasons behind why people collect WWI artefacts direct from the battlefields yet.

I think you might find that it was. <_< The only reason that it was less well known was that there were fewer people able to actually get to the battlefields (combined with the fact that the media of the time didn't stir up the interest as it does now).

As for the reasons why people collect battlefield artifacts - why do we need to know them anyway? Every person is an individual with their own interests and tastes, and therefore reasons. If there is one thing in common with a collector of artifacts and of a collector of ,well, anything really, then it's the fact that he/she finds whatever it is that they collect interesting and attractive. Just because someone else doesn't, then it doesn't make their interest abhorrant!

I'm not willing to enter a debate on the rights/wrongs of battlefield artifact collecting (my last post was about the disposal of battlefield corpses and their "long-term after-care" in answer to some of the points on the previous post, nothing to do with artifact collecting) as no-one here has the ability to give a definitive answer. Personally, I don't see anything more "morally wrong" with a relic collector than there is with a medal collector, uniform collector, stamp collector, art collector or even train spotter! Each to their own.

Dave.

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he/she finds whatever it is that they collect interesting and attractive. Just because someone else doesn't, then it doesn't make their interest abhorrant!

This misses the point slightly. I can think of many examples of people being quite rightly jailed for collecting things which they considered 'interesting and attractive'. And isn't part of the issue how these items were obtained? I don't arrange flowers, but wouldn't consider this hobby abhorrant. My opinion would change if I knew that the blooms had been lifted from a cemetery.

no-one here has the ability to give a definitive answer.

Dave.

Very true. I've learned from reading the whole range of opinions expressed here, thanks. :)

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Sorry, let me get this straight: in 1915, 100 years after Waterloo, people were taking skeletal remains from that particular battlefield and shipping them back to England? Can you provide some evidence for this?

I think we should try and understand collecting behaviour, it's an object of study in its own right: e.g. ex-servicemen who began collecting prehistoric material on the Somme and continued doing so back in England. Who, what, where, when - so why not the 'why'? Isn't the 'why of it' one of the most important questions, ultimately (or eventually, given time), that we can ask of a collection

... and artefacts and skeletons often go hand in hand!

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Your so right Simon, but then I have the attention span of an ant. And often the best threads are those that ramble a bit. But don’t you find that those people who pedantically stick to the topic slightly anal-retentive?

Anyway, collectors. A good, although not exhaustive study was carried out by William D. McIntosh and Branden Schmeichel. They identified four types of ‘collector’ based on the reasons why they collected or amassed objects.

The first type of collector McIntosh and Schmeichel define is the Passionate collector. People of this type find something they love and soon become heavily involved in obtaining as many specimens of this object as they can, often forming large collections. Having ‘touchable’ proof of their collecting is satisfying. This type of collector is the most likely one to continue collecting a specific object for a long period of time. Emotional and obsessive, these people feel some sort of personal satisfaction when a new item is obtained.

The second type is the Inquisitive collector. These people see collecting as an investment. They are the most likely to sell their items when the time or price is right. These people amass collections of valuable objects, and always know their value.

Thirdly, the Hobbyist collector..These people collect purely for the enjoyment of collecting. They do not have any special attachment to the items they collect, yet they can’t bring themselves to sell them. These people are normally goal-oriented and enjoy searching for uncommon items they can display or receive praise for.

Fourthly the Expressive collector. These people collect certain objects as an expression of who they are. They want others to see a certain side of them without having to explain themselves.

See if you recognise any of these traits (in yourself or others)

· The first ‘object’ I found was by luck, now I seek them out.

· Before I get an ‘object’ I gather as much information about it as possible.

· I visit auction web sites

· I visit junk yards (of any type)

· Ask friend and family for information about my ‘objects’ (inc. this site!)

· I also collect books and magazines about the ‘objects’ I collect

· Getting the ideal ‘object’ becomes more than just an ideal.

· Emotional attachment to their ‘objects’

· Each new ‘object’ was more ideal that the last, and obtaining it more exciting

· Urge to share the ‘obtaining’ process with others (even when it clearly bores them)

· When ‘bidding’ against other collectors, you experience stress.

· Obtainment of the ideal ‘object’ is often accompanied by increased personal confidence and the feeling that one can do anything. (This phase is also commonly accompanied by high endorphin levels, an overwhelming sense of satisfaction and heightened sexual awareness [constantly touching ‘object’])

· Your ‘objects’ deserve to be displayed.

· Reorganise ‘objects’ as you add new ones – and enjoy the process

· You show ‘object’ to family and friends

· You sleep better knowing the ‘object’ is safe with you

· You have a mission to ‘save’ these objects for future collectors

But then what do I know.. :)

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Your so right Simon, but then I have the attention span of an ant. And often the best threads are those that ramble a bit. But don’t you find that those people who pedantically stick to the topic slightly anal-retentive?

Anyway, collectors. A good, although not exhaustive study was carried out by William D. McIntosh and Branden Schmeichel. They identified four types of ‘collector’ based on the reasons why they collected or amassed objects.

The first type of collector McIntosh and Schmeichel define is the Passionate collector. People of this type find something they love and soon become heavily involved in obtaining as many specimens of this object as they can, often forming large collections. Having ‘touchable’ proof of their collecting is satisfying. This type of collector is the most likely one to continue collecting a specific object for a long period of time. Emotional and obsessive, these people feel some sort of personal satisfaction when a new item is obtained.

The second type is the Inquisitive collector. These people see collecting as an investment. They are the most likely to sell their items when the time or price is right. These people amass collections of valuable objects, and always know their value.

Thirdly, the Hobbyist collector..These people collect purely for the enjoyment of collecting. They do not have any special attachment to the items they collect, yet they can’t bring themselves to sell them. These people are normally goal-oriented and enjoy searching for uncommon items they can display or receive praise for.

Fourthly the Expressive collector. These people collect certain objects as an expression of who they are. They want others to see a certain side of them without having to explain themselves.

See if you recognise any of these traits (in yourself or others)

· The first ‘object’ I found was by luck, now I seek them out.

· Before I get an ‘object’ I gather as much information about it as possible.

· I visit auction web sites

· I visit junk yards (of any type)

· Ask friend and family for information about my ‘objects’ (inc. this site!)

· I also collect books and magazines about the ‘objects’ I collect

· Getting the ideal ‘object’ becomes more than just an ideal.

· Emotional attachment to their ‘objects’

· Each new ‘object’ was more ideal that the last, and obtaining it more exciting

· Urge to share the ‘obtaining’ process with others (even when it clearly bores them)

· When ‘bidding’ against other collectors, you experience stress.

· Obtainment of the ideal ‘object’ is often accompanied by increased personal confidence and the feeling that one can do anything. (This phase is also commonly accompanied by high endorphin levels, an overwhelming sense of satisfaction and heightened sexual awareness [constantly touching ‘object’])

· Your ‘objects’ deserve to be displayed.

· Reorganise ‘objects’ as you add new ones – and enjoy the process

· You show ‘object’ to family and friends

· You sleep better knowing the ‘object’ is safe with you

· You have a mission to ‘save’ these objects for future collectors

But then what do I know.. :)

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What about collecting that posits specific questions and then tries to answer them through objects? There's also the 'why' of historic enquiry isn't there? I do think that battlefield collections should be able to begin to answer wider historical questions, I think its important to encourage amateur-collectors to engage in the kind of recording and research activities that really start to push the boundaries of what we think we know about a place. The points you raise are most likely quite important, but I'd be careful with this kind of research (as you mention), especially as regards the ideas of 'heightened sexual tension' which some board members may find questionable.

I know threads can ramble, that's fine, I'm just not sure that Waterloo is directly comparable to Western Front - but you're welcome to talk about it.

There's 'nowt wrong with sticking to the point! :) And don't forget some members might not like being classed as anal retentives, you should be careful here.

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Sorry, let me get this straight: in 1915, 100 years after Waterloo, people were taking skeletal remains from that particular battlefield and shipping them back to England? Can you provide some evidence for this?... and artefacts and skeletons often go hand in hand!

Err, no? :blink: What ?- are people digging up skeletons from 1915 today and taking them back to England? I know of one or two "collectors" who had (parts of) human remains in their collections, but I didn't know of any in England. Who are they? Anyway, when did we start talking about skeletons? :unsure:

"Artifacts and skeletons often go hand in hand..."? I think (know) that the discovery of human remains on the Western Front is a lot rarer an occasion than is being made out in this thread. Far more likely to find a bullet than a bone.

Dave.

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Collectors of humane remains sick or what

bruce :angry:

Very.

Dave. (One was quite a well known name, but I won't reveal his identity)

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Hi Simon

Really don’t want to but heads with you at all. Only just joined the Forum and have found it a fascinating place, stocked full of agreeable characters whose sense of humour is as vast and as wide ranging as their historical knowledge. Croonaert knowledge is incredible and his web site brilliant. Pajoro writing, reasoned and stimulating. Excellent.

So I’ll have my last 2 pennies worth and move on from this thread.

1. I don’t need to careful with this research, it’s in the public domain. The part I have paraphrased is from two of the leading authorities in this field. Current research is far more damning, but I will leave others to find that out if they have a will to.

2. ‘Heightened sexual tension’ please. You can get that from eating chocolate. Is there anything more phallic as a bayonet, as sexy as a weapon? These are more socio-multiplex issues.

3. Oh and thank you for allowing me to ramble. Sorry, should have asked first.

4. Waterloo…umm. Late at night that post. Interest attitude change over 50 odd years though. Thanks for your permission to talk about it; but said all I wanted; maybe another time.

5. Sorry, who did I class as ‘anal retentives’? Where was the j’accuse? Perhaps if you read your last post and kept that phrase in mind?

Well that’s about it, nothing personal old son but must be off. Other more enlightened threads to read.

And look…a smilie ;)

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Dear All,

1) As written above, the suggestion seemed to be made that 100 years AFTER waterloo i.e. in 1915 that human remains were being dug up and exported back to England. The suggestion was made that this was comparable to events 100 years after 1915 i.e. collectors of battlefield debris in 2005. I asked if this was what was in fact meant, to which subsequent replies have indicated that this was, perhaps, not what was intended. It's all readable in previous posts.

2) We do need to be a bit careful about the language we use on the forum, since face to face dialogue/communication is absent. People can easily be offended and I was simply offering a few pointers, nothing personal at all. And now that I have effectively been classed as anally retentive this caveat would appear to be most pertinent! Forum rules are easily sailed close to when discussing emotive subjects like human remains and we should be careful. I speak from experience here!

3) I really did mean what I said: 'you're welcome to talk about it', as in 'it's a relevant part of discussion revolving around warfare in general' but as a direct comparison to 14-18, I would argue that Waterloo etc is probably a bit stretched.

4) Western front skeletons are not found naked, wiped clean of all clothing, personal weapons, pocket books, watches and other artefacts - especially if they're 'among the missing'. They have an attendent, often personal, material culture which has been used to help identify them. You really are most likely (whilst fieldwalking) to find bullets rather than articulated skeletons, there's no argument there, but there have been documented examples of people being excavated with tin hats, service dress, SMLES, breadbags, 'dog-tags', all in situ and surviving. This is what I was referring to.

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If anyone is having a dig around the Hohenzollern Redoubt and finds anything that looks even remotely like it could belong to the man in my signature could they please forward it to my Great Aunt. It is her 100th birthday on the 20th November and I am sure that she would be absolutely delighted to have something of her fathers to remember him by. No skeletons please :D

Andy

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putting these theories to the test. Have just gone and caressed my collection. Nothing stirred in the trouser department so must be alright then.

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1) As written above, the suggestion seemed to be made that 100 years AFTER waterloo i.e. in 1915 that human remains were being dug up and exported back to England. The suggestion was made that this was comparable to events 100 years after 1915 i.e. collectors of battlefield debris in 2005. I asked if this was what was in fact meant, to which subsequent replies have indicated that this was, perhaps, not what was intended. It's all readable in previous posts.

Simon.

Definately a case of "crossed-wires" here, I think. To try and unravel it a little, this is how I saw it (and still do, to be honest)...

The talk was about the digging up/finding and collecting of relics. Borderman mentioned the Waterloo casualties' bodies being used for other purposes (undoubtedly, some were, but it's a story that has been exaggerated through time). I arrived and mentioned what really happened to the majority of corpses upto and including the Boer War. This, about Waterloo bodies (which I only referred to once) was, I thought, "on the side" of the main conversation about relics which is what I thought you meant when you mentioned the removal taking place 100 years later (ie 1915). That's why you threw me a little when you started talking about skeletons! Obviously (now I think about it), you were talking corpses, I was talking relics. Also, was your first post after mine actually directed to Borderman and not myself by any chance? I can see where you're coming from if that's the case.

Dave. :)

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That's it Dave, spot on, sorry about the mess.

(p.s. off topic here - but what bde. did your Gt. Uncle serve in whilst with the Labour Corps.? - is there a thread where I can read all about it?

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(p.s. off topic here - but what bde. did your Gt. Uncle serve in whilst with the Labour Corps.? - is there a thread where I can read all about it?

He was in No.12 POW Company (service number 564242). I don't know of any thread that mentions them and that's all I know of his Labour Corps service, I'm afraid.

Dave.

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Dear All,

1) As written above, the suggestion seemed to be...

2) We do need to be a bit careful about the language we use on the forum,... etc

Well stated Simon.

"So I’ll have my last 2 pennies worth and move on from this thread" - don't you just hate it when people feel they have to have the last word? ;)

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Dear All,

1) As written above, the suggestion seemed to be made that 100 years AFTER waterloo i.e. in 1915 that human remains were being dug up and exported back to England. The suggestion was made that this was comparable to events 100 years after 1915 i.e. collectors of battlefield debris in 2005. I asked if this was what was in fact meant, to which subsequent replies have indicated that this was, perhaps, not what was intended. It's all readable in previous posts.

2) We do need to be a bit careful about the language we use on the forum, since face to face dialogue/communication is absent. People can easily be offended and I was simply offering a few pointers, nothing personal at all. And now that I have effectively been classed as anally retentive this caveat would appear to be most pertinent! Forum rules are easily sailed close to when discussing emotive subjects like human remains and we should be careful. I speak from experience here!

3) I really did mean what I said: 'you're welcome to talk about it', as in 'it's a relevant part of discussion revolving around warfare in general' but as a direct comparison to 14-18, I would argue that Waterloo etc is probably a bit stretched.

4) Western front skeletons are not found naked, wiped clean of all clothing, personal weapons, pocket books, watches and other artefacts  - especially if they're 'among the missing'. They have an attendent, often personal, material culture which has been used to help identify them. You really are most likely (whilst fieldwalking) to find bullets rather than articulated skeletons, there's no argument there, but there have been documented examples of people being excavated with tin hats, service dress, SMLES, breadbags, 'dog-tags', all in situ and surviving. This is what I was referring to.

To quote SimonR 'People probably are setting up little museums in their garden sheds. A long tradition of this in UK (and Northern Europe) at least - often resulting in nationally (or at least, locally) important collections. Often not entirely provenanced but sometimes the only record that survives.'

Battlefield Artefact Provenance will always increase as time passes. Whether financial or otherwise. There will always be collectors. I accept this.

A few of those brave men are still with us (alive today) and still retelling their valuable accounts of this war. I wonder and would encourage them if they ever felt the inclination, to provide their views/opinions in this particular discussion thread. I would certainly hope that they did not meet with welcome I incurred. Each to their own.

There are vast groups of databases readily available to provide us with a more than adequate resource to refer too, whether it be the construction of weapons, regimental insignia, trench maps etc etc. I fail to see how significant the setting up of little museums in garden sheds adds to the vast wealth of knowledge we already possess re this particular war.

Nice comparison made by Borderman re Napoleonic Wars (good clarity). I totally understood the comparison. Simon could not identify the context intended and what he considered a little stretched. Each to their own.

The use of the 100 years guage further reinforces the fact that a few of those brave men are still with us (alive today) and yet some folks consider it defensible in these times, to loot the battlefield as anything found thereon is to be considered 'grave booty'. I read that particular opinion on my first visit to this forum. Each to their own as Chrislock correctly stated earlier in this thread.

Lost Generation Season just came on television advertsing 'The Somme'. How apt as I type this message. The Officer gives his men instructions prior to them stepping out of their trenches.... if they knew the topics being discussed would they have still gone over the top. Who knows?

Bert Heyvaert managed to clarify my view more succinctly than I could. I won't repeat it. See previous thread. Thanks again Bert.

However, what I will suggest is that this excellent forum is a mirror, a reflection of views entered hereon. To be met with the sarcasm is hilarious if somewhat tedious. There will be new future visitors to this forum reading this thread and renewing the arguments for and against collecting battlefield artefacts. Anyway, if you are one of those collectors, why not take up the practice of accurately recording the position etc etc of your find, you never know, it may become relevant or useful in the future.

A big headsup to Borderman and a hearty Welcome to the forum.

Thanks also to you SimonR for this post to all. Me included. However, I didn't need the advice thanks, re forum rules and the utilisation of this particular type of communication. An additional thanks in that you provide the permission to talk/discuss topics that YOU don't consider pertinent.

.... Pajoro silently tiptoes off to another part of the forum hopefully to avoid Trolls or somebody calling him a Troll and secretly hoping that he's beat DaveBrigg in having the last word........

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