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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

They were buried where they died


kebabking

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Reading the request for signatures for a petition to Parliament for guides on the Western Front made me compare then and now.

THEY were buried where they died,I have seen discussion on here where requests for repatriation of the bodies has been officially blocked.

So why the funeral planes flying into Brise Norton from Iraq and Afganistan.

Was it a case of too many then so CANT but just a few now so we CAN or is there another reason.?

(Just a few is too many IMO)

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One reason was sheer numbers. The other was cost. Unless the government paid, only those who could afford it would have been repatriated. There are also practical difficulties. The logistics of moving thousands of corpses would have presented impossible difficulty at the time. One further difficulty, if you bring them home from France, do you bring them home from Middle East, Gallipoli? Where do you drraw the line? The answer was to draw the line at the Channel and admit no exceptions.

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One reason was sheer numbers. The other was cost.

A third, IMO, was politics.

The post war period was one of political turmoil with "the establishment" in the UK worried that the Bolshevik revolution would spread here. The last thing they would want was a daily reminder, in every community in the land, of the consequences of the fighting. Much better to leave all those bodies relatively out of sight in countries that few would be able to afford to visit.

John

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I think you also had the 'problem' of the colonies.

1. Did you send bodies back to Britain but not to Canada and South Africa etc? The soldiers of the CEF AIF NZEF etc were just as 'British'.

2. A great number of soldiers in the colonial forces had next of kin listed as living in the UK - where should you send their bodies?

3. Similar to #2, you had men born in the 'colonies' serving in the BEF - where should their bodies be sent?

Allie

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Hi,

I do remember reading about and seeing pictures about the repatriation of bodies during the Great War. I think that up to 1915, some officers were repatriated back to the UK. A high ranking example is that of W Robertson, the famous private up to Field Marshall. A comparion with latter on in the war, is that General Maude was laid to rest in Baghdad when he died in 1917/18. I wonder what state his grave is in now, with all the currrent problems in that area.

Hillgorilla :)

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I suspect that Field Marshal Sir William Robertson would have been most miffed if he had not been repatriated. He didn't die until 1933!

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I can fully accept the problems in the 1914-21 conflict but were not the Falklands Fallen buried there.

The facilities to repatriate them would have been in place.

Has there been a change of policy.

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When did they start repstriating bodies to the UK? I remember living in Cyprus in the late 1950s and early 1960s and my father acting as a bearer at a military funeral with a local burial there then!

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The NOK of those who fell in the Falklands were given a choice of repatriation or burial in the Falklands cemetery. Some were brought home.

The remit of the CWGC is limited to the two World Wars, although they care for other war graves when contracted to do so by the MOD. So burials from subsequent conflicts do not necessarily follow the same criteria. (Terry will no doubt correct me if I have got this wrong.)

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IIRC The Falklands Conflict was the first where repatriation of bodies was officially allowed.

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