WW1 battlefield casualty clearance - Interesting read

#1
Clearing the dead

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 ( full URL incase the link doesn't work )

I did a search of the site and couldn't find this linked anywhere else. A fascinating account of the creation and experiences of the Graves Registration units in WW1... Quite gruesome ( but then it would be ) but very informative and a subject about which I have found very little information in comparison to the actual battles / WW1.

Hope you find it interesting. My interest has been peaked this year with the centenary, but more with the "what happened next" rather than the actual war as I had already read and watched quite a lot about it.

All the best.

Sammers.
 

ugly

LE
Moderator
#2
When at Tyne Cott last year with Clayp1g we saw some of the photos of the recoveries. It is indeed very interesting!
 
#3
Makes you speculate as to what % of those CWGC headstones actually have the named body interred beneath.

Probably the graves from rear area casualty clearing stations and hospitals were well-recorded, but the battlefield interments would have been forensically very challenging - as mentioned in the essay.

I've often wondered whether they just knocked out a batch of headstones to match a given casualty list for an area, just so that it gave the impression to the public that the recovery process was much more effective than it really was.
 

ugly

LE
Moderator
#4
Makes you speculate as to what % of those CWGC headstones actually have the named body interred beneath.

Probably the graves from rear area casualty clearing stations and hospitals were well-recorded, but the battlefield interments would have been forensically very challenging - as mentioned in the essay.

I've often wondered whether they just knocked out a batch of headstones to match a given casualty list for an area, just so that it gave the impression to the public that the recovery process was much more effective than it really was.
I have often thought that too. It cant have been easy identifying the dead when the area was fought over again and again, grave sites were blown up and some must have been impossible.
 
#5
There is an appendix to the book 'No Labour No Battle' by Starling and Lee that describes the methods used and the way the units were formed. Again very interesting.
 

ugly

LE
Moderator
#6
I can imagine that the desire to get back to work at home would have been fairly strong. I always assumed the grave robbers were (pardon my expression) pioneers or labour units.
Edited to add, reading the full article it seems there wasn't a shortage of volunteers.
 
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#7
The CO of No68 Labour Company wrote what became the manual and that corps provided the majority of the manpower while the war was on. After the Armistice a lot of work was done by volunteers on one year contracts.
 

Trilby

Clanker
Book Reviewer
#8
After the Armistice a lot of work was done by volunteers on one year contracts.
Yes; I researched a man who did exactly that, in his case in spite of having been discharged from the service only three months before and subsequently pensioned in consideration of 40% disablement from a ruptured tendon.
 
#9

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