Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Looking for loved ones in the Battlefields of the Somme

Rachel came to stay at the weekend! J and I had already decided that we were going to visit some of the WW1 battlefields and memorials but what we didn't realise is that Rachel had lost two family members in the Great War.

We first visited Thiepval British memorial for the missing. Here there are 72,000 names carved onto a memorial to honour those whose body was never found.

Then we visited the lochnagar mine in La Boisselle which is a site of an enormous explosion on 1st July 1916. The huge crater brings it home the horrors that must have happened over 90 years ago.

At this point Rachel had got in touch with her family who were able to tell her exactly where her family members were buried and after looking at the map, we realised it was totally possible to go and find them. Both uncles were buried in small cemetaries in small villages and as ever with war graves, they were incredibly well kept. It was the first time that anyone from her family had seen the graves and I was very happy to have made it possible for her.

It was a beautiful day, and so moving in many ways. Reading the dedications in the cemetery register was choking. These cemeteries are often totally empty. We pass them in the car often and have never seen anyone in them and yet the register proves that people come in great numbers from all over the world on a regular basis. So wonderful to know that the soldiers have not been forgotten.
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1 comment:

Rachel said...

thank you both so much for making it possible! just got back from seeing my two grandmas and they were both overcome at seeing the photos of the graves and knowing that the cemeteries themselves are so beautifully kept and in what it now such a peaceful place.

if you're interested in seeing if you've got any family there, have a look on the War Graves Commission website, that's what mom used. you'll have to do some cross-checking against family records but you never know


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