12 November 2008

Memento Mori

I had all these bright ideas yesterday, when I was listening to the conference speakers, but somewhere between then and now it disappeared into the ether..never to be seen again.

So instead, I give you 'Remember you are mortal'

During the conference, we held a two minute silence at 11am, which was nice to see; though I would rather see Armistice Day become a new bank holiday as it deserves a special moment of thanks as we see fewer and fewer veterans of the Great War.

Linked to this : when SOH and I were down with his family in Cornwall, SOH-Dad showed me some details of his Uncle Harold Dawe, who sadly died in France in early Oct 1917. SOH-DAD provided me with visual copies of the papers received, including the letter saying he was killed in action, also a letter from the pensions office. This information included his rank, army number, regiment and I am now trying to find out a little more about him.

On to the war graves site, only to no avail, the only gentlemen on there were either not in the right regiment or were not on the right date having been killed earlier in the war.

I had a breakthrough when I queried the dates involved, as this was Passchendaele or the third Ypres offensive, and so far I have 'interrogated' a number of websites trying to find out a little more information.

I have also contacted the war graves commission with the information I have as many of the WW1 records were lost in the blitz bombing of London in WW11 and it may well be that his details were lost at this point in time; but hopefully they will come back with yet more information than I have currently.

It is equally valid to say that as this was a difficult time just after the heat of battle and many men were buried without the details being kept for identification; partially the numbers of men involved and the conditions of the battleground.

If Harold is known, buried etc, it is likely to be at the Tyne Cot cemetery which was first used in October 1917 when one of several German blockhouses on the Passchendaele Ridge was captured by the British Army on 4th October 1917 and then and used as an Advanced Dressing Station. As a result of this there were some 350 burials in the vicinity of the Dressing Station between then and the end of March 1918.

This photograph is taken from the high ground of the Passchendaele Ridge, looking south-west towards Ypres. This was the dominating view over the northern part of the Ypres Salient which the Germans had from the Passchenaele Ridge as the Allied soldiers tried to approach them during the Third Battle of Ypres (Battle of Passchendaele) 31 July - 10 November 1917.

The cemetery is the last resting place of more than 12,000 soldiers from Oct 1914 to September 1918. Many were reburied when the cemetery was enlarged after the cessation of hostilities and many of the gravestones are engraved with no-known name only 'an unknown soldier of the great war'.

I have one more casualty I am still trying to find out more details on, and that is my Great Uncle Charlie who also died during WW1 but we don't have any details on which regiment he was with, where he died in the field of conflict nor when so it is an uphil struggle and may not even be known.


Elaine said...

I wish you well with your search. Apart from the immediate historical importance, it is always fascinating researching into family backgrounds.

Rae!xx said...

Good luck with your search, I must admit I find it all very fascinating but fear if I started looking into things myself I would never get anything done..xx

Janet said...

I hope you can find some information. I'm surprised to find Remembrance Day is not a holiday there. Banks and the post office and a lot of schools close here.

Sheila said...

It's those graveyards that touch my heart - so many gravestones, lines of them stretching so far and each one a young life.

The W.O.W. factor said...

Sage, it's so sad that so many lives were lost, so many unidentified! Those cemetaries with "Unknown" on the stones have always saddened me.
Good luck in your searching. I'd love to learn more about my ancestors, but there doesn't seem to be enough people before me who cared or kept track of data.
Keep us posted!
{Hugs to you my dear Friend!}