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Attempt to identify WWI officer
BBC ^ | 28 May, 2005 | na

Posted on 05/30/2005 5:51:27 AM PDT by Flavius

Efforts are being made to identify the well-preserved body of a World War I soldier found at Passchendaele.

The curator from the site's memorial museum believes the man was an officer with the UK's Lancashire Fusiliers.

On Monday, the man's body will be handed to the Belgian authorities with a specialist UK team to be called in to identify him so he can be buried.

Nearly half a million men died at Passchendaele, near Ypres, in 1917, in one of the war's bloodiest battles.

Museum curator Franky Bostyn said the man had a silver cigarette case, a wristwatch and leather equipment that suggested he was an officer.

"He was in a shell hole, wrapped in his gas cape and when we carefully removed that we saw the whole body was completely preserved," he said.

"He was lying there on his side, a little bit like a baby is, so not in a straight line. He was not buried, just thrown in, but he had his full equipment on him."

Bodies are still uncovered now, nearly nine decades after the fighting stopped.

They are often difficult to identify in the absence of regimental insignia or other clues.


TOPICS: News/Current Events; United Kingdom
KEYWORDS: canadiantroops; militaryhistory; passchendaele; uktroops; wwi

1 posted on 05/30/2005 5:51:27 AM PDT by Flavius
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To: Flavius
The Great War.

Described (by George Will, as I recall) as "Young men trying to wear out machine guns with their chests".

2 posted on 05/30/2005 5:57:57 AM PDT by DuncanWaring (The Lord uses the good ones; the bad ones use the Lord.)
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To: DuncanWaring

"The Great War.

Described (by George Will, as I recall) as "Young men trying to wear out machine guns with their chests".

I had a great uncle who was a Canadian cavalry officer in WWI. He once described to me the effects of machinegun fire on the first and only cavalry charge he participated in during the war. He said they were cut to ribbons and to the day he died at nearly ninety he wondered how he had ever survived. Another great uncle came home in 1919 to die from having been gassed and lived another 66 years. He wouldn't talk about the war until one day in the 1960s I was home from school sitting in his kitchen with him when he started to talk...and talk and talk, about the Marne River running red with blood and the fellow next to him in a battle being vaporized and him not getting a scratch. Other uncles and a grandfather had similar stories, in fact my grandfather carried pieces of German shrapnel with him to his grave. It was a horrible war whose effects are still felt in Europe and by extension the whole world to this day.


3 posted on 05/30/2005 6:26:06 AM PDT by Kolokotronis (Christ is Risen, and you, o death, are annihilated!)
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To: Kolokotronis

It was also the last war in which the majority of combatants were literate. Sad, isn't it.


4 posted on 05/30/2005 7:54:30 AM PDT by AntiBurr ("You cannot play the song of freedom on an instrument of oppression"--S.J. Lec)
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To: AntiBurr; Agrarian; Tantumergo
"It was also the last war in which the majority of combatants were literate. Sad, isn't it" Your comment put me in mind of Joyce Kilmer and Robert Service. I wonder if kids in school these days still memorize and recite their poetry?

O God, take the sun from the sky!
It's burning me, scorching me up.
God, can't You hear my cry?
Water! A poor, little cup!
It's laughing, the cursed sun!
See how it swells and swells
Fierce as a hundred hells!
God, will it never have done?
It's searing the flesh on my bones;
It's beating with hammers red
My eyeballs into my head;
It's parching my very moans.
See! It's the size of the sky,
And the sky is a torrent of fire,
Foaming on me as I lie
Here on the wire . . . the wire. . . .

Of the thousands that wheeze and hum
Heedlessly over my head,
Why can't a bullet come,
Pierce to my brain instead,
Blacken forever my brain,
Finish forever my pain?
Here in the hellish glare
Why must I suffer so?
Is it God doesn't care?
Is it God doesn't know?
Oh, to be killed outright,
Clean in the clash of the fight!
That is a golden death,
That is a boon; but this . . .
Drawing an anguished breath
Under a hot abyss,
Under a stooping sky
Of seething, sulphurous fire,
Scorching me up as I lie
Here on the wire . . . the wire. . . .

Hasten, O God, Thy night!
Hide from my eyes the sight
Of the body I stare and see
Shattered so hideously.
I can't believe that it's mine.
My body was white and sweet,
Flawless and fair and fine,
Shapely from head to feet;
Oh no, I can never be
The thing of horror I see
Under the rifle fire,
Trussed on the wire . . . the wire. . . .

Of night and of death I dream;
Night that will bring me peace,
Coolness and starry gleam,
Stillness and death's release:
Ages and ages have passed, --
Lo! it is night at last.
Night! but the guns roar out.
Night! but the hosts attack.
Red and yellow and black
Geysers of doom upspout.
Silver and green and red
Star-shells hover and spread.
Yonder off to the right
Fiercely kindles the fight;
Roaring near and more near,
Thundering now in my ear;
Close to me, close . . . Oh, hark!
Someone moans in the dark.
I hear, but I cannot see,
I hear as the rest retire,
Someone is caught like me,
Caught on the wire . . . the wire. . . .

Again the shuddering dawn,
Weird and wicked and wan;
Again, and I've not yet gone.
The man whom I heard is dead.
Now I can understand:
A bullet hole in his head,
A pistol gripped in his hand.
Well, he knew what to do, --
Yes, and now I know too. . . .

Hark the resentful guns!
Oh , how thankful am I
To think my beloved ones
Will never know how I die!
I've suffered more than my share;
I'm shattered beyond repair;
I've fought like a man the fight,
And now I demand the right
(God! how his fingers cling!)
To do without shame this thing.
Good! there's a bullet still;
Now I'm ready to fire;
Blame me, God, if You will,
Here on the wire . . . the wire. . . .

5 posted on 05/30/2005 8:19:25 AM PDT by Kolokotronis (Christ is Risen, and you, o death, are annihilated!)
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To: Kolokotronis
Kilmer was in my mind when I posted this also.

No, poetry memorization like the multiplication tables requres "rote learning" which, according to "education experts" is bad.
I carry a fair bit of that baggage around with me, but couldn't hold a candle to my mother, who used to quote Longfellow by the hour...By the shores of Gitchee Goomee, by the shining big sea water....as well as many many others. We used to toss alternate verses of Kipling's Barrack Room ballads back and forth just for fun.
I doubt if many do that anymore. This too is sad. It also shows in the quality of writing I see everywhere, including Free Republic.

6 posted on 05/30/2005 10:05:50 AM PDT by AntiBurr ("You cannot play the song of freedom on an instrument of oppression"--S.J. Lec)
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To: Kolokotronis
My grandfather served in WWI and was gassed on the last day of the war, in Mont-devant-Sassey in the Meuse. He recovered and lived to the age of 85.

A couple of years ago, we traveled to France to travel in his "bootsteps" (and those of my husband's relatives who also served). Researching the battles and campaigns was a real education. It amazes me that the present-day media are bemoaning the casualties in Iraq (seven U.S. soldiers died in May!!!), when tens of thousands were lost in a few moments' time in some of the horrendously bloody battles of WWI.

7 posted on 05/30/2005 10:13:13 AM PDT by mountaineer
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To: AntiBurr
The poetry which came out of the Great War, like that piece I posted from Service, was truly extraordinary. When I read your post, I went into the books in the den and pulled out my Robert Service. Reading that poem brought back so many memories of the old soldiers in my family who had such an influence on me was a child and young man.

I suppose that old fashioned education I had did leave a mark. I can still recite Hiawatha, the Midnight Ride of Paul Revere and much of Service, Kipling and Frost. As a trial lawyer I use them in opening and closing arguments. Juries and judges seem to like it, though I have been accused of being Rumpolesque on occasion!
8 posted on 05/30/2005 10:58:21 AM PDT by Kolokotronis (Christ is Risen, and you, o death, are annihilated!)
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To: Kolokotronis
You have an advantage in that your vocation stimulates the use of memory. As a miner and electrician, it is more difficult for me to recall much of what I once knew. However, the following excerpt may revive a memory for you:

Beneath, in the churchyard lay the dead
In their night encampment on the hill
Wrapped in silence so deep and still
You could hear like a sentinel's tread
the watchful night wind as it went
creeping along from tent to tent.
And the moonlight flowing over all.

My grandfather lies in the Wadsworth National Cemetery at Leavenworth, KS. The plain white stone is marked simply:
Marion Brubaker
Sp Am War
Whenever I visit there, I am always impressed with the peaceful beauty of the scene and another verse runs in my mind:

IN FLANDERS FIELDS the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
Lt.Col John McRae

9 posted on 05/30/2005 2:51:57 PM PDT by AntiBurr ("You cannot play the song of freedom on an instrument of oppression"--S.J. Lec)
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To: mountaineer

I well understand your feelings. I have tried to find the area where the skirmishing took place that resulted in the death of my great grandfather. (only one g there) It is somewhere along the Black River in southern Missouri. The small campaign in November of '62 caused his death from pneumonia in January at St. Louis. Yes, it was 1863 and he was a private in Co. G, 26th IA Vol Inf. His brother served through Vicksburg and another served through the war and died on his way home, but he was Confederate.


10 posted on 05/30/2005 3:03:34 PM PDT by AntiBurr ("You cannot play the song of freedom on an instrument of oppression"--S.J. Lec)
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To: Flavius
I wrote this Memorial day 2003:

 AT ARLINGTON

At Arlington, this special day
The morning sun lights every cross
Beneath each cross a hero lay
'Tis heavens gain, though countries loss

Once full of life and young men's dreams
They listened to their countries call
And faced the battles mournful screams
Then rallied forth and gave their all

The least we do now, humbly pray,
And hold them in our memories
Those fighting still, those gone away
At Arlington we honor these

So let the trumpets sound aloud
As we salute with flag and sword
And though with tears, we stand here proud
In peace they stand before their Lord.

11 posted on 05/30/2005 3:17:22 PM PDT by fish hawk (I am only one, but I am not the only one.)
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To: Flavius

For a very interesting continuation of this subject try www.TheDiggers.be


12 posted on 05/30/2005 4:02:28 PM PDT by RocketWolf
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To: DuncanWaring

A friend of mine's Grandfather was in the US Army during WWI. The Grandfather had a picture of his company taken at their graduation of basic training which he gave to my friend. When he presented my friend the framed picture, he said, "That's me there, and that other fellow here is the other guy that survived the war." Out of a company of nearly 200 young men, 2 survived.

WWI is a war that should have never been fought. It is a war that will go down in history as an absolutely tragic waste of humanity and a predecessor to a worse tragedy. Because of the stupid mistakes before, during, and after WWI, WWII became a war that had to be won at any cost.

Typically, no lessons were learned from the aftermath of WWI and Stalin was allowed to spread his insane reign of terror past the borders of Russia to Eastern Europe, the Baltic States, and eventually Korea and Viet Nam.

I've come to the conclusion that anyone wanting to be a politician should have at least a masters degree in world history.


13 posted on 05/30/2005 4:28:35 PM PDT by Tailback (USAF distinguished rifleman badge #300, German Schutzenschnur in Gold)
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To: Tailback
I've come to the conclusion that anyone wanting to be a politician should have at least a masters degree in world history.

... and in-depth study of the United States Constitution!

14 posted on 05/30/2005 4:56:40 PM PDT by Gritty ("On balance, 'Europe' is an indulgence the real Europe can't afford - Mark Steyn)
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To: Gritty
and in-depth study of the United States Constitution!

Amen Brother!
15 posted on 05/30/2005 4:58:36 PM PDT by Tailback (USAF distinguished rifleman badge #300, German Schutzenschnur in Gold)
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To: mountaineer

My Grandfather was also gassed {at the Marne} and it affected his health to the point he died a young man leaving a wife and 4 young children. I went to his gravesite with one of those children [my mother] this weekend to clean his grave and my fathers [a WWII vet] and it was very sobering and wonderful to see so many people at the cemetary remembering and caring for the dead. Today I was proud to have my youngest Girl play Taps at our town Memorial Day service and to see the majority of the people in town show up at the service to pay tribute to our fallen heroes. It's the folks from small town America who remember and honor them always. God Bless America!


16 posted on 05/30/2005 5:15:35 PM PDT by ABN 505
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To: Flavius
For The Fallen With proud thanksgiving, a mother for her children, England mourns for her dead across the sea. Flesh of her flesh they were, spirit of her spirit, Fallen in the cause of the free.

Solemn the drums thrill; Death august and royal Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres, There is music in the midst of desolation And a glory that shines upon our tears.

They went with songs to the battle, they were young, Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow. They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted; They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old: Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning We will remember them.

They mingle not with their laughing comrades again; They sit no more at familiar tables of home; They have no lot in our labour of the day-time; They sleep beyond England's foam.

But where our desires are and our hopes profound, Felt as a well-spring that is hidden from sight, To the innermost heart of their own land they are known As the stars are known to the Night;

As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust, Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain; As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness, To the end, to the end, they remain.

Laurence Binyon (1869-1943)

I did not know the poem was that long,but remember how how some unnamed British staff was supposed to have said " my god did we really send out men to fight in that?" in regards to Passchendaele

17 posted on 05/30/2005 5:19:51 PM PDT by Charlespg (Civilization and freedom are only worthy of those who defend or support defending It)
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To: Charlespg
Staff Officer!
18 posted on 05/30/2005 5:23:16 PM PDT by Charlespg (Civilization and freedom are only worthy of those who defend or support defending It)
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To: mountaineer
It amazes me that the present-day media are bemoaning the casualties in Iraq (seven U.S. soldiers died in May!!!), when tens of thousands were lost in a few moments' time in some of the horrendously bloody battles of WWI.

It's easy to propagandize stupid, illiterate people...

I was watching a History Channel piece on Pearl Harbor earlier today, and I suddenly realized that I've seen more Pearl Harbor footage in the last four years than I have seen footage of 9/11.

Think about it.

19 posted on 05/30/2005 8:32:01 PM PDT by an amused spectator (If Social Security isn't broken, then cut me a check for the cash I have into it.)
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To: Kolokotronis
It was a horrible war whose effects are still felt in Europe and by extension the whole world to this day.

Europe is skilled and experienced at mass slaughter "World Wars are our specialty!". It'll be interesting to see how Europe does the next Crusades against the Moos. I bet they wimp out and roll over.

20 posted on 05/30/2005 8:36:36 PM PDT by Hank Rearden (Never allow anyone who could only get a government job attempt to tell you how to run your life.)
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To: Kolokotronis

Thanks. I haven't read that particular Service piece in a while, and it's quite appropriate for today.


21 posted on 05/30/2005 8:37:06 PM PDT by an amused spectator (If Social Security isn't broken, then cut me a check for the cash I have into it.)
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To: Tailback

"I've come to the conclusion that anyone wanting to be a politician should have at least a masters degree in world history."

That sounds like a great idea but....
The problem there lies in the reality that most college history departments are unabashedly liberal so the politicians will be taught accordingly.


22 posted on 05/30/2005 8:41:56 PM PDT by ArmedNReady (Islam, the Cancer on Humanity.)
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