Burying the dead

Discussion in 'General' started by RosyRedd, Jul 9, 2010.

  1. 379/101 HAA

    379/101 HAA Ubique

    Well I would have to agree with Steve about the CWGC with regard to them being polite. They are always courteuous and respectful. My only reservation is that one feels that they are holding back on certain things and quite why they are prepared to tell you they have a record of something, but then don`t want next of kin to see it, I don`t understand. As has been suggested some sort of protocol perhaps. I can also quite understand they are probably swamped by these kind of requests and have very limited staff, so perhaps another reason they don`t want to get into copying paperwork etc.

    Basically all my family wanted to know was when my Grandfather was buried and by whom. It`s difficult to accept you won`t get any further whilst holding the suspicion that such details are perhaps being withheld.

    I also asked is if they could tell me if it was policy when exhuming these poor souls whether the people employed by the CWGC laid them to rest again in the same manner, i.e. laid down. But they never even responded to that question.

    Yes it may seem a macbre question, but his sisters were both very religious (still alive) and wanted to know if he had been laid to rest in a Christian manner. I naively thought he would be but some of the threads on this forum suggest that he would have not been reburied laid out. I guess this is why the graves at Taukkyan are in the form they are, but they (the CWGC), never confirmed this.

    Anyway, time may tell.

    Steve & Barbara, good luck with your trip and thanks to all who`ve replied.


  2. canuck

    canuck Closed Account

    A perspective on the subject from
    Capt. Sydney Valpy Radley-Walters - Sherbrooke Fusiliers

    "Rad also sought to protect the welfare of his soldiers by
    controlling, to a certain extent, the tasks that they performed.
    After particularly arduous engagements, the regiment routinely
    salvaged damaged tanks from the battlefield in order
    that they might be put back in service. Those in worse condition
    were sometimes scavenged for parts. Much of this was
    grisly work, as many contained human remains in various
    states of recognition and dismemberment. After one particularly
    trying episode, in which the body of one of his soldiers
    was unconventionally extracted, Rad decided that, no matter
    how badly his squadron required tanks, his soldiers were not
    to concern themselves with the removal of what remained
    inside. He told his men soon thereafter, “…[to] just leave it
    alone ... just do your own business in your own tank, and
    that’s it, save life in your own tank, but don’t wander around
    trying to do other things. There’s people that are coming
    behind that can do all of that....”
    6 Here, Rad had in mind the
    padres, stretcher-bearers, impressed German prisoners and
    others who were responsible for supporting those who fought.
    Rad realized that it was best to avoid handling and interring
    human remains. It was already hard enough to have lost
    one’s friends, and such activities, although necessary, only
    made matters worse. In his opinion, the aim was ‘to keep the
    fighters fighting,’ and that meant ensuring that despondency
    did not get the better of them. He naturally allowed them to
    pay respects in their own way and as a given situation best
    dictated – not allowing them to do so
    could have been equally damaging – but
    he generally discouraged intimacy. In this,
    Rad made a conscious decision to shield
    his soldiers from unnecessary trauma;
    there was already enough of that to go
    around. Preventing his men from participating
    in such gruesome activities ensured
    that they remained focused upon the tasks
    at hand. His soldiers’ mental well-being, so he reasoned,
    would not be well served by salvaging damaged tanks. If the
    regiment did the fighting, then others, for lack of a better
    phrase, “…could clean up the mess.”

  3. JJS

    JJS Senior Member

    Very interesting thread. It has made my mind go where it had so far been reluctant to travel!

    My great uncle - James Johnson Roberts - was KIA at the Somme with no known grave and my 2nd cousin - James Johnson Sharrock - was KIA at Arnhem with no known grave.

    I had been reluctant to imagine why they were unknown graves and had just tried to put it down to details being lost in the chaos of war. Or that they had been buried in a rush in mass graves and then unidentifiable.

    I have done a lot of research recently on Jim Sharrock and have a great deal of information for him, thanks mainly to the people on this site who have been an enormous help. It has been more difficult to get any information on my great uncle.

    I was having trouble, in my head, with why they couldn't identify them by their tags, I thought thats what they were for! But things are a bit clearer now.

    Perhaps, sometimes, we are better off not knowing.


    Thanks for the post.


Share This Page