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 One Family at War

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Visiting War Graves

Travelling around France one becomes aware in certain areas of reminders of the two world wars. 
Not so much of the second world war except for notable structures like the German pile box defences on the coast, the respectful references to the invasion in Normandy and the occasional left over bits of German installation or destruction as they retreated. 
However if travelling through a area starting from Calais and running South and then South East then one will continually encounter signs referring to War Graves from the first world war. These may be for many nations including Britain and the Commonwealth. They may be separate graveyards by the roadside or on the side of a hill or they may be an extension to a town or village communal graveyard. They are everywhere, a poignant reminders that a battlefield is nearby and that many lived and died under terrible conditions.

Visiting war graves is an awesome experience. On the one hand, one is deeply saddening to see so many graves of so many young men. At one graveyard, we saw a whole row of gravestones all marked with the same date except the stone with no date and no name, one of the unknown soldiers. “Known unto God”. 

On the other hand, one is grateful to those that work to ensure that the graves are there and cared for and have made the effort to record as much data as possible.
 Every Graveyard has a list of those buried there and detailed information is available on the internet. A visitor’s book is available and it is noteworthy that there are still regular contributions.
Leaving such a place, one is convinced of the importance of the war graves as memorials and reminders of the futility of war and yet is devastated by the realisation that need for war seems to continue. Why did so many have to die and for what ?

R.G. 2006 October