Tuesday, 11 November 2014
Eleven Eleven Eleven
Remembrance Day was Sunday but today is the actual anniversary of the armistice that ended the First World War, eleven o'clock, the eleventh of November. I was at The Somme and Ypres at the start of October. The cemeteries are full of gravestones like this one- the body of a man who was not identified.
This is a picture I took at Ljissenhoek cemetery, near Ypres. There are 10, 775 graves here. The cemetery was next to a field hospital, so unusually almost all the graves here have names, as the wounded were tagged or identified. It is also an incredibly diverse cemetery containing the graves of British, French, American and German soldiers, men from the Chinese Labour Corps, one of only two women buried in the military cemeteries (nurse Nellie Spindler) and the highest ranking casualty, a Canadian General, within it.
The numbers of the dead, wounded and missing can become too big to fully comprehend. It becomes much closer to home when you dig a little into the records and find the name of a man who has a local interest, your street or town or workplace. Many of these men were either volunteers or conscripts (willing or unwilling) who found themselves caught up in something much bigger than themselves and way outside what they knew. We found the grave of a nineteen year old, Joseph Smithies Entwistle of Darwen, a gunner in the Tank Corps. He died of wounds in 1917, aged just 19. His home address is a three minute walk from the school where I work. Students from the school are his near neighbours, a hundred years apart.