A personal commemoration.

A personal commemoration.

Postby iainpeden on Mon 01 Oct 2018, 4:28 pm

Over the weekend I took the opportunity to visit (for the second time) my great-uncle’s grave in the extension to the Noyelles-sur Escaut communal cemetery just to the south-west of Cambrai.

Thomas Alexander Greenfield died on the 29th September 1918, just 3 days after his 19th birthday and rests in the cemetery with 114 of his comrades who all died on the final assault on the Siegfried (Hindenburg) Line on or about that date.

ImageFrance September 18 022 by Iain Peden, on Flickr

ImageFrance September 18 026 by Iain Peden, on Flickr

ImageFrance September 18 036 by Iain Peden, on Flickr

Although I have visited the area before the extent of the front line and the scale of slaughter is impossible to understand and always seems to raise more questions; for example I had never realised that the battle of Cambrai in late 1917, essentially the first in which tanks were used was in the exact area in which Tom died.

I have included a few other pictures taken over the weekend. A tank dug up in 1998 and now displayed in a bunker next to the CWGC site at Flesquieres Hill ,a grave stone commemorating one of the Chinese Labour Corps at Orival Wood and a picture taken inside the Wellington Caverns at Arras where over 20000 troops were kept hidden before one of the Arras offensives.
ImageWP_20180929_13_53_56_Pro by Iain Peden, on Flickr

ImageWP_20180929_12_48_37_Pro by Iain Peden, on Flickr

ImageWP_20180928_11_51_29_Pro by Iain Peden, on Flickr

The National Necropolis of Notre-Dame-de-Lorette holds the remains of 40000 French soldiers – 20000 graves and 20000 in an ossuary– it’s about 10 miles north of Arras and within sight of the Canadian Memorial at Vimy Ridge.

As impressive/shocking/thought provoking as the site is, a new installation is stunning: a ring about 50 metres across inside which are concertinaed bronze name plaques about 2.5 metres high. There are 580000 names engraved of soldiers - British, Canadian German, French, Belgian, Portuguese and Russian – who died on the Pas-de-Calais/Nord area – simply in alphabetical order with no national divisions. I think it brought home to me, despite all the films, statistics etc I have seen, the total futility and carnage of that war.


ImageWP_20180929_15_59_59_Pro by Iain Peden, on Flickr

ImageWP_20180929_15_59_46_Pro by Iain Peden, on Flickr

ImageWP_20180929_15_56_06_Pro by Iain Peden, on Flickr
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iainpeden

Re: A personal commemoration.

Postby Wrexham Mackem on Mon 01 Oct 2018, 4:49 pm

Very sobering, and very poignant. Thanks for posting Iain.
What a futile waste of life the first world war was.
its time to kick the tyres and light the fires

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Wrexham Mackem
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Re: A personal commemoration.

Postby AlexC on Tue 02 Oct 2018, 5:00 pm

Sadly all my great-uncle has is his name on the Tyne-Cot memorial wall. He probably ended up lost in the Flanders blue clay as so many did.
Pte. Aubrey Gerald Harmer, R. Suss. R. (att. to the Sherwood Foresters) KIA 26/9/1917 Polygon Wood, aged 19, NKG. RIP
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AlexC

Re: A personal commemoration.

Postby iainpeden on Tue 02 Oct 2018, 6:13 pm

Alex
Your uncle's name will also be wall at the National Necropolis of Notre-Dame-de-Lorette just north of Arras.

I don't know if you have ever visited the area - I went to Tyne Cot last May and then went on to Soissons to commemorate my wife's great uncle who died at Chemin de Dames in 1918 - but it is a real expereince in so many ways.

The way in which all the museums and memorials are presented are a credit to all who look after them.

All the best
Iain
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iainpeden

Re: A personal commemoration.

Postby CJS on Tue 02 Oct 2018, 6:48 pm

Thanks for posting these Iain. I'm studying WW1 with my class this term; trying to get the gravitas of it across to 8 year olds isn't easy, but so so important.

Lest we forget...
"Forewarned is forearmed"
How do you know I didn't?
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CJS

Re: A personal commemoration.

Postby AlexC on Tue 02 Oct 2018, 7:30 pm

iainpeden wrote:I don't know if you have ever visited the area - I went to Tyne Cot last May and then went on to Soissons to commemorate my wife's great uncle who died at Chemin de Dames in 1918 - but it is a real expereince in so many ways.


I visited Ypres and the surrounding area about ten years ago now. Hard to believe today that the town was totally destroyed during that terrible war.
Pte. Aubrey Gerald Harmer, R. Suss. R. (att. to the Sherwood Foresters) KIA 26/9/1917 Polygon Wood, aged 19, NKG. RIP
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AlexC


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