The Gravediggers’ Work

Naturally, everything connected with World War I had to be done on a massive

Graves being prepared to receive the bodies of soldiers

Graves being prepared to receive the bodies of soldiers

scale. Everything we could think of used in the war came in huge quantities and numbers.

Today, not many Americans visit many of the cemeteries that populate the landscape where battles were fought in the war. Thus, it is likely that the work that went into creating those final resting places for the soldiers of many nations is barely known. While burial had its gruesome parts, it also expressed the nobility of those who keep the cemeteries to honor the sacrifices the man who lay in them made.

Naturally, having visited many World War I military cemeteries, and, since I am writing about the war again, I will have my Gravedigger out of Hamlet guide us through the tragedy of the burial fields.

The military museum in Peronne, France, where much fighting took place, it being part of the Somme battlefield, shows a motion picture, maybe eight minutes long, of a burial squad working just outside of the battlefield. I was touched by both the “everydayness” of the work, and the solemn way it was carried out.

For more, see World War I Cemeteries.

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