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Peter's Travels - The First World War Battlefields 

 September 2002 - Afternoon Day One

From Essex Farm we drove to the German Cemetery at Langemark - a complete contrast to the British cemeteries.

For understandable reasons the German troops were given very little land in which to bury their dead. As a consequence Langemark contains mass burial sites with commemoration stones placed along the ground rather than in the British individual way.

Perhaps this illustrates more than anything the futility of the war. Langemark contains a memorial containing the names of thousands of university students who are buried there. Students of philosophy, students of medicine, students of the arts and science. They were encouraged to join up on the promise that the war would be over by September in time for their return to college!

We must never forget that it wasn't just the British who lost a generation during the Great War. Langemark is a memorial to this fact. The Kameradengrab is a large Azalea bed containing the remains of 28,834 men.

The picture above left shows how the fallen Germans are commemorated at Langemark in a large area of open countryside. Compare this to the individual enclosed garden burials of the British troops.

The remainder of the afternoon was full of stories of heroism including Vancouver Corner with its commemoration of the Canadian war effort, the Commonwealth war graves at Tyne Cot and Sanctuary Wood. Tyne Cot has the greatest number of bodies in a Commonwealth war cemetery. There are 11,908 graves to the known dead. On curved walls at the back are recorded the names of 34,888 men with no known grave from after August 16th, 1917 to the end of the war.

And at the back is another cemetery where New Zealand commemorate their own missing.

All had their own stories to tell, their own places to play in the history of the Great War.

In many areas ammunition is still being dug up - well over 80 years after the war ended. Workmen have obviously become so used to this that they just leave anything found at the side of the field ready to eventually be picked up.

We came across the following: