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13 November 2014

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The grave of a Victoria Cross winner.

The grave of a Victoria Cross winner.

Family loss

Matt, from the Chase High School in Malvern, writes about the families who lost more than one member in the Great War.

I went to Belgium with my school on the July 7 2008 - we did this to look at the cemeteries and memorials of the First World War.

The grave of a Victoria Cross winner.

The grave of a Victoria Cross winner.

What got me the most was the differences in the way that countries remembered their fallen.

The British remembered their fallen by a white gravestone with their name, rank, age, regiment and their regiment's crest.

German gravestone

Grave from Langemarck German Cemetery

This is only true for those who they could name - those who where unnamed were given a white grave stone, but on it were the words "Here lies a solider of the Great War, whose name is known only onto God".

This is in comparison to the German soldiers, who got a black slab, where there were 16 names in total.

There were no flowers - there were just trees, and there was also a mass grave in the middle.

The information on the grave slabs was very basic - there was only the soldier's names and their ID number. There was no age and no regimental information.

We went to the Menin Gate - on the gate there were 54,896 names, all of soldiers that they have never found, or who have no known graves.

Matt Johnstone

Matt Johnstone

We also went to the Thiepval memorial, where there were over 73,000 names, and there was also a cemetery behind it.

All in all the trip was very moving, and at some of the places we visited there was so many graves that you couldn't believe that they had all died in the same area.

At some points you would see brothers lying next to each other in the cemetery.

There where also fathers and sons buried next to each other.

This must have really hit the people back at home, because some mothers lost their husbands and their sons.

The trip on a whole I would recommend to everyone, and I believe that all schools should run a trip like this, to show people like me what happened, and how things could have been different if we hadn't won the war.

I also believe that I was very lucky to go on this trip, to see all the sites and all graves of those men who fought to keep our way of life. 

If you have an interesting story about World War 1, involving a member of your family, we'd love to hear it.


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last updated: 16/10/2008 at 10:14
created: 11/09/2008

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