WWI: Finding the Lost Battalions

On Monday night there was a television documentary on called WWI: Finding the Lost Battalions, regarding attempts to identify the recently discovered bodies of around 250 British and Australian troops who died during the brutal Battle of Fromelles.

in July 1916, half way through the First World war and who had been buried in unmarked communal graves.

This process had been made more difficult by the fact that most formal identification had been taken from the bodies mostly by the Germans, who had forwards this on to the Red Cross, so that the families of the dead could be informed that their husband, lover or child had fallen and lay amongst the bodies of his comrades in a foreign field.

Hence, in addition to DNA testing, it was necessary to examine other objects which had lain with the bodies for almost a hundred years.

One particularly poignant item, amongst many, was a tiny leather pouch in the shape of a heart, which when the century old stitches were painstakingly unpicked, revealed its long concealed contents, what remained of a lock of hair. The tiny item, evidence of a love torn apart by that cruel war, had been carried into battle by the object of that love and then it had lain with him throughout that century and into the next.

A small fragile token of a love long forgotten, shared by lovers now long dead, but with the power to touch us now in another time and in another world.

As the process continued and as bones were identified families were contacted and notified that the remains of grandfathers, great grandfathers, and in the case of one woman in her late 90’s, the father she had never known had been found.

It was then that the grey and sepia tinted photographs of fresh, handsome and achingly young faces were taken from boxes, passed down through families and stored away in attics, and the stories of those brave young heroes sacrificed so young and in such great numbers, so very long ago, began to be told.

We heard in their own words as their views changes as they realised what they were facing. "It'll be rather fun out there," Lt Charles Phipps, who died aged 20, assured his family in one letter home before heading to France. But a later note told of "the horrible smell of dead bodies in the trenches". The cameras followed Lt Phipps' great-niece, Fenella Tillier, as she travelled to Fromelles to stand on the very trench where he died - then later found his name on a war memorial. "Life isn't fair - and what was it all for?" she wondered aloud, and many of us watching will have wondered the same.

Another story was of a young man called Robert, born in Scotland but raised in Australia, and fighting for the Empire in an Australian regiment. Together with Robert’s own great niece, we read his letters to his mother revealing the excitement of a boy embarking on the adventure that would be his brief but bold manhood. Then we read the letters his hauntingly beautiful fiancĂ© Nancy had sent to her would be mother in law, expressing her grief at the loss of “her boy” and how much she had loved him.

Nancy’s letters had ceased shortly after the war, but the programme traced her and found that she had lived to a sturdy and handsome middle age, married a butcher and named one of her two sons Robert. As the name did not feature in either her, or her husband’s family, we can only surmise that he was named for her lost love, and wonder, with the other Robert’s great niece, whether the husband knew the reason for the choice, or whether it was a secret Nancy hid within her heart.

From Britain alone there are millions of such stories. So many young lovers torn apart never to meet again in this world, so many futures which could have been but never were, so many hopes dreams and plans which came to nothing, and in particular so many young men who sacrificed everything and died terrible deaths for the sake of their country and the love of their homeland.

Those death were terrible, out of respect for the dead no bodies were shown, but one who had seen them said that few looked as if they lay in comfort and most appeared to have died in agony.

What was the purpose of this ocean of death, agony blood and heart ache? what did so many give up so much for? For every one, the purpose was this country, they died for England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland, they died for this land and for its people.

But they were betrayed by man and by women not worthy to walk the land they died for.

Politicians who came after them, and who cared nothing for their sacrifice and to whom such concepts as love, honour and patriotism are beyond their understanding, have betrayed their memory and maybe even rendered their sacrifice meaningless.

Does anyone believe those millions of young men who died for this land would not recoil in horror at what has become of it. They did not for one instant imagine they were dying so that greedy self serving politicians could replace their grandchildren in their home land. They did not die so Britain could be given to Islam.

The biggest lie is the one told when the political scum oozes out of that repository of treachery and deceit beside Parliament Square and claim that the multi-racial experiment being imposed upon the descendants of those who died in the world wars, or in the case of the second war, upon those who survived it in their old age, somehow represents the spirit and principle for which they fought, it does not.

They did not fight suffer and die so that their grandchildren could be disinherited for the sake of a Marxist fantasy, for make no mistake, if our current pack, and I use that word advisedly, of politicians have their way, in less time than the bones of those young soldiers have lain in that field in Northern France, there will be no Britain for those of native British blood to inherit.

The Millions of British soldiers who died in the great conflicts of the 20th Century did not lay down their lives and the futures they could have had in order that their homeland could be given away so that a grasping politician could import some extra votes or keep wages artificially low. They did not sacrifice their chance of love, fatherhood and old age so that vast and growing areas of Britain's towns and cities could become no-go areas, where British people dare not go.

Those who claim otherwise should hang their heads in shame were they able to comprehend the concept.

It is over used expression that the soldiers who fought in World War I were lions led by donkeys and in that respect very little has changed. To this day brave, handsome and achingly young men are being sent to fight and die in wars, by political leaders who are in the very process of betraying them and giving away their country as they die.

That is without question how those young British soldiers who fought for their country and those young Australians who fought for the mother country in the World Wars would see what is happening. It is a mercy they could not see the future and did not know that their deaths may well have been in vain, or that their counties, for Australia is doing the same, would one day betray them.

Within less than fifty years from now the descendants of those British and Australian soldiers who fought in the great world wars of the twentieth Century will be an ethnic minority in the homelands they fought for. If that is not betrayal, then nothing is betrayal.

BY; Sarah maid of albion

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