Douaumont Cemetery

This post is in honour of the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme which took place between 1 July and 18 November 1916 on both sides of the upper reaches of the River Somme in France. Fought by the armies of the British and French empires against the German Empire, it was the largest battle of the First World War. More than one million men were wounded or killed, making it one of the bloodiest battles in human history.

The Battle of Verdun, conducted on a battlefield covering less than 20 square kilometers, became known as The Hell of Verdun. Approximately 230,000 men died out of a total of 700,000 casualties (dead, wounded and missing).

fields of battle
I always find graves in the winter more compelling – their suffering seems never ending.

Located in northeastern France within the Verdun battlefield, the Douaumont Cemetery has been designated a national cemetery. It contains bodies collected from the battlefield at the end of the war interred in 16,142 graves, making it the largest single French military burial place of the First World War.

The simple cross military marker hosts a metal plate engraved with the name of the fallen soldier; last name, first name, middle name; Battalion; ‘Killed In France’ with the date of death. There are also a large number of Muslim markers.

Within the cemetery is a memorial known as the Douaumont Ossuary containing the skeletal remains of over 130,000 unidentified French and German soldiers who died on the Verdun battlefield. The tower contains beautiful stained glass windows and a bronze death-bell which is sounded at official ceremonies. At the top of the tower is a rotating red and white “lantern of the dead”, which shines on the battlefields at night.


From FOR THE FALLEN by Laurence Binyon
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.


POSTSCRIPT 7/31/2016 just found an interesting article at this link.


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