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  • After the policy of the current British Commonwealth countri

    2020-03-20

    After 1915, the policy of the (current) British Commonwealth countries (including Britain, Canada, Australia, India, New Zealand and South Africa) regarding the dead, was to ensure that as far as possible, whether identified or not, all recovered bodies would be given individual graves, with standardized headstones that did not distinguish between rank, social class or religion. Most of these men were not professional soldiers, but citizens who had either volunteered or had been conscripted for military service. In death, all would be remembered equally, regardless of their pre-war social status and position. The names of men whose bodies could not be located or identified were listed on great stone memorials and classified as missing (Laqueur, 1994). These were new practices, developed by Sir Fabian Ware, who began work on the battlefields as part of the British Red Cross. A Graves Registration Commission was set up in 1915, and established by Royal Charter as the Imperial War Graves Commission in 1917 (CWGC, 2014a). The proposal made by the Imperial War Graves Commission to bury all of the Commonwealth dead close to where they fell, was fiercely debated at all levels of society. The British Treasury persistently contested applications for regular funding to maintain the cemeteries, the public objected to the design of the headstones and families demanded the repatriation of their sons for private burial (Longworth, 2003). Ultimately, the Imperial War Graves Commission (now the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, (CWGC)) designed and built the cemeteries on all of the battlefields, and over time, persuaded the British and ‘Dominion’ governments and the public to accept their ideas of burial practice (Longworth, 2003). The results of the CWGC work now present one of the Protease Inhibitor Cocktail (100X in DMSO, EDTA plus) memorials on the battlefields, particularly around Ieper in Flanders and on the Somme in France, where the main British campaigns were fought. In these areas there are also many dead from Germany, France and Belgium but as a result of different burial practices their visual impact is somewhat less compared with the number and spread of the CWGC cemeteries. It is fitting to remember that the war dead for the main combatant nations comprised: France (1.4m), the British Empire and its Dominions (0.9m), Russia (1.8m), Germany (2.0m), Austro-Hungary (1.1m), Turkey and Bulgaria (0.9m), Italy (0.6m), and others (0.7m) (Stevenson, 2004). As Shaw (2009) and Schwartz (1982) have shown, social memories do not necessarily ‘progress’ in linear fashion, but can be disrupted, move back and forth across generations, and may be re-invented and re-prioritized. Each generation remembers historical events from its own perspective in order to satisfy its own needs, and the memories which are encoded to memorials may be interpreted with new meaning, and according to different priorities by generations that follow (Halbwachs, 1992, Schwartz, 1982, Winter, 1995). Hutchinson (2009, p. 415) observes that “memorials can be inactive until they are reinvigorated or transformed by a new need or political situation.” The societies that fought the Great War are now different in many ways from those of today yet there is an increasing interest in the war (Winter, 1995). It is not well known how today’s generations may experience and interpret the memorials that were built a century ago by a society that had endured four years of total war (Dyer, 1994, Hunt and McHale, 2008). In addition to the effects of time, technology and experience, the memory of war can be manipulated, both deliberately and inadvertently by any number of organisations and institutions including governments, remembrance associations, the military, tourism, and the media, particularly film and television (Iles, 2006, Todman, 2005). Analysis of these influences is beyond the scope of this study, but tourists are sensitive to them and in addition, their attitudes and behaviours can result from their socio-cultural background and knowledge (Dunkley, Morgan, & Westwood, 2011). The memory encoded to memorials then may be interpreted in new ways including the generation of new memory, and for some, the older encoded meaning may not be at all apparent or relevant.