About The Unreturned Army

The best ideas are often the ideas that come to you when you least expect it. This was not an idea as such, more a feeling of responsibility.

As someone who frequently wanders the graveyards of those who have left these earthen foothills, I have often noticed those most personal statements. Statements by family for family; the ending to individuals lost; exclamations to anyone who would see. These are the goodbyes, the farewells to those lost in the Great War. Some are over one hundred years now, but too often, too many are disappearing. The messages erased by time, by wind and rain and by modernity.

For the Great War as they knew it, the war that lasted from 1914 until their own ending, made a lasting legacy upon my homeland, the United Kingdom. Too many men, and some women, far too many left this island and never returned. Few were financially or practically able to make a pilgrimage to the grave of loved ones lost to the war; some were never able to because their bodies were either lost or unidentified. So this is my attempt to capture those messages, those obituaries to service and those legacies that tell of love, longing and absence. It particularly tells me about family; that war can have a devastating, an enduring effect on family. And indeed how they tried to move on.

So this is an investigation into the farewells to the unreturned army by the individuals, families and localities that knew them best. It begins with the Great War and the areas that I know perhaps best, but hopefully, will spread beyond to capture those other epitaphs to the fallen of elsewhere.

My hope is some may find this interesting, perhaps useful for genealogical research but maybe too see the words for what they were, a reminder that soldiers, service personnel were also men, women and in case children. Beyond a uniform or a memorial, that they were important, that they were loved.

 

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