buried empire

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Arnos Vale Cemetery11am, Memorial Sunday

A small group gathered at the Arnos Vale cemetery war memorial. I stand in silence during the ceremony then wander on. A lady from the memorial group approaches

Rob is going to give a talk and show a video on the work of the commonwealth war grave commission, would you like to join us? There’s tea?

Oh yes! what a treat. I walk with them to a grand building that is empty inside save a tressle table holding a large tea urn, jug of milk and collection of tea bags. I take a mug of tea and a seat. A young man introduces himself

I’m Dave. I heard the trumpet and came in.

He is another wanderer, lured to the cemetery. A man of few words, recently moved to Bristol in search of work.

Arnos Vale CemeteryRob was nervous.

The video was an excellent mix of World War 2 footage, Michael Palin’s narration, and images of war memorials and graveyards from around the world. In France they are still discovering and re-buring bodies, everytime they lay a new road, build some housing, the bodies are there, just beneath the surface. Rob refers to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission  (CWGC) as the Impperial war graves commission, as if he can’t quite let go of the fact that Britian is no longer an Empire.  The CWGC tries to identify the newly discovered bodies, records their existence and reburies them in the local war graves cemetery.

buried empire
rate wendys scribble

2 bits of lovely banter on “buried empire”

  1. Kevin writes:

    I can understand it up to a point. When talking about the Commission in the context of the two World Wars then “Commonwealth” would be an anachronism. In the context of the Commission’s work today then “Imperial” would be the anachronism. And if you’re talking about both you’ll probably end up painting yourself into a corner. 🙂



  2. wendy writes:

    that makes sense, I was a bit confused about their scope, it seemed to stop with 2nd world war deaths. I think the Ministry of Defence handles the burials from wars since then…



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