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Old 05-01-22, 03:16 PM
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gurkharifles gurkharifles is offline
Join Date: Jun 2008
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Default The Searchers - Robert Sackville-West

I've just finished reading one of my Christmas presents - The Searchers - The Quest for the Lost of the First World War - by Robert Sackville West. I highly recommend it - beautifully written and well researched. At the end of the war - the whereabouts of some 500,000 British Soldiers was unknown. This book is about the search for the bodies and the need to put a name to as many as possible. Some of the personal stories are very moving and one is quite astonishing: In March 1918 2/Lt Eric Hayter RFA was shot and killed during the German Spring Offensive - his body was not recovered. His father Colonel Fredrick Hayter - a well connected man of means - spent years trying to find more information and hoped that his son's body would be recovered when "the final clearing up of the battlefields" was undertaken by the Dept of Graves Registration - in the next few years Col Hayter established the place where his son had been killed and in 1923 approached the local farmer to acquire a plot of land 5 meters square to erect a private memorial - the farmer refused permission - undaunted he approached a neighbouring farmer who sold him a plot of land for a "nominal sum" a few meters from the identified spot. In Sept 1924 as the contractor started digging the foundation of the stone memorial "he came - amazingly - across a body three feet below the surface probably buried in a hurry when the Germans overan Eric's battery" - RFA insignia and dental records would confirm that he had found his son's body. Tim
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