The special treatment of the bodies of the unidentified servicemen who drowned in HMY Iolaire 100 years ago is unusual - they were given headstones, whereas most seamen in WWI who washed up unidentified on British shores were buried in unmarked graves. Today marks the centenary of the Iolaire tragedy, when some 200 Scottish Hebridians … Continue reading The unidentified victims of the Iolaire tragedy – remembered with their own memorials, unlike other unknown sailors
A chance discovery of a tombstone in West Norwood Cemetery led me to the torpdeoing of HMS Formidable and an amazing resurrection of a drowned sailor by a Hollywood legend. As the festive season descends upon us, it's nice to share a story with a positive twist. A while ago I found an overgrown headstone … Continue reading Lassie, the resurrection dog
I now look at several documented cases of body-snatching from the burial grounds of the Great War. I previously described the uncompromising approach of the authorities who managed the war graves of the dead of Britain and Dominions. Two decisions were particularly contentious: the uniformity of headstones, and the refusal to allow families to repatriate … Continue reading Twentieth century body-snatching: battlefield grave robbers
The Great War cemeteries are today accepted without question. But at the time, the British Empire’s policy of keeping bodies overseas even led to body snatching. British soldiers’ bodies had been left overseas before, but never on the scale seen in WWI. Previous wars were fought by a volunteer army of professional soldiers: they were … Continue reading Twentieth-century body snatching: Who owns the body?
Palm oil was first brought to Europe from Africa during the Georgian era and soon established itself as a valuable raw ingredient in soaps and cooking. The port of Liverpool dominated the trade, complemented by its proximity to the factories of Britain’s industrial heartland. Today palm oil provides a third of global edible oils and … Continue reading Palm oil, slavery and Liverpool’s abandoned Jamaican benefactor
The funeral of George HW Bush yesterday was given added gravitas by a very public final carriage to his resting place at College Station by train. His body had already been sent from Texas for a state funeral in Washington DC, before returning to Houston. It was then placed on a specially-configured Union Pacific train. … Continue reading The 41st President’s funeral train
The long-distance carriage of the dead of the British Army and Royal Navy is not recorded in the official histories. It is largely forgotten, as public focus is primarily on the large war cemeteries overseas where the dead were buried 'in perpetuity' close to where they fell. In the words of Rupert Brookes: 'If I … Continue reading The mass-mobilization of corpses during World War I