On Fame's Eternal Camping Ground: A Study of First World War Epitaphs in the British Cemeteries of the Western Front Hardcover – 15 Oct 2007
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When, after the Great War, the Imperial War Graves Commission began its immense task of erecting headstones to mark the graves of Britain's dead and those of her Empire, the next-of-kin of the deceased were offered the opportunity to have a personal inscription added to the official information engraved on each stone. The response was extraordinary. Ranging from the homespun to the resoundingly lyrical, the bereaved families' chosen words embraced an astonishing variety of sentiments to express feelings of grief, sacrifice, Christian faith, pride, duty, patriotism...sometimes anger, too.Some of them reflect attitudes of an era which, not yet entirely gone from living memory, is made to seem impossibly remote. Based on five years' research, this book presents more than 1,500 epitaphs on First World War headstones in the cemeteries of Belgium and France. These tributes to young sons, husbands and brothers of that lost generation, buried far from home, provide an eloquent and moving demonstration of the power and beauty of language.
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The recording and ordering the inscriptions themselves must have taken, I would imagine, years of research. I have been moved in the past by reading such inscriptions at WW1 CWG cemeteries but the quantity and ordering of them in the book, together with further background information makes a very powerful point - never again.
I find that I can only read a few pages at a time as it is a very emotional book to read. However I almost feel that it is my duty to finish it! Well done Trefor Jones - a real Tour de Force. Superb.