I have been without any working internet connection for a couple of weeks now, so no photographs of the last trip yet. Have some old ones, instead, for the 11th; these are from a trip to Normandy earlier in the year. Three national war graves; three approaches to commemoration.
The entrance to a British cemetery – one of many scattered around the countryside – in Bayeux.
The lists of names, for those never found, and the ubiquitous poppy.
The lines of white headstones – all differently carved, but identically shaped – are offset by the plants.
Those who died together were buried together, known or unknown.
Bayeux Cathedral – which, by strange fate, came through the fighting untouched – looming over the cemetery.
A second cemetery – smaller, and more pastoral, hidden down a dusty lane in a small village near the Orne.
Note the variety of insignia, carved individually.
An Australian airman, far from home.
…and closer to home, a Frenchman. Buried here as a British soldier – “Commando Anglo-Francais No. 4” – but with a distinct headstone, presumably in the French style.
German war cemeteries are… flat, and dark, and bleak. A fraught question; how should the conscript soldiers of a hated – and defeated – army be remembered in an occupied land? The answer, apparently, is “unobtrusively”, and as far from triumphalist as possible.
Heinz Molesch was eighteen and three months. Konrad Kasprsyk – a Polish name? – was eighteen and four months. One of these headstones – men were almost always buried in pairs, under a flat stone – had the name of a soldier and another, given as “mädchen” – young woman. There is a story there, lost to the decades along with her name.
The American cemetery – this is on the bluffs above Omaha Beach – is simply a sea of crosses, in white marble with inscribed names, rolling across the landscape.
…or the absence of names. The headstone just behind is of one of the handful of women buried here.
The graves make a strict geometric line; it’s almost mesmerising. Note the small scattering of Stars of David – five in these two pictures, I think – and the lines sweeping down to the coast in the background. The cemetery is built on the bluffs overlooking Omaha Beach; it’s concealed behind the rise of the cliff, perhaps a quarter of a mile away at most.