Thursday, 30 June 2011

Angel with a Harp

How often do you see an Angel playing a celestial harp? Not often, I am guessing. This headstone is in the Arnos Vale cemetery in Bristol, England.

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Anchor Symbolism

The grave of Thomas Henry Leak in Brookwood Cemetery. A really fine example of an anchor with its chain draped over the cross. The anchor represents hope or eternal life.

Sunday, 26 June 2011

God Knows Best!

Thinking of some of the awful events taking place around the world in which we live, there might be those who do not agree with the motto on this headstone. That said, I thought this headstone for Noah Samuel Cox was very ornate for a 1920s grave. What do others think? The grave is in the impressive Arnos Vale Cemetery in Bristol.

Friday, 24 June 2011

The Palermo Catacombs

The Capuchins Catacombs in Palermo, Sicily are attracting the attentions of the Taphophile community at present. I remembered that I had published some vintage postcards of the catacombs on another blog more than two years ago. I thought I should share them here with you.

The catacombs contain lines of thousands of well preserved corpses. Dating back to 1599 when priests mummified a monk for all to see and others followed. Some of the corpses have long ago lost their flesh and are skeletons. Others have mummified flesh, hair and even eyes. All are dressed in clothes from the period in which they lived. The practice stopped in the 1920s.

A fascinating website on the subject is maintained by retires US Navy Chief Petty Officer Kimberly King. Click HERE to visit her website. It is well work a visit.  People may wish to visit another site HERE which has some really stunning photographs!

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Brookwood American Cemetery

According to the American Battle Monuments Commission, the 4.5 acre Brookwood American Cemetery and Memorial in England lies to the west of the large civilian cemetery built by the London Necropolis Co. and contains the graves of 468 US war dead of the First World War. Close by are military cemeteries and monuments of the British Commonwealth and other allied nations. Automobiles may drive through the Commonwealth or civilian cemeteries to the American cemetery. It is the only American Military of the Great War in Britain.

The two postcards below show the view to the visitor reception centre with its central archway and the view from the archway out to the war graves. They both mention 437 dead so other casualties must have been buried later in the postwar period. I have visited the cemetery twice and it is very impressive.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

He played at the Funeral of Stonewall Jackson

Here is the headstone of Andrew B Bowering 1842-1923 in Fredericksburg Cemetery. What a story it has to tell. It was erected by the Fredericksburg Band in his memory. It records that Bowering was:

A loyal Confederate Soldier - Leader of 30th VA Regiment Band 1861-65 - Composed the Funeral Dirge and led the Band at the funeral of Stonewall Jackson - Played last Military Recall of Civil War at Appomattox - Commissioner of the Revenue 1874 to 1923.

Monday, 20 June 2011

New Home for News Items

There is a lot of information out there for those who are interested in Cemeteries and Graveyards. Rather than 'clutter' this area, I thought I would link to interesting news items on my Facebook fan page for The Graveyard Detective. Click HERE to visit or scroll down to Follow us on Facebook - just above My Blog List.

Graveyards & Gravestones

This could be a useful source - photographs of 2,300 gravestones:

40 Hauntingly Beautiful Photographs of Graves Taken In Graveyards and Cemeteries

I thought these photographs might be of interest to people. Enjoy!

40 Hauntingly Beautiful Photographs of Graves Taken In Graveyards and Cemeteries

Friday, 17 June 2011

Waiting for the Embalming Process to Begin

It was a chance find. A piece of cloth and a small envelope of snapshots. Together, they revealed a little known episode of military history. This is what I know. The piece of white material is an arm band. It bears the letters C A M C and was worn by US servicemen and women working at the Cambridge American Military Cemetery.

The cemetery was first established in December 1943 on 30.5 acres of land donated by the University of Cambridge. It was selected as a permanent American Military Cemetery, not only because of its scenic grandeur, but also because a large proportion of American casualties occurred in this general area of East Anglia. The cemetery was not dedicated until July 1956.

It contains 3,809 headstones, with the remains of 3,812 servicemen, including airmen who died over Europe and sailors from North Atlantic convoys. What isn't well documented is that, with the Graves Registration unit based there, a team of uniformed embalmers worked tirelessly to 'prepare' the bodies for burial. This surprised me as I always imagined that the bodies - after all the accounting paperwork was processed and the personal effects collected - were simply placed into a coffin and buried with due military honours. How do I know this?

Well, the arm band came with a newspaper cutting and a number of photographs of the preparation room in the embalming huts. The cutting records that Technical Sgt Jimmy was based at the Cemetery and was a practising embalmer. Indeed, while there he was admitted to the British Institute of Embalmers.

Jimmy was born on 23 Feb 1914. He enlisted in Baltimore in April 1941 and his occupation was recorded as embalmer and undertaker. He died in Cumberland, MD aged 96 on 21 April 2010.

When you look at the photographs which are marked on the reverse with the words 'Prep. Room', you will notice all the paraphenalia hanging around including piping and hoses used in the process of embalming. If the white sheet draped over the embalming tables is raised, then a body is under the sheet awaiting preparation. When I look at them, it gives me the shivers.

Photograph: American Battle Monuments Commission
(courtesy of Creative Commons)

Download a copy of the 1945 Graves Registration Manual HERE. It is a fascinating document.

View or download the illustrated Cambridge American Cemetery and Memorial Guide HERE

View a video of the Cemetery HERE

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Floral Tributes on double graves of the First World War

This photograph shows a number of graves in Bois Guillaume Communal Cemetery which is located in the north east of Rouen. The two plots in the cemetery were reserved for Commonwealth burials from September 1914 to March 1917. For the most part, the burials took place from No. 8 General Hospital which was quartered in a large private house and grounds. The second plot contains the graves of servicemen killed in a railway accident on February 14, 1917. What is unusual is that all the burials pictured are double grave plots. Each grave has two wooden crosses at its head.

I was able to identify the location thanks to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission's Debt of Honour website - a searchable database for First and Second World War casualties. A grave on the right is to Private Alfred Jacob Cripps of the Army Veterinary Corps. Attached to the 7th Veterinary Hospital, he died on February 2, 1915. Click on the image, and then again, for a close-up view.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

War Damage

I was thinking recently of the terrible damage done to cemeteries by the effects of Hurricane Katrina. Then I came across this souvenir postcard showing the damage caused by an artillery bombardment during the First World War. This scene of devastation was captured in the Eastern Cemetery of Reims in France.

Monday, 13 June 2011

An early view of the National Cemetery, Arlington.

An early postcard of Arlington National Cemetery. On the reverse is the description:
'The National Cemetery Arlington - where many of the Union and Confederate soldiers and sailors were buried. This is also the last resting place of a great number of titled officers who fought in the Army and Navy on both sides.' The cemetery looks, oh so different, today!

Friday, 10 June 2011

The Blue Angel

I thought I would share some more views of the Blue Angel. I think she is beautiful. What a wonderful memorial!

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Fragile State

Jesus Called A Little Child Unto Him, records the saying above the inscriptions on this memorial in Clitheroe Cemetery in Lancashire. It records the passing of the two young children of Albert and Susie Sykes. Cecil Robert who died in his fifth year in 1875 and Bertie who died in his second year in 1864.
Albert, who was a Yarn Agent, had three more sons and a daughter who died at 28 years. Albert died in 1906, daughter Gladys in 1908 and Susie in 1910.

It is a beautiful headstone but if you look closely, a section of the inscription is in a fragile state. Water must have seeped in and there is a distinct line fold each side. It would take just a touch by a passing visitor and it would fall away and smash on the ground. Long may it remain intact.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Cemetery Snapshots 2

Another selection of snapshots.

Henry Voss, farmer, of Harrison, Calumet County, Winsconsin and his wife Sarah Anne.  Both of German parentage. On the reverse is written: 'Great Grandma and Grandma (sic?) Voss. Parents of Andy Voss

Joseph Constantino Jr (1925 to 1955) with Mother and Grandmother.
Joseph Constantino Jr

Elizabeth C Short, wife of John Short 
Joseph Halper of Cook County, Illinois died one day short of his first birthday

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Cemetery Snapshots

I finally got round to having a look in a couple of envelopes of assorted cemetery snapshots from America that I received in the post earlier this year. Oh that people would write some details on the reverse!

A souvenir photograph from the Arrow Photo Service - Box 104, Neverfade Photos, Minneapolis

Elderly grandparents at the grave of son or daughter, perhaps. Note the child. Is that a sailor suit of sorts

At the graveside. Relatives are pictured with the floral tributes

Only the words 'Daddy Monument' are written on the reverse of this photogaph. It is the grave of French Canadian Architect, Jule Joanisse (61) who died in 1932 and his mother Anastessie (91) who died in 1931. The cemetery is in Cochrane, Ontario

Bange? Not the most common of names. On the back is written: Lisle and Revilla, Barre, Vermont; C F Redding, Hanover, Penna: Mount Olivet Cemtery, Hanover, Penna

Friday, 3 June 2011

Leaning just a Little More!

Frome Christ Church churchyard also has an area of tottering memorials. It was quite challenging underfoot when I walked through to photograph the leaning grave architecture. It was only when I got to the other side that I noticed some warning notices!

Welcome to the Graveyard Detective

An illustrated look at the World of Graveyards and Cemeteries. There are many Stories behind the Stones that Stand in them. Who knows what we might find?


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