June 20, 2001
3:23 AM   Subscribe

Mass grave of 24 World War I dead discovered in France. There's no way history is boring. Especially to a Belgian or French farmer.
posted by luser (8 comments total)
Remember that movie "Stand By Me"? I've always had a sick secret desire to discover a dead person or skeleton. Maybe I should go hiking here.
posted by luser at 3:29 AM on June 20, 2001

It's takes so a few months to get a war started, but centuries to go in and clean everything up.
posted by brucec at 4:35 AM on June 20, 2001

Very true Bruce. The French have an enormous part of the countryside that is still being combed though for shells from WWI. There is a book called "Aftermath: The remnants of war" that covers the topic well. It tells about the French deminers who go and find all these old shells and how they dispose of them. Really good book.

Good link. Thanks Luser.
posted by a3matrix at 4:59 AM on June 20, 2001

There's never been any peacetime answer to conscription that would summon the number of people required for war, in order to embark on any clean up project. Could you imagine.

posted by brucec at 7:11 AM on June 20, 2001

The archaeological team from Arras, 110 miles north of Paris, was searching a field for ancient artifacts ahead of the possible construction of a BMW automobile plant.
Reading that made me pause for thought about how much the face of Europe has changed in 80 years. It's sad that knowing what we do about the consequences of WW1 we can't really say those 24 guys died making that change come about.
posted by pascal at 8:57 AM on June 20, 2001

Interesting, I was just reading a description of the Battle of Arras in John Keegan's "The Book of War". In the soldier's description of the battle (which is probably one of the better written accounts in the book), he talks about battlefield burials. To be honest, I was morbidly curious about how that worked in a battlefield subjected to constant shelling.... This is a fascinating other side to that.

In regards to the changing face of Europe, it is fascinating that the site will be for a BMW plant. Amazing how the perception of economic/political hegemony has changed in 80 years. Or has it? Comments?
posted by elsar at 10:55 AM on June 20, 2001

Wow, that second link is great.

It may be completely psychological, but I always sense a strange somber tension in the air whenever I visit an old battleground. I've never been to Gettysburg, but I have long desired to. Wars leave such scars for so long.

I find the Alamo particularly moving, especially in its current state, surrounded by the tall buildings of downtown San Antionio. Weird how some things change.
posted by jammer at 11:33 AM on June 20, 2001

It gets even more exciting in France when they find unexploded chemical munitions. Mustard gas, in particular, doesn't change with time; it's still very deadly.
posted by Steven Den Beste at 11:52 AM on June 20, 2001

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