Cemeteries for Canada's Fallen (1919)
War Graves Commission Decides on Immense Plots in France and Belgium
The Toronto World, 7 February 1919
Ottawa, Feb. 6.—Canadian soldiers who gave up their lives for their country on the battlefields of France and Flanders will lie, as they fought, together facing the line they died to hold. Comrades in life, they will be comrades in death.
The Imperial War Graves Commission has issued its report to the various governments of the empire, the following memorandum on which is issued by the militia department here:
"Among other matters which were discussed by the Imperial War Graves Commission were two important questions. First, the bringing into cemeteries the bodies buried in isolated graves on the battlefield; and secondly, the exhumation of bodies, whether in isolated braves or in cemeteries, in order to transfer them to their native countries.
"The Commission recognized the existence of a sentiment in favor of leaving the bodies of the dead where they fell, but, in view of the actual conditions, regarded it as impracticable. Over 150,000 such scattered graves are known in France and Belgium. These will shortly be restored to cultivation, or possibly be afforested and the bodies cannot remain undisturbed.
"The Commission resolves to apply to the French Government for permission to gather these bodies into cemeteries as close as they may be to the place where they lie.
"Adopt" Our Dead
"With regard to the removal of bodies to their native countries, the Commission were aware of a strong desire in a small number of cases that such exhumation should be permitted, but the reasons to the contrary appeared to them overwhelming. The empire had gratefully accepted the offers made by the governments of France, Belgium, Italy and Greece to provide land in perpetuity for our cemeteries, and to 'adopt' our dead. The Commission felt that a higher ideal than that of private burial at home is embodied in these war cemeteries in foreign lands, where those who fought and fell together, officers and men, lie together in their resting place, facing the line they gave their lives to maintain."