Saturday, February 18, 2012

Entombed WWI German Soldiers Unearthed from Bomb Shelter

Apparently, it did not shelter very well. But the sad fact is, no matter the century or generation, too many young men die in war.

From the Telegraph UK:
"...experts to liken the scene to Pompeii."
"Twenty-one German soldiers entombed in a perfectly preserved World War One shelter have been discovered 94 years after they were killed. The men were part of a larger group of 34 who were buried alive when an Allied shell exploded above the tunnel in 1918 causing it to cave in."
A French road construction crew made the initial discovery.

Two million Germans were killed in WW1 and Britain and her empire lost a million men. The last German soldier to fight in WWI died without fanfare in Jan. 2008.
"The death of the infantryman (Erich Kaestner) who later became a judge means that there are only four Great War veterans left from the major powers of Europe - three British and one French."
Typical. The Daily Mail omitted the name of last surviving Yank to fight in WWI.

Bear with me a minute: Long before I was borned, the Great Depression claimed my grandparents sizable farm in western Missouri. My brother still has the ledger that cataloged all their wordly possessions auctioned off to satisfy creditors. The remnants of those proceeds helped them move on to another chapter in their life.

When I was a young boy, my grandparents were well established in their Kansas City Hyde Park home. And to a small boy, their neighbor was a rather scary old man. When outside trimming his hedge or cutting his grass with a reel mower, he frequently had a cigarette dangling from his mouth. He belched smoke and muttered through a perpetual scowl, as if conversing with something, or someone of only he was aware. His constant hacking, coughing and spitting, like a lung would come out, made this little boy cower in fear and stay far from his property line, even though the house were separated by grassy yards barely 40 feet wide.

I asked my grandfather why Mr. K was always so sick. My grandfather responded that Mr. K had been in the great war fighting the evil Hun. His unit had a mustard gas bomb dropped on them. Many died, but Mr. K survived, albeit walking wounded with scarred lungs and a tortured mind. "Leave him alone," my grandfather demanded. "He's a war hero." My little boy curiosity had been satisfied. Some years later, I heard that Mr. K had died from emphysema.

In Feb. 2011, Frank Buckles, last living U.S. WWI vet, died.
"(AP) MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - Frank Buckles was repeatedly rejected by military recruiters and got into uniform at 16 after lying about his age. He would later become the last surviving U.S. veteran of World War I.

Buckles, who also survived being a civilian POW in the Philippines in World War II, died of natural causes Sunday at his home in Charles Town, biographer and family spokesman David DeJonge said. He was 110...

Born in Missouri in 1901 and raised in Oklahoma, Buckles visited a string of military recruiters after the United States entered the "war to end all wars" in April 1917. He was repeatedly rejected before convincing an Army captain he was 18. He was actually 16 1/2."
 The war is over.

More than 4 million men and women served in the U.S. military during the Great War. More than 116,000 U.S. soldiers were killed or wounded.

The Liberty Memorial in Kansas City, MO is the only national museum dedicated to honoring the fallen of WWI.
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