A Space Has Been Reserved

After the Great War, more than half a million casualties had marked graves. A decision was made to mark them permanently with headstones and allow the families of the fallen a chance to add their own inscription; more than a century later what do they tell us about grief and loss, sacrifice and service, and the myriad faces of the Great War?


Podcast Extras:

29 Comments on “A Space Has Been Reserved

  1. Dear Paul,

    Congratulations on today’s superb broadcast. It’s difficult to say how much you capture my own thoughts and interests but you do with expertise and thoughtfulness.

    My interest is in the people of the Great War and you reflect that with great insight and wonderful delivery.

    Very many thanks. You make life better

    Kindest regards



    Liked by 1 person

  2. WOW!! What a powerful podcast Paul.
    During the mid 80’s, i worked for the CWGC doing the Headstone Scheduling. Getting the details correct, that were going to be inscribed on the headstone. Sometimes, we had to do the scheduling for an entire cemetery, where the headstones were all being replaced. I can remember many times, having to stop working for a few minutes, after having come across a moving personal inscription. Sometimes, i went home and felt emotionally drained. So much heartache and sorrow. It often moved me to tears.
    Best wishes,

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I think one of my favourite inscriptions is that on the grave of Private Daniel Macintyre of the 1/8th Argyll’s in La Touret Military Cemetery which reads, ‘ST. JOHN XV. 13′ and given the discussion in the podcast regarding cost, is a neat way of saving money, (for those who don’t know this is the passage of the Bible which reads ”Greater love hath no man than this that a man lay down his life for his friends’).

    Liked by 1 person

  4. A fascinating talk, and very moving. I just did the maths on my great grandfather’s headstone (Reg Warren, 1/18th battn. London Regiment (London Irish Rifles).

    “Who was killed in a just cause & for his country’s honour”.

    I am assuming the apostrophe came with a charge, and so this was 16 shillings and 7.5 pence.

    My great great grandparents lived in Camberwell, and were not wealthy. Great great granddad was a packing case maker. I am assuming this wording was a considerable expense to the family.

    I like to believe that the sentiment expressed was firmly believed by the family, and that perhaps this belief gave them comfort.

    Thanks again, Paul.

    Andy Warren.


  5. Corporal James R Tuff of the Royal NFLD Regiment has one that reads:
    “This Sacred Dust is Newfoundland not France and held in trust”.
    (Lots of Ian’s posting)

    Liked by 1 person

  6. He sees the shadows which,
    Through him, speak.
    The blooded earth, brave voices
    The grief stays personal,
    Echoes through time.
    Thanks to Paul Reed
    And his Old Front Line.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Thank you Paul, a thoughtful podcast this one.
    When we visited our Great Uncle William Laflin at Etaple in 2017 one of the memories was reading the inscrptions on the headstones. Uncle Billy had no inscription, I often wonder what may have been put if circumstances were right, very thought provoking.
    Thanks again, the podcasts get better and better.
    Take care, David

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Very moving….I’ve also seen inscriptions in Welsh as you know….Sure there must be Gaelic out there too…Excellent episode


  9. Paul, you’ve nailed it once again. When I saw the subject I couldn’t wait for my usual early Monday morning listening time, in fact I didn’t even get out of bed before I’d played the episode twice. Many thanks.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Over the years I’ve seen the same inscriptions on many headstones – such as ‘their glory shall not be blotted out’ – so a quick question was there a bank of inscriptions offered by the IWGC?

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Monday morning – just sat at my computer working but transported back 100 years. Once again, you effortlessly weave a story covering so many sources and aspects that time has flown by. A different set of social values at that time shaped by what had gone before. Unquestioning service and ‘knowing’s one place in society’, but something that will never change is that ‘family comes first’ whatever your status.

    My wife doesn’t quite get the interest in WW1, but when I play this podcast to her when I get home, she will definitely understand.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. A very thought provoking and excellent podcast which I have just listened to. My great grandmother never had any inscription on her husband’s grave who was an officer (went up through the ranks) and is buried at Arras. I suspect it was a combination of money and still upset by his loss but something I will never know.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Call me sad but looking at the extras and the headstone of Stanhope Forbes..I accept he was an officer but he certainly has more than 66 letters and spaces I guess if the family paid the IWGC turned a blind eye?

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I enjoyed this talk very much, a fascinating topic. In a cemetery near me there is a family memorial to Private George Davidson Morrison McDonald 315674 of the Black Watch. He died on the 3rd of October 1918 at the age of 21 and is buried in UNICORN Cemetery Vendhuile. The inscription on his gravestone is “Somebody’s Darling Slumbers Here”. No heroic sentiment. I’m sure his mother, Elsie, must have written this.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. To say that this was a very moving podcast sounds somewhat trite, especially in view of the previous comments who have done far more eloquent justice than I could have done. Nonetheless, thank you once again. On a lighter note I wish that my history teacher was like yours!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. An interesting and powerful episode which had me thinking about why so many don’t have inscriptions. As mentioned cost may have been a factor but in the case of my own family connections in both cases their widow had remarried (in at least one case with what the family saw as indecent haste) and they moved house with no further contact. This meant the medals were also returned as unknown at the address. I suspect this was not uncommon especially with poorer families with little financial security. Another factor with regular soldiers (which as noted have fewer inscriptions) is that they may have joined the army sometime before the war and lost their family ties over the years, or indeed had few to start with.

    Liked by 1 person

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