Please don't make me fly overseas again.
November 7, 2010 11:27 AM   Subscribe

How can I get a photo of a war grave on the other side of the planet (without renewing my passport, incurring massive airfares, and getting over my deep-seated horror of flying overseas)?

Over the last week, I have found massive amounts of info on the net about my great-great uncle, who was buried in France after being fatally wounded in World War 1. We've found the location of his grave, including the actual plot number. We've found the cemetary on Google Earth but can't distinguish which is his grave.

Is there an organisation of some sort in France that could supply/take a photo of Great-great-uncle Walter's final resting place? Who would you suggest I approach?
posted by malibustacey9999 to Grab Bag (17 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
How about approaching a Flickr group for the area and asking if anyone would take a picture for you? You could post in the group for ideas and maybe offer some trade or donation to charity in their name as payment.
posted by Brockles at 11:34 AM on November 7, 2010

Have you tried contacting the cemetery? If it's still an active cemetery or one affiliated with other soldiers, that will be the way to go. We went that route and it was surprisingly easy (and touching). What about posting it on MeFi jobs?
posted by barnone at 11:39 AM on November 7, 2010

Where in France? I can't promise that I'm anywhere near it, but I have some friends around the country that I could ask as well. I can't make any promises of course (though if it was WW2 and Normandy I could almost definitely help you out)
posted by raccoon409 at 11:49 AM on November 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

Find a Grave can probably help you.
posted by Lutoslawski at 11:52 AM on November 7, 2010 [2 favorites]

raccoon409, it is Daours Communal Cemetery, about 10 kilometres east of Amiens and north-west of Villers-Bretonneux.
posted by malibustacey9999 at 11:53 AM on November 7, 2010

If contacting the cemetery yields no results, you could try messaging people who live nearby. Maybe someone would be willing to snap a photo (I would have done this while I was in France, so you might get lucky.)

Off the top of my head, you could check:

the forum for american teaching assistants in france
couch surfing - maybe there's a local group
posted by Solon and Thanks at 12:25 PM on November 7, 2010

Does the Commonwealth War Graves Commission help at all?
posted by episodic at 1:02 PM on November 7, 2010

Perhaps someone here can help. Here is an Amiens Flickr group.
posted by barnone at 1:32 PM on November 7, 2010

Since you have his name, cemetery, and plot, you should have no trouble finding a volunteer to take this photo. There are a number of online resources that specialize in doing this.

If he's buried at Daours, I am guessing he was wounded at the Somme (there were a lot of Australian casualties at Pozières) and died between June 1916 and the end of 1918. Unless his name is A. Scott or C. Reynolds, you'll be looking in the Extension. It looks like Find a Grave has nearly every grave catalogued, but few of them have photos attached. The records for this cemetery are entered as last name, abbreviated rank, initial, so searching by last name is probably best.

Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness is dedicated to volunteer photo safaris of this nature, if they have a volunteer in the right area.

The War Graves Photographic Project is probably your best bet. Here are all their Australian Walters. Is he there? If so , hurrah! If you want, you can even order better resolution copies.
posted by Sallyfur at 1:38 PM on November 7, 2010 [12 favorites]

Oh, Sallyfur, thank you! This is him. I've ordered a copy of the photo, and made a donation of a little bit more than they requested.

What a wonderful resource. What a wonderful internet. What a wonderful Askme response! You guys rock, bigtime.

I'm currently bawling my eyes out. Wait til I show my grandmother (his niece). I'd strongly advise investing in Kleenex stock at the moment.
posted by malibustacey9999 at 2:18 PM on November 7, 2010 [8 favorites]

posted by Sallyfur at 2:43 PM on November 7, 2010

I wasn't clear before, probably because I was wailing like a baby and barely coherent, but it was Sallyfur's link to the War Graves Photographic Project that did the trick.

My grandmother is oh-so-grateful to you all, for your help. She's still getting her head around this whole internet thing, gawd love her.

The look on her face when I showed her the printout of his headstone (still waiting for England to wake up before I can get the emailed jpg.) Priceless.

Thank you. Thank you all so very much. And now I'm crying again. This is getting ridiculous.
posted by malibustacey9999 at 11:13 PM on November 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

*shivers* Wow, this is pretty amazing. Thank you, Internet People.
posted by wenestvedt at 10:28 AM on November 8, 2010

Just to close this off, I thought I'd let y'all know that I have just received the email from The War Graves Photographic Project, with two gloriously high-res jpg's, one of his headstone and one of the whole (small) cemetary extension.

And tomorrow is Rememberance Day in Australia. And also the 94th anniversary of great-great uncle Walter embarking from Sydney.

Thank you again, all of you, and particularly Sallyfur and raccoon409.

This time yesterday I'd posted my question and answers were coming in. Just 24 hours later I have in my hands a beautiful photo of his headstone. Is there anything you people CAN'T do?!?
posted by malibustacey9999 at 12:52 PM on November 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

One final footnote: I was kinda interviewed today (via email) by a journo working for a UK newspaper, The Guardian. Alison Winward is doing a feature for Remembrance Day and wanted a personal insight from someone who has taken advantage of TWGPP's services. Steve at TWGPP asked if I was okay with participating, they want the publicity. "Hell, YES", I answered. The more publicity they can get, the better.

Great-great-uncle Walter would be astounded, don't you think? It makes me smile to think how shocked he would be at the whole internet thing, let alone how some family members care about him almost 100 years later.

At the Remembrance Day service, as well as remembering him and all other fallen soldiers, I will also think of all of you who helped me in my quest.
posted by malibustacey9999 at 12:27 AM on November 10, 2010

And the article was published, both in print and online, and they got so much traffic the server crashed. Hopefully that translated into lots of donations, eventually.

Sally-fur is a legend. And raccoon409 is a sweetheart for offering assistance too.
posted by malibustacey9999 at 11:46 PM on November 12, 2010

Final-final-final update: my grandmother and I were interviewed by a well-known Aussie journalist last Tuesday, for an ANZAC Day tv special highlighting the work of the War Graves Photographic Project.

Fingers crossed that Steve and the WGPP finally get the recognition they deserve.
posted by malibustacey9999 at 6:13 PM on April 14, 2011

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