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"Mass grave of 81 British soldiers uncovered" Topic

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randy51 Supporting Member of TMP20 Feb 2021 3:39 p.m. PST
Dn Jackson Supporting Member of TMP20 Feb 2021 9:40 p.m. PST

Very interesting. No mention of uniform buttons or other gear. Must have been stripped naked before burial.

42flanker Supporting Member of TMP21 Feb 2021 3:13 a.m. PST

A field hospital at Vianen on the Lek (Lower Rhine), independent of the notorious general hospital at Rhenen 25 miles upstream, would have been set up to serve the troops of the allied 'Right Wing' division under Maj Gen David Dundas and his principal brigadier Maj Gen William Cathcart. They had taken the field on 29th December 1794 to attack the French bridgehead at Tuil on the north shore of the Waal, established following Gen de Bde Daendel's seizure of the fortress town of Bommel on the south shore. A base area was established in the vicinity of Culemborg and nearby Vianen while the high command determined whether to abandon the campaing entirely

The 81 bodies found in the mass grave will be a mix of men who had succumbed to disease, privation and the intense cold that had descended on western Europe in December 1794, as well as some of the 128 wounded reported in the three engagements fought in the vicinity between 30th Dec 1794-8th January 1795 who did not survive their injuries. Analysis of the skeletons will reveal more detail. Buttons and other identifiying material may be awaiting analysis. There may be more bodies yet to be discovered.

By midwinter 1794, the clothing situation, new uniforms, in some cases overdue by a year or more, had not reached the regiments but even brand new uniforms would have been inadequate to deal with the severe weather. A few battalons had received warm clothes provided by public prescription or with funds set up by their own officers. Troops were described looking like tramps, wearing anything they could find to supplement their ragged uniforms.

It may be, therefore, that clothing was salvaged for use by troops in the vicinity. Given the administrative shortcomings in the Duke of York's army in Holland, organising such a measure might not seem very likely. However, both Dundas and Cathcart, two of the more effective British commanders in York's army, demonstrated a notable degree of concern for the welfare of their troops. Alternatively, it may simply have been customary practice to strip corpses. Clothing that wasn't burned may well have been scavenged. More research required.

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP21 Feb 2021 3:52 a.m. PST

Bet on stripping the dead. One of the nicest things I know about modern times is that the value of people relative to things like clothing has vastly increased.

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