New cemetery for WWI soldiers to be built in France

New cemetery for WWI soldiers to be built in France

New cemetery for WWI soldiers to be built in France

Construction was launched on May 4 for a new cemetery in northern France that will be used to bury freshly discovered remains of World War I soldiers.

Bones are regularly found in the fields of northeastern France that were the scene of mass killings during the trench warfare of the 1914-1918 conflict.

Ongoing excavation work for a new canal in the area linking the town of Compiegne to Aubencheul-au-Bac over 107 kilometers (66 miles) is expected to lead to the discovery of hundreds of new remains.

The new cemetery, financed by Britain and Canada with capacity for 1,200 graves, will be located next to an existing British facility in the village of Loos-en-Gohelle, near the city of Lens.

“Nearly 100,000 soldiers from the World War I still lie beneath the fields, villages and towns along the Western Front where they experienced hell on earth more than 100 years ago," the head of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC), Claire Horton, said on May 4.

Various infrastructure projects such as the construction of the new hospital at Lens afford a rare opportunity to recover the remains of some of those soldiers, from the area which was the scene of many intense battles. Those soldiers and recently recovered soldiers from the area will be buried at the new extension at Loos British Cemetery.

"Every time they put a digger in the ground, they find somebody," she added, saying that an estimated 20,000 to 30,000 men died around the area of the cemetery.

The 3,000 CWGC- maintained cemeteries in France are almost full, with the last new facility opened in 2011.

“The First World War was a tragedy, a horrible war of attrition for those fighting in Belgium and France especially. Today, countless cemeteries on the Western Front exist in peace – peace was something the fallen would tragically never see,” said Dirk Backen, the head of a German war grave foundation.

“Working in collaboration, the war graves commissions expect to find remains of the fallen still buried deeply in trenches and other terrain along the path of the planned canal.”

The new graves in Loos-en-Gohelle are expected to be ready at the end of 2024.