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History Corner







Wade Davis On Cremation In Britain After The FWW


Wade Davis, Into the Silence: The Great War, Mallory, and the Conquest of Everest (New York: Alfred A. Knopf; 2011), p. 233.


‘In the 1890s the practice of cremation hardly existed, with fewer than a hundred bodies being so disposed in all of Britain in a year; by the 1920s cremation was the choice of tens of thousands.

Daily exposure [in the war trenches] to the horror of rotting flesh and bodies gnawed by rats made it seem a clean, pure, and highly desirable alternative to burial.

If faith and traditional religion were among the casualties of the war, the rivers of dead inversely caused a surge of interest in unconventional notions of the spirit, the more esoteric the better, for mystics and oracles, mediums and soothsayers all promised the possibility, however remote, that communication with the dead might be achievable.’