The World War I Battlefields of France
In August 2016, my wife, Barb, and I along with our Pennsylvania neighbor, Russ, visited friends in Normandy, France. During that sojourn, Russ and I broke away for a few days and toured the British Empire battlefields of the Somme, Vimy Ridge and Ypres. While on this sobering visit, I put on my genealogy hat and looked for any Hollyman (Holliman) graves.
DNA testing confirmed that I am a descendant of Christopher Hollyman (1618-1691) who immigrated to Virginia in 1650 from Bedford, Bedfordshire and a distant cousin of Englishman Lindsay Holliman. Both of us have paper trails back to the Cuddington, Buckinghamshire Hollimans in the 1500s, and are possibly descended from the High Wycombe Hollymans of the 1300s. So those Hollimans (Hollymans) who fought in the Great War are, one could easily argue, my distant cousins, and also most of you who are casting your eyes on this page.
I did not find any gravestones, but I found several names on monuments, and in the words of the poet Rudyard Kipling who lost his only son at Ypres, Belgium, they are known 'Only unto God' as their bodies were never recovered. They were blasted into bits by artillery fire or ground into the mud, never found, never returned to their families or even one of the seemingly countless British Commonwealth cemeteries that dot northwestern France and southwestern Belgium.
It was at the Thiepval Monument at the Somme near Albert, France that I found the first name. A Book of Remembrance is available at all cemeteries and monuments listing the names on the memorial or graves.