The Searchers

The Quest for the Lost of the First World War

The Searchers
Robert Sackville-West
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By the end of the First World War, the whereabouts of more than half a million British soldiers were unknown. Most were presumed dead, lost forever under the battlefields of northern France and Flanders. This, however, was only the beginning of a search that would span a century: from the department set up to investigate the fate of missing comrades in the war' s aftermath, to the present day, when DNA profiling continues to aid efforts to recover, identify and honour these men. As the rest of the country found ways to repair and move on, countless families were consumed by this mission, undertaking arduous, often hopeless, journeys to discover what happened to their husbands, brothers and sons. In The Searchers, Robert Sackville-West brings together the extraordinary, moving accounts of those who dedicated their lives to the search for the missing. These stories reveal the remarkable lengths to which people will go to give meaning to their loss: the Lodges' communication with their dead son' s spirit; the Kiplings' quest for their son' s grave; E. M. Forster' s conversations with traumatised soldiers in hospital in Alexandria; the campaign to establish the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior; and the exhumation and reburial in military cemeteries of hundreds of thousands of bodies. Giving prominence to the deep, personal battles of those left behind, The Searchers brings the legacy of war vividly to life in a testament to the bravery, compassion and resilience of the human spirit.
A marvellous book - a gripping story, superbly researched and related with grace and humour in elegant, enjoyable prose -- Praise for ' The Disinherited' * Literary Review * His extraordinary research uncovers a world of shadows lying within inches of his family' s official history, and he enters into it with sympathy and understanding -- Praise for ' The Disinherited' * Economist * Immaculately written . . . A fascinating picture of a forgotten underside of English aristocratic and public life -- Praise for ' The Disinherited' * Observer *
After studying History at Oxford University, Robert Sackville-West worked in publishing. He now chairs Knole Estates, the property and investment company which - in parallel with the National Trust - runs the Sackville family' s interests at Knole, the house in Kent where his family have lived for the past 400 years. Robert is the author of the critically acclaimed Inheritance: The Story of Knole and the Sackvilles (2010) and The Disinherited (2014).