Welsh project revives Cdn history with QR codes

St Margaret's Church in Bodelwyddan. (Facebook/HO)

St Margaret's Church in Bodelwyddan. (Facebook/HO)

Sheena Goodyear, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:11 PM ET

Tourists visiting a historic church in Wales will now be able to use their smartphones to learn the history behind the more than 80 Canadian war graves that line the churchyard.

The graves — located outside St. Margaret's Church in Bodelwyddan, which attracts thousands of visitors — are now marked with QR codes. When a tourist scans the code with a smartphone camera, it will automatically download an information package detailing the history behind the graves.

"A lot of people stop there to have a look a this lovely architecture, and the first thing you see when you get out of the car are several rows of war graves, and they're all connected to Canadians," said journalist Rhodri Clark, founder of HistoryPoints, which tags historical locations around Wales with QR codes so people can learn more about their significance.

"They were a bit of a mystery. It was certainly a mystery to me the first time I saw it, and I think a lot of people were stopping at these graves, wondering what they were and not finding any information."

So, with the help of local historians, databases and organizations, the HistoryPoints team unravelled that mystery. Now the story behind the graves, as well as names and hometowns of those buried there, can be found at HistoryPoints.org.

The soldiers had been stationed at a nearby camp during the First World War. They died during a flu epidemic shortly after the fighting ended. Most succumbed to illness, while at least five died during a riot in February 1919, which reportedly broke out when ships earmarked to take home instead left them stranded.

Instead, the ships transported U.S. soldiers, many of whom had apparently not seen war action -- a fact that infuriated the stranded Canadians.

"Some of them had just arrived in Britain," said Clark.

Four of the riot's victims are buried at St. Margaret's Church. The gravestone of one solider killed in the riot bears the inscription: "Someday, sometime, we'll understand."

The soldiers are from all over Canada, and Clark urges anyone who knows about them to get in touch so they can post pictures and as much information as possible.


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