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Remembered Today:

Spare a thought for Pte Corsie


Peter Woodger
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Hi

I do not wish to steal the thread on Rehallowing the Grave at Bray sur Somme so I have started this one.

During all this celebration please spare a thought for Private Corsie. His body was originally buried in the same temporary grave as the man buried next to Phillips. The French exhumed the body of Collins and reburied it in Bray Vale but Corsie’s body was either lost or not found. Mrs Corsie was very upset and threatened to take the IWGC to court for negligence. After what was termed exhaustive research which included exhuming the body of Collins to see if Corsie was still with him it was decided that since the Unknown next to Collins was the only other body found at the same location then it must be Corsie.

After diligent research to which we are not party the grave now belongs to Phillips and Corsie is “Believed to be” in Cote 80 where he is the only casualty of his battalion and his stone replaces what for years had been an Unknown Australian. It seems most strange that the French would exhume 2 bodies from one grave, take one to Bray Vale and the other to Cote 80 which is a French cemetery into which the French were concentrating their own dead from Cote 77 but there has never been a mention that they took Australians there.

So which do we cease to believe.

1. That Corsie was originally buried in the same grave as Collins

2. That exhaustive research that was carried out by IWGC in 1923

3. That Corsie is buried in Cote 80.

Peter

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Hi

I do not wish to steal the thread on Rehallowing the Grave at Bray sur Somme so I have started this one.

During all this celebration please spare a thought for Private Corsie. His body was originally buried in the same temporary grave as the man buried next to Phillips. The French exhumed the body of Collins and reburied it in Bray Vale but Corsie’s body was either lost or not found. Mrs Corsie was very upset and threatened to take the IWGC to court for negligence. After what was termed exhaustive research which included exhuming the body of Collins to see if Corsie was still with him it was decided that since the Unknown next to Collins was the only other body found at the same location then it must be Corsie.

After diligent research to which we are not party the grave now belongs to Phillips and Corsie is “Believed to be” in Cote 80 where he is the only casualty of his battalion and his stone replaces what for years had been an Unknown Australian. It seems most strange that the French would exhume 2 bodies from one grave, take one to Bray Vale and the other to Cote 80 which is a French cemetery into which the French were concentrating their own dead from Cote 77 but there has never been a mention that they took Australians there.

So which do we cease to believe.

1. That Corsie was originally buried in the same grave as Collins

2. That exhaustive research that was carried out by IWGC in 1923

3. That Corsie is buried in Cote 80.

Peter

Peter,

Perhaps the thread shuold be called 'spare a thought for Pte Corsie and his mother' as her distress is quite obvious in her letters. Let me clarify a few things for everone. Pte Corsie was never buried in Bray Vale Cemetery and the 3 year investigation into his whereabouts failed to find any unidentified casualty in any cemetery that came from his field burial map reference (62D L.13.b.1.9). Pte Pillips was exhumed as an unknown Australian and buried next to Pte Jack Collins, also of the 33rd and killed in Auguist 22 (like Pte Corsie). Pte Collins and Pte Phillips share identical field burial map references (L.7.c. central). The decision made in 1923 was based on hand writing that was added to Pte Collins' battalion cross (Also Pte Corsie). I have the photo of this cross which is still held by the Collins family. The records showed that Collins and Phillips were the only two exhumations from L.7.C. and both bodies were concentrated into Bray Vale II.C.14. AND 13 respectively. The Corsie map refernce is around 400 yards distant from the map references of Collins and Phillips. Therefore it is impossible for the grave that was allocated to Corsie to hold his remains, but the decision was made and that is how it has stayed all of these years. In their submission to the CWGC in 2005 the OAWG stated that this error occurred due to "an overriding desire to locate the remains of Pte Corsie for his mother". I'm afraid that overriding desire was prompted not only by threats of litigation, but threats by Mrs Corsie to 'show the world how her sons body had been respected". I wish it was an administrative error but I'm afraid it wasn't. The decision to exhume Pte Collins in 1922 was a last ditch effort to see if there were 2 bodies in the grave. There weren't, only the remains of Jack Collins was in grave 14. The Australian casualties in Cote 80 are a mixture of direct burials in August 1918 and exhumations post war. The decision to allocate a 'Believed to Be" headstone over Grave 7 in Cote 80 was put forward by the OAWG and accepted by the CWGC. I'd rather not comment on the accuracy of that decision. It was based on the fact that the Corsie field burial map reference is very close to Cote 80. If there was any information held by the CWGC to back things up I was not privvy to it. It is interesting to note that Pte Corsie shares the identical map reference to Pte Oswald Tittle (33rd BN) who was exhumed, identified and reburied in Bray Military Cemetery. I believe this cemetery would be the most likely to hold Pte Corsie but no other burials there came from L.13.b.1.9. To throw another spanner in the works the body dessity map for this square shows a number 1, which is likely to refer to Pte Tittle's grave registration or exhumation. IMHO after 11 yearts I believe he may still be on the battlefield. To save any more confusion Peter I could give you my research to browse so things are a bit clearer for you. Its very difficult to figure out what happened just by the service records alsone. Feel free to e-mail me. Regards, Scott.

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Scott

I would very much like to see your research, partly to see the work on Corsie but also to see your research methods from which I would hope to learn.

Grateful thanks Peter

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Hi

I have read the convincing case that Scott has put up and now believe thae answer to which of the three points we should cease to believe is all three.

Peter

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