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Still Unburied 2014


Seadog
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This is of course excellent news and the fact that two of the fallen have been identified makes it even better. I am not injecting a sour note into this case but it is important to remember that these men were found in 2009 and it has taken almost four years to reach this stage even when according to the news release there was evidence of identification found with the two now named sets of remains in 2009. I do not understand the CWGC reference to five further unidentified soldiers who are also to be buried in the HAC cemetery on the same day but who are not mentioned in the MOD press release.

The press release is a revelation as I cannot ever remember seeing such a thing published on the internet from the MOD source as detailed. It seems to me that someone somewhere has convinced the MOD to get a move on although sadly many such remains still await a decent burial and we do not know just how many more have been found this year so far which will increase the numbers still outstanding.

2 HAC Identified

2 HAC Unidentified

5 Others? interred in the HAC War Cemetery on the same day but at a separate time.

(Note that the CWGC state that these men will be buried "Earlier that day" but do not specify a time).

Norman.

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Two questions:

Does anyone know where abouts the bodies were found at Bullecourt ?

I thought that Queant Road Cem was the 'open' cemetery for burials in this area or is it just a case that two of them have been identified as HAC soldiers and therefore the HAC Cem is being used for all of them?

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Try an email query to the CWGC; they will have the full report of the finds together with descriptions of any artifacts recovered at the time. It is this report which helps the MOD to confirm any identification that may be possible. As I understand it the report is compiled by the CWGC Exhumation Officer based at Beaurains France and current occupant of this position is Paul Bird although he would not have been responsible for the 2009 report as he was appointed in 2011.

See Posts 317/318

 

Norman

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Thanks for the reply. I've not had too much luck with a previous inquiry to the CWGC. Helpful not !! and i still have a feeling that they have some sort of record somewhere for the question i asked but i got the impression time and again that it was all too much trouble for her.

I will go back to it at some point but i had to leave it for a while if only to calm down. Now i know there is an exhumation officer in Beaurains (something she could have possibly mentioned) i may try a different approach.

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  • 2 weeks later...

They had to wait a long time, but the end was fitting.

RIP

Keith

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A very somber respectful and fitting tribute, rightfully deserved after such a long time. RIP.

Anne

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This is what will happen based on previous cases.

The human remains will be discovered

The CWGC will inform the MOD in the case of the body/remains being British

The MOD will not issue any press release regarding the find

The CWGC will not issue any press release as they insist this is the responsibility of the

MOD

Nothing will be heard of the find for at least 3 years and possibly longer

Will DNA be used if the remains and circumstances are favourable, very unlikely as DNA has not been used as yet by the MOD

After the time period of 3-4 years the remains will ne released by the MOD and buried by

the CWGC as “Known unto God”

The CWGC will post brief details of the burial on their web site

This will be deleted following the burial

End

If you are happy with this state of affairs then so be it.

Norman

Does anyone publish events like this before they happen, so the average person has a chance to attend ?

For the life of me, I keep looking, but seem to find events until after they happen.

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Could we have a thread that would inform people, I learned about the Ecoust st Mein, because another member informed me of it, if we have a thread, then as soon as someone hears about, he could make a posting?

mags

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There were about three threads in which this date was mentioned, and it was also announced on the CWGC website. I'm not sure if it was on theirm monthly e-newsletter, but it was quite widely mentioned and discussed here.

Keith

EDIT Any member could also have added it to the forum calendar.

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Mags, before the MOD agreed that the CWGC publish details of the upcoming interments on their (CWGC) website the only way anyone knew about these was either being at the location on the day or being included on a notification list whereby the CWGC would send an email notification of the upcoming burials. I applied to be on that list and the contact for such notification is as per the details below. Note that this is for Belgium and I assume there must be a similar procedure for France. It has been known that in the past the CWGC has not published such information in time for any intending visitor to pay their respects I therefore suggest you contact the person below and check whether this will also include burials in France. The latest notification to me was received on the 7th February 2013 for a ceremony at Messines on the 25th February 2013.

I hope this will be of help

Norman

Erna Rondelez

Records and General Administrator

Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Elverdingestraat 82, Ieper, B-8900, Belgium

Tel: +32 (0) 57223636 | Ext: 4536 | Direct: +32 (0) 57221536 | Mobile: +32 (0) 473822249 | Fax: +32(0) 57218014

Email: erna.rondelez@cwgc.org

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  • 2 weeks later...

To Lord Faulkner 10/5/13

THE ALL PARTY WAR HERITAGE GROUP

Dear Lord Faulkner

Outstanding Burials of British Armed Forces Remains

You will of course be aware of the recent reburial of two named soldiers of the Honorable Artillery Company plus a further seven unnamed that took place on the 23rd April 2013 in France all within the same war cemetery. The remains were discovered in August 2009 so that it has taken almost four years for the MOD to decide to hand the remains over to the CWGC for final burial.

I have requested that you endeavor to obtain the current total number of individual British armed forces human remains at present in the custodianship of the CWGC awaiting deliberation from the appropriate MOD department before being released for a dignified burial. May I therefore ask you again to press the MOD for this information which in my opinion can and should be placed in the public domain. I have genuine fears that the MOD are completely unable to expedite their responsibilities in this matter and that this is possibly the reason why the information is so difficult to obtain.

I can see no logical reason for such secrecy and I very much hope that you will be able to obtain clarification of this matter as soon as possible. For your information I also append a link to a recent newspaper article which although not concerned with the subject of my request will I believe be of interest detailing as it does an unsuccessful (so far) attempt by the MOD to identify a WW2 pilot and which appears to cast the MOD in a very poor light indeed.

Newspaper article

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2321443/Mystery-WWII-airman-went-missing-desert-Family-devastated-told-bones-near-downed-craft-tested-DNA.html

Regards etc

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  • 2 weeks later...

Reply received from Lord Faulkner today and my response:-

From Lord Faulkner:

I have today heard from the CWGC that there are the remains of 75 British soldiers in their mortuary in Arras.

Regards,

Richard Faulkner

My Response to Lord Faulkner

Dear Lord Faulkner

Thank you for the information which is greatly appreciated. This is to my recollection the first time that the number of outstanding human remains held by the CWGC has been made known. I am sure that you share with me my feelings of utter shame and disgust that such a number of our armed forces await a decent and respectful burial no matter how fragmentary some of their remains are.

This present state of affairs cannot be right and I urge you and your group to make every effort to ensure that these men get the treatment that they deserve for we owe them this nothing more and nothing less. In my opinion there is a scandal here which is no fault of the CWGC but the responsibility for which rests firmly with the MOD who have proved incapable of discharging their duty to make every effort to identify the remains where possible before releasing them to the CWGC for burial.

I thank you once again and ask that you keep me informed of any progress that you and your colleagues are able to make in order that this sad affair is brought to a proper conclusion and that in future our dead will be accorded the treatment that they so richly deserve.

Regards

Norman

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  • 2 weeks later...

A very interesting article in the current “Britain at War” magazine concerning the recovery of the remains of Australian Army war casualties from which I quote the following as detailed in the article.

“The Unrecovered War Casualties – Army (UWC-A) is the Australian Army Unit that scours the old battlefields of Asia, Europe and the Pacific with the sole purpose of recovering, identifying and providing a fitting interment in a military cemetery for long-lost servicemen. Their work achieves when successful, a closure that is not only very important to relatives and friends, but to the nation as a whole.

The present UWC-A team consists of three full-time staff members ; Brian Manns, the Manager and two investigation case managers, Alan Cooper for Europe and Ms Dale Morley for Asia-Pacific. There is also a team of nine Army Reserve Officers, who undertake the roles of investigator and researcher, and a forensic osteologist (who is involved in the study of bones). In addition, and when required, the UWC-A employs additional Reserve officers from all branches of the armed forces who have the appropriate skills such as physical anthropology, odontology and archaeology, the unit can also call upon Army Reserve pathologists as required”

Compare this with our own MOD unit who are so badly staffed and resourced that at this time 75 individual sets of human remains (CWGC figure) are in the custodianship of the CWGC awaiting the JCCC unit of the MOD to complete their investigations (if any) before they are given a decent burial. Members will be aware that in the above figure is included the BL-15 found 2009 and intended to be buried in 2014 a full five years after their discovery. Note also how the details of the UWC-A unit are freely available which is the opposite of the secrecy and total lack of transparency shown by the British equivalent.

Thanks to Britain at War magazine for yet another excellent article from which the above quote is but a small part.

Regards

Norman

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  • 6 months later...

Recently received a communication from the CWGC of which this quote was a part:

"We have an agreement in place with UK MoD which requires burial for British casualties to be achieved within 18 months of the remains recovery".

This appears to be so at odds with the actual situation that I have requested from the CWGC the details of the number of remains found by year still in their custody awaiting release by the MOD. Mind you bearing in mind how these two orgaisations operate I do not hold out much hope for a reply.

Norman


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  • 3 weeks later...

The response from the CWGC following my request for the number of human remains in their custody by year of discovery and which also included reference to the large number of soldiers remains which are still unburied,.

Thank you for the email below addressed to my colleague Liz Woodfield, which has been passed to me for response. I understand from my contacts at the MoD, that they have been asked to supply an answer to your question about the number of remains currently awaiting burial at the Commission’s mortuary in France. I will therefore leave it to the MoD to answer this element of your enquiry.

I can confirm that the Commission response provided previously related specifically to the comments made about the two sets of remains recently recovered from the road works outside of the Ulster Tower, as these are new cases the 18 month timescale agreed with MoD can be applied. Turning to the wider issue of outstanding cases of recovered remains in the Commission’s care, the points made in your email below are valid, there are still a significant number of cases waiting to be progressed to burial. To start addressing this matter 5 burials were progressed in France during August 2013 and subsequently a challenging burial programme running from March until October of 2014 has been agreed with MoD. It is hoped that this response, along with the information to be supplied by the MoD, illustrates that the issue raised has been acknowledged and that the MoD and Commission are working together to progress cases of recovered remains to burial within a reasonable timescale.

Nic Andrews

Commemorations Policy Manager

Note the comment about the 18 months timescale which appears to be a very recent change. I am guessing that this welcome change has come about because the MOD have recognized that there is a problem, however in order to adhere to the new timescale either additional resources are required or, and I do not think this is likely, attempts at identification are scaled down and the majority of the fallen are buried as unknowns.

Norman

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Thanks for the update, Norman.

PS. You may want to update the title to "Still unburied 2014"

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See below for the latest announcement of the reburial of soldiers remains discovered on the battlefields. A total of 20 sets of remains will be buried on the 14th March 2014 at Loos British Cemetery. Details should also appear on the CWGC website. Thanks to David Tattersfield of the WFA for this news.

Link

http://www.westernfrontassociation.com/news/newsflash/3538-reburial-of-private-william-mcaleer-and-19-unknown-british-soldiers-of-the-first-world-war-at-loos-british-cemetery.html

Norman

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The CWGC have posted this today:

http://www.cwgc.org/news-events/news/2014/3/reinterment-at-loos.aspx

Private McAleer

The remains of Private William McAleer from the 7th Battalion The Royal Scottish Fusiliers, were discovered near Lens in northern France three years ago during construction work. It is hoped the soldier’s relatives can be traced and given the chance to take part in his re-interment and memorial service. He was killed in action on September 26, 1915 during the Battle of Loos, a major 
offensive that marked Britain’s first use of poison gas in the war.

He was discovered in the year 2010 it will therefore be four years between his discovery and eventual burial.

Norman

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This just posted on the BBC website, sorry if its already covered but I haven't read all the threads.

Ministry DNA sample search from WW1 soldier's relatives.

The living relatives of a World War One soldier whose remains were discovered in northern France are being sought by the Ministry of Defence (MoD).

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-25779830

Mick.

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Thanks for spotting this and for posting the link. It would be good if this man was identified and given the dignity of a named burial. It must have been a shock for the householders to discover the grave in their garden as the report states.

Regards

Norman

Added; The article omits contact details for the MOD so here they are

Lynne Gammond

Army Media Communication Team

Tel : 03067-701322

Email: Lynne.gammond453@mod.uk

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As a 'newbie' I have really appreciated reading this thread,very very enlightening.

Thank You,Seadog on behalf of those soldiers found recently and those who may yet be discovered.

Your obvious passion for them to be treated fairly is really quite refreshing.

More power to your elbow, and yes most indigenous people of the UK DO indeed care.

Most are of the mistaken assumption that these men have been,and will be,given the compassion and care they justly deserve for their sacrifice.

How mistaken they appear to be ?

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