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Uncle George

Anzac skull

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John_Hartley

Excellent second article in the Guardian's Australia edition which, I presume, is down to Tim getting the results of our research to the journo.

 

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2017/sep/29/us-museum-under-fire-over-display-of-skull-of-australian-soldier

 

I really hope that the work we've done here can result in the museum making the "right decision"  in time for the centenary of the man's death, next week.

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Simon_Fielding

What a great bit of journalism and so good to see the human story behind the records 'out there'. Hope it has the desired effect! 

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Uncle George
12 minutes ago, Simon_Fielding said:

What a great bit of journalism ...

 

Yes. It is difficult to forget the muted outrage of his " ... Even had he contemplated dying in war (what soldier who volunteers to go off and fight does not?) could he ever have imagined that his head would become a museum collection item and an object of popular curiosity?"

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Gardenerbill

Fascinating topic and great work by the forum pals well done so far. Hopefully the right thing will be done soon.

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Seclin

Watching the amateur sleuths on the forum and their fast progress of ‘probable’ identification of the skull over the last 3 days, I was all the time hoping for a slowing of pace, yet knowing the path to identification was lit as with diamonds  in the moonlight. (How could anyone have believed the skull was unidentifiable when it carried its own ID even in the museum, by the information they displayed?)

Rest assured that the Australian authorities have been on to it and they have been working for a resolution, but they wanted nothing to upset these negotiations. Please be aware of that and in future discussions here while negotiations continue.

 After the Guardian came out with the first article there was a request by the authorities not to ‘talk to anyone’ for fear negotiations could break down.

Whether through negotiation or through huge public outcry (which I now personally hope for) I feel sure the skull will be returned France.

 I sense a can of worms has been opened!

With so many personal records in the public domain, not much remains private. However, I do say that part of the discussion on the forum was handled in a respectful way. Long time since I have heard the word ‘tearaway’.

Thank you.

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voltaire60

   Good news that the Oz authorities are on the case- naive to think they were not already but a nudge from GWF does no harm.  Just a thought that Mutter might comment on in due course- Dr. Shoemaker was an opthalmologist of distinction. His actions, though gruesome to the man in the street of today, involved no improper conduct by him or any other "authority" of the time. The Mutter has  has done nothing wrong. But Thomas Hurdis has been "outed"- the developments in technology and digitisation of records made that a task that could not be foreseen in 1917.

    As he was an opthalmologist, I suspect it is highly likely that Thomas Hurdis lost his right eye as well as the bone injuries only too evident. Keeping a "dry" skull would only make sense given Shoemaker's  specialism if he had kept the case notes as well. I hope that Mutter might hold them and disclose them. There seems little point in retaining the actual skull given high resolution and 3D photography techniques available today This is a story that brings home the true horror of war. I, for one, would rather have a respectful consensus as to the final resting place of all his remains -but his tale  ought to be made known to a wider audience-in a respectful way- to show that war  really is Hell.

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John_Hartley
22 minutes ago, voltaire60 said:

His actions, though gruesome to the man in the street of today, involved no improper conduct by him

I'm less convinced on this than you.

 

This is not the collection of a battlefield find but the deliberate and, to my mind, callous removal of the head from the corpse of a patient. It is, IMO, made worse by the fact that this was taken not for medical examination but as a "scientific trophy" taken for display in a museum. I find it hard to see the morality in that, or any respect for the man and his sacrifice, even allowing for this being a different time.

 

John

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Simon_Fielding
2 hours ago, Seclin said:

Long time since I have heard the word ‘tearaway’

 

It's up there with 'you young rip' 'scallywag' etc... 

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Seclin

I agree with John that Thomas' head was 'a trophy', maybe even used to gain some strange sort of recognition from his peers - who knows. Hardly could it be used for teaching reconstructive surgery particularly in that day and age - such were the injuries.

 

On another note:

It was late 2008 and the Fromelles  team were seeking DNA samples. I suggested that the closest match to Jonathan Hurdis would be his brother  Thomas lying in the le Treport cemetery. The reply over the phone was one of ‘shock, horror’. “We can’t do that”. Why not if relatives give consent?

Had they taken that course of action, the story would have been quite different to what we see today in many ways, but no less horrific.

Maybe now they will use 'my' suggestion 9 years on, but in a way I would never have perceived! (Of course they will.)

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Guest
6 hours ago, Seclin said:

 Please be aware of that and in future discussions here while negotiations continue.

 

 After the Guardian came out with the first article there was a request by the authorities not to ‘talk to anyone’ for fear negotiations could break down.

 

 

 

Surely they know right from wrong. They could hardly blame us if negotiations broke down. What's to negotiate?

 

Mike

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Seclin

Who knows how the discussions go in these matters if one is not present? Obviously it is not just a case of asking for something  back and walking out the door with an item such as this skull.

The words spoken to me on that phone call earlier this week, left me thinking that they were implying that negotiations  are better done without a ground swell of emotion. However they also knew that after the Guardian article that they could not hold back the tide. It was inevitable you people on the forum would be researching and discussing, as would everyone else who read the article.

There is no blame, nor could there be.

Awareness and discussion surely is healthy. Timing doesn't always work out as one wants and our Oz representatives seemed to want more of it.

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Guest

OK thanks Seclin. Could you tell us what your involvement is in this matter. " There is no blame, nor could there be.  " Not sure that's true if body parts were taken without consent. Just for the record I can't take any credit for any of the Forum's excellent detective work.

 

Mike

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Seclin

Skipman

"There is no blame, nor could there be."

in my reply to you, refers ONLY to YOUR " They could hardly blame us if negotiations broke down." *  - to THAT and NOTHING else.

Please re-read what you wrote in reference to this copy and paste * from your entry, seen above.

Please do NOT imply otherwise.

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keithmroberts

It is great that this skull has been so positively identified, and I trust that it will be reunited with the other remains of this man. What we don't need to do now I suggest is get into an exercise of dotting the i's and crossing the t's.  We now know enough of what happened a century ago, and we have a situation in which it appears appropriate authorities are following this up. On occasion we can take this too far by delving too far into what ultimately will be the trivia of the issue and create issues that are not helpful. Well done to all concerned thus far.

 

 

Keith

 

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Guest
1 hour ago, Seclin said:

Skipman

"There is no blame, nor could there be."

in my reply to you, refers ONLY to YOUR " They could hardly blame us if negotiations broke down." *  - to THAT and NOTHING else.

Please re-read what you wrote in reference to this copy and paste * from your entry, seen above.

Please do NOT imply otherwise.

 

Good morning Seclin. Please believe me I'm not getting at you, or implying anything. Absolutely no offence intended at all. My personal take on this is that this body part, taken without consent, should be put back where it belongs, as quickly as possible. To me, personally, as I mentioned, there's nothing to discuss. I merely meant, as you seem extremely well informed, that perhaps you could tell us what your involvement is.

 

Mike

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keithmroberts

Mike, my involvement is no more or less than yours - that of an interested outsider. I just think that so far as the GWF is concerned the hard yards have been done, no more than that. This is a personal opinion only.

 

Signing off for a few hours at least as I am catching a train to the North shortly

 

 

Keith

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voltaire60

      Note that the name of Thomas Hurdis is next due to be projected at the Australian War Memorial on 8th November. Perhaps a good target date for an announcement re. identification and action.

       There are reports that the Mutter Museum may holds autopsy records  from the US military hospital (which I cannot confirm by search), which may assist.

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seaJane

Re: the exhibition aspect, I have just come, serendipitously, upon this catalogue record. Not for an item in the library I curate, I should add.

 

A guide to the exhibition of the Army Medical Collection of war specimens : opened October 11th, 1917, at the Museum of the Royal College of Surgeons of England. - [London] : Printed by Taylor & Francis, 1917.

 

If I recall correctly this is the collection that was lost when the RCSE took a direct hit during the Blitz.

 

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John_Hartley
seaJane

No luck I'm afraid, John. It's possible to download articles as PDFs and load them as images here, though.

 

sJ

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depaor01

Here you go...

 

 

surgery.jpg.4fad390991207e7332d6976d64d160e8.jpg

Edited by depaor01
Better quality image

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voltaire60

    The article on jstor?  I can try to get it tomorrow- and may have time to pop into Royal College of Surgeons-they are the only located copies of their own booklet on COPAC. I think the question of anatomy in war is properly the subject of another thread-Id there is contention, then leave it until Thomas Hurdis is sorted out.   Tomoorow is the centenry of his death, so let's honour the memory of the man (and his fellow Anzacs of 1917), rather than muddy it with other matters.

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Blackblue

RIP 2919 PTE Thomas Hurdis, 59th Bn AIF.

 

Died of wounds 100 years ago today at Le Treport. Mont Huon Military Cemetery, Le Treport, Haute-Normandie, France.

 

Not forgotten.

 

Rgds

 

Tim D

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