Jump to content
Great War Forum

Remembered Today:

Sign in to follow this  
Uncle George

Anzac skull

Recommended Posts

voltaire60
15 minutes ago, Blackblue said:

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

 

 

   As well as the other 151 Australian dead of 3rd October 1917.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Blackblue

 

31 minutes ago, voltaire60 said:

 

 

   As well as the other 151 Australian dead of 3rd October 1917.

 

As well as the other 579 Commonwealth dead of 3rd of October 1917.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
voltaire60
7 hours ago, Blackblue said:

 

 

As well as the other 579 Commonwealth dead of 3rd of October 1917.

 

   Fair go-   I would be interested, as it's down your way, if there will be any extra bit of attention given when the name of Hurdis comes up for projection on 8th Nov. Hopefully, an announcement of ID (or not) may be known by then.

 

     Pip,pip

         Mike

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Ghazala

A very interesting post.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Blackblue
3 hours ago, voltaire60 said:

 

   Fair go-   I would be interested, as it's down your way, if there will be any extra bit of attention given when the name of Hurdis comes up for projection on 8th Nov. Hopefully, an announcement of ID (or not) may be known by then.

 

     Pip,pip

         Mike

 

 

Here's hoping Mike.

 

Tim D

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
John_Hartley

LATEST UPDATE..............

 

Australian authorities confirm our findings that the skull is that of Thomas Hurdis. And the Museum announces it is to be returned to the Australian military attache in the US for burial with the rest of his remains. at Le Treport. Very fitting that today is the centenary of Thomas' death.

 

http://www.philly.com/philly/news/pennsylvania/philadelphia/mutter-museum-skull-australia-soldier-anzac-world-war-20171003.html

 

Presumably our mates from the Fromelles project will be pushing for DNA testing to see if it can help to identify his brother amongst the "known unto God" burials at Pheasant Wood Cemetery.

 

 

Edited by John_Hartley

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Uncle George

A satisfying conclusion. RIP, now, Thomas Hurdis.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
John_Hartley

Thanks for starting the whole thing off for us on the forum.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Simon_Fielding

A great outcome - rest in peace.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
depaor01

A great result. Well done all who contributed. 

Dave

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Simon_Fielding

I tweeted the story above and there's a nice response from the DGCWGC

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
alastaircox

In theory the DNA may be able to identify the brother, John, but it is unlikely that the skull will have any usable DNA, de-natured bone doesn't. The teeth are the key, depending on their state of preservation. Even if a good sample can be extracted, there are many other factors that could prevent a successful identification. It has got to be worth a try, one would think, for the relatively small costs involved.

 

 

Edited by alastaircox
removed text

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
PhilB
On ‎27‎/‎09‎/‎2017 at 14:00, helpjpl said:

'By the courtesy of the British Medical Services, the privilege was extended to us shortly after our arrival of collecting material for a museum collection of Military Pathology. Over two hundred wet and dry specimens were gathered from autopsies and operative material, and later presented by the Unit to the Mutter Museum of the college of Physicians, where they are now on exhibition.'

https://archive.org/stream/historypennsylv01goog#page/n318/mode/2up

 

JP

 

Is it the considered opinion of contributors that a Museum of Military Pathology (containing specimen examples of injuries, presumably for the training of military doctors in the treatment of casualties of war) is a good or bad thing?:unsure:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Seclin

Good news that the Mutter Museum has agreed to hand over the skull of Thomas Hurdis but that will not be straight away. 

“The Mütter Museum has invited Brigadier S.L Gabriel, DSC, Military Attaché of the Embassy of Australia, to visit the collection and to hear of the Museum’s efforts and commitment to medical history preservation and scientific research.”

Really. No walk around the museum would alter the facts of this case, of a soldier  whose name was known to Dr W T Shoemaker  who supposedly treated him at le Tréport. Thomas was not ‘lost’ on the battlefield and any archivist in any museum worth their salt could have been able to trace the soldier’s identity in 3 easy steps (even if they did not already know), for the Mutter Museum had themselves put the relevant facts on display. He was an Australian, died at le Tréport, dates of injuries and death plus the donor,  Dr. W T Shoemaker.

Oh! But that was only up till the last week or so, that the said medico was displayed as the donor.  Now the donor has been altered by the museum in their statement and is now claimed to have been the British Government.

“The Museum was first contacted by the Australian Army in August 2017 regarding the skull, which was given to the Museum in 1919 by the British government, supervised by the British Medical Services.” As stated by the museum. Mmmm .

Passing the buck one might say!

This discrepancy was spoken of in Paul Daley’s article of today in the Guardian https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2017/oct/04/us-museum-to-hand-over-skull-of-australian-soldier

My point to all this is:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    There is much talk re repatriation of body parts on an international basis. How on earth can one expect a positive start to any negotiations, let alone the outcome, if the museums cannot be truthful about the facts of provenance, even tripping themselves up in the process of deceit?

I still maintain that the extent of Thomas’ injuries were such that his display served no useful purpose in the training of medicos of that time and was some sort  of trophy. Consider the amount of shattered bone. Skin grafts alone were in their infancy at the time and there were no antibiotics.

Only when the Australians have Thomas’ skull can we really feel his body part is returning to where it should lie, in the cemetery at le Tréport.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
voltaire60
27 minutes ago, PhilB said:

Is it the considered opinion of contributors that a Museum of Military Pathology (containing specimen examples of injuries, presumably for the training of military doctors in the treatment of casualties of war) is a good or bad thing?:unsure:

 

      I think the pros and cons of miliitary pathology-and the retention of stuff should be the subject of a separate thread. That subject has legs and a long way to go-but should not overlap with the thread about Thomas Hurdis-where that individual story is not yet ended.

12 minutes ago, Seclin said:

Good news that the Mutter Museum has agreed to hand over the skull of Thomas Hurdis but that will not be straight away. 

 

“The Mütter Museum has invited Brigadier S.L Gabriel, DSC, Military Attaché of the Embassy of Australia, to visit the collection and to hear of the Museum’s efforts and commitment to medical history preservation and scientific research.”

 

Really. No walk around the museum would alter the facts of this case, of a soldier  whose name was known to Dr W T Shoemaker  who supposedly treated him at le Tréport. Thomas was not ‘lost’ on the battlefield and any archivist in any museum worth their salt could have been able to trace the soldier’s identity in 3 easy steps (even if they did not already know), for the Mutter Museum had themselves put the relevant facts on display. He was an Australian, died at le Tréport, dates of injuries and death plus the donor,  Dr. W T Shoemaker.

 

Oh! But that was only up till the last week or so, that the said medico was displayed as the donor.  Now the donor has been altered by the museum in their statement and is now claimed to have been the British Government.

 

“The Museum was first contacted by the Australian Army in August 2017 regarding the skull, which was given to the Museum in 1919 by the British government, supervised by the British Medical Services.” As stated by the museum. Mmmm .

 

Passing the buck one might say!

 

This discrepancy was spoken of in Paul Daley’s article of today in the Guardian https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2017/oct/04/us-museum-to-hand-over-skull-of-australian-soldier

 

My point to all this is:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    There is much talk re repatriation of body parts on an international basis. How on earth can one expect a positive start to any negotiations, let alone the outcome, if the museums cannot be truthful about the facts of provenance, even tripping themselves up in the process of deceit?

I still maintain that the extent of Thomas’ injuries were such that his display served no useful purpose in the training of medicos of that time and was some sort  of trophy. Consider the amount of shattered bone. Skin grafts alone were in their infancy at the time and there were no antibiotics.

 

Only when the Australians have Thomas’ skull can we really feel his body part is returning to where it should lie, in the cemetery at le Tréport.

 

 

   Think this should be on a separate  thread, as above.

Edited by voltaire60

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Uncle George
28 minutes ago, PhilB said:

Is it the considered opinion of contributors that a Museum of Military Pathology (containing specimen examples of injuries, presumably for the training of military doctors in the treatment of casualties of war) is a good or bad thing?:unsure:

 

It seems to me that there was simply a lack of respect in this instance. In his article of 25 September, Paul Daley tells us of the museum "exhibit" (which itself is a chilling word in this context): 

 

Click on the icon reading “OUCH” and the illustration highlights the shrapnel damage to the soldier’s jaw ... 

 

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/postcolonial-blog/2017/sep/25/the-anzac-skull-that-tells-a-shocking-and-tragic-story-of-battlefield-violence

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Chasemuseum

At a surgical field hospital in war time, a great deal of human flesh medical waste is generated. This is normally burned or buried in a waste pit.  If specimens are collected for scientific study this really should not be an issue. The bureaucracy of trying to track patient consent with individual specimens is not justifiable.

 

However the removal of the entire head at an autopsy, is not a discarded amputation but rather a major modification of a corpse. This was not right nor proper, not in 1917, not now in 2017. The surgeon who did this was clearly exceeding the intent of the authority to collect and if RAMC authorities were aware of his actions, their failure to intervene was also improper. This story brings no credit to the various medical services.

 

The recovery of the skull and the internment with the rest of the remains is fitting and proper.

 

This should never have been an issue of negotiations, between the Museum and Australian authorities. The museum should have sought out the repatriation of the specimen when they first realised that it was an inappropriate accession back in the early 1920s. Certainly once the Australian Government first asked for the return it should have only been a matter of processing the de-accession with due diligence and in a dignified manner.

 

The ultimate outcome is good, but this situation should never have occurred in the first place.

Regards

RT

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Auimfo

It's a great outcome and I'm really pleased to see that his remains will finally be laid to rest - complete.  However I do think there's a few unfair assessments of the Museum and Dr Shoemaker.  The fact is that the British Medical Services permitted the U.S. Base Hospital to gather samples of military pathology for research and training and then organised for them to be sent to the U.S. via the Royal College of Surgeons in London.  So the Museum is correct on both scores and isn't trying to hide anything.  They were donated by Dr Shoemaker with both the assistance and authority of the British Medical Services.

 

Although the removal of  an entire head does seem a little excessive, it certainly wasn't a case of gruesome souveniring by the doctor.  

 

The only thing I can find a little in poor taste was perhaps the 'OUCH' button on the museum website but other than that I don't believe we need to be making mountains out of molehills.

 

Cheers,

Tim L.

Edited by Auimfo

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
PhilB
2 hours ago, Chasemuseum said:

 

 

However the removal of the entire head at an autopsy, is not a discarded amputation but rather a major modification of a corpse. This was not right nor proper, not in 1917, not now in 2017. 

RT

 

Wouldn`t taking only "discarded amputations" mean only having legs and arms as pathological specimens? That rather limits the scope of the museum.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
voltaire60
4 hours ago, Seclin said:

I still maintain that the extent of Thomas’ injuries were such that his display served no useful purpose in the training of medicos of that time and was some sort  of trophy.

   We could try waiting to see what Mutter show the Oz Military Attache when he visits.  Are you medically qualified?  Any particular Royal College?  RCS?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Uncle George

High Wood

 

Ladies and gentlemen, this is High Wood, 
Called by the French, Bois des Fourneaux, 
The famous spot which in Nineteen-Sixteen, 
July, August and September was the scene 
Of long and bitterly contested strife, 
By reason of its High commanding site. 
Observe the effect of shell-fire in the trees 
Standing and fallen; here is wire; this trench 
For months inhabited, twelve times changes hands; 
(They soon fall in), used later as a grave. 
It has been said on good authority 
That in the fighting for this patch of wood 
Were killed somewhere above eight thousand men, 
Of whom the greater part were buried here, 
This mound on which you stand being ... 
        Madame, please,

 

You are requested kindly not to touch 
Or take away the Company's property 
As souvenirs; you'll find we have on sale 
A large variety, all guaranteed. 
As I was saying, all is as it was, 
This is an unknown British officer, 
The tunic having lately rotten off. 
Please follow me - this way ... 
        The path, sir, please,

The ground which was secured at great expense 
The Company keeps absolutely untouched, 
And in that dug-out (genuine) we provide 
Refreshments at a reasonable rate. 
You are requested not to leave about 
Paper, or ginger-beer bottles, or orange-peel, 
There are waste-paper baskets at the gate.

 

PHILIP JOHNSTONE, 1918

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Chasemuseum
12 hours ago, PhilB said:

Wouldn`t taking only "discarded amputations" mean only having legs and arms as pathological specimens? That rather limits the scope of the museum.

Not in the least. Discarded material from surgical process and pathological specimens from autopsies would have been quite adequate.

 

"Head hunting" from the fallen where neither the soldier nor next of kin have given consent - that was just as improper then as it would be now.

 

Certainly that skull illustrates the nature of multiple bullet injuries from a shrapnel shell and the damage they can inflict. I would have thought that any doctor could readily visualize multiple projectile trauma and that that skull would have been of limited value in teaching how to triage and manage the individual wounds.

RT

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Auimfo

I can't really comment on the why/how or ethics of obtaining the specimen but I'm pretty sure no one had any intention to cause family or descendants any grief.  As for the Mutter Museum, they're just recipients of the items donated to them and can hardly be held accountable for any alleged immoral behaviour.

 

The Museum should be given credit for so quickly understanding how important this was to Australians and offering the item's return to be reunited with his remains.  

 

Cheers,

Tim L.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...