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Michael Thomson

How are potential human remains dealt with in the Somme?

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Michael Thomson

Hello. 

 

I was wondering how human remains from the Great War are dealt with in the Somme battlefield area today? I'm not talking about whole skeletons , which are of indisputably human origin and which I'd imagine are only very rarely found, but rather small bone fragments which may or may not come from a human being. 

 

The reason I ask is that on two separate occasions I have found small bone fragments which looked very much like they could come from a human being judging by their size and shape (a piece of what looked like arm or leg bone in the farm field just behind the car park at the Newfoundland Memorial Park and a piece of what looked like a rib bone between the Lochnagar crater and La Boiselle). 

 

Of course, these may have been animal bones, there's no way to tell, and I did not disturb them, but is there a process that is followed or anywhere one should report these remains to? 

 

Considering the fate of so many of the men who fought there, it is not inconcievable that human bone fragments would still be present. 

 

Interesting to find out. 

 

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depaor01

I believe small fragments are ignored - as they are in graveyards here. The police would be none too pleased if called for every piece of bone. Most recent of many discussions here:

 

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David Filsell

Rather more years ago than I remember on a visit with two pals to the Somme in the famous Sunken Road we found what appeared to be a shoulder blade in passing projecting through the base of the hedging . We had seen a CWCC vehicle near by and , literally, cased after it. The gardener took all the details and said he would report it. He most certainly did so and  and some weeks later we were informed it by the Commission that they had examined the bone. It was that of a s sheep. Nevertheless I  was impressed by the diligence shown. 

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Hedley Malloch

On the few occasions I have found what look to my untrained eye to look like human remains in the battlefields, I take them to the nearest CWGC cemetery, make a shallow scrape with my boot at the base of a headstone and discretely bury them. If I am not sure if they are human or not I choose a headstone with 'Known Unto God' inscribed on it.

Edited by Hedley Malloch

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