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Fromelles16: July 19th events


velo350
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I have a lot of sympathy for Len's viewpoint and yes, the sheer numbers of those buried do pose a problem. However, it would seem invidious and disrespectful to me to dis-inter these remains for individual burial even if some of them could be positively identified with the deployment of all our modern forensic skills. That said, I am sure the Governments will breath a sigh of relief if the best solution proves to be a lower cost one.

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Which Government will picking up the Tab then....any guesses Ian ?... :lol:

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I suppose if everything is done through the CWGC, then the established proportions of contributions will be maintained which means the UK will pay the lion's share. I presume that the Aussie Govt will be paying for the most recent works at Fromelles - but will the discovery of British remains lead the MOD to make a contribution.

I don't think it unreasonable that the British & Aussie Governments share whatever costs result from the Fromelles discoveries - I don't think that the large majority of their respective electorates would resent the costs at all. Cost shouldn't come into the considerations at all. of course - but it will!

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http://blogs.abc.net.au/dispatches/2008/06...ggers-gift.html

I think de Maissiet sounds a nice name for a new cemetery in France.

Bright Blessings

Sandra

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Lets wait and see what the recommendations from the dig are shall we!!!! As a previous poster put "We do seem to be getting ahead of ourselves here", good post Chris.

Unless we were there personally, we do not know what the status is with regard to the bodies, land etc. Exhuming the bodies is certainly a course to be looked at, but, if this results in invasive procedures I do not think this very dignified or respectful in anyway whatsoever.

Lets wait for the report and recommendations, after all they have lain for for many years now.

Andy

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Ian

You are correct in that there is a set percentage paid by each CWGC member - calculated basically in accordance with the number of graves/memorial inscriptions from each country's forces (there are some other adjustments).

However, the graves of Unknowns are also allocated according to known or likely nationality and, therefore, add to each nation's tally. Whether these men are eventually left in situ or reburied individually (the former by far being the most likely), they will alter the percentages. A decision will be taken as to an approximate number of Australian and British and that number will amend each nation's total - in this case undoubtedly increasing the Australian share by a greater amount.

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Terry - quite agree with your opinion on the likely outcome at Fromelles - although I am always prepared to be surprised if politicians have any influence on the decision!

Let the calculations be done as long as something is done at the site in Fromelles to commemorate their sacrifice adequately. This is a great opportunity for our generation to renew the concept of remembrance.

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Sandra,

Thank you for posting the link to the ABC. I have emailed them on several occasions asking for a more complete coverage of the events unfolding at Fromelle, at least we have not been totally forgotten by our National broadcaster after all!

I must say that the photo of the ceremony, with all those flags, the flowers (including a wreath of flanders poppies) and the sombre faces of all ages in attendance is very moving. The severed links of the last 90 years now seem somehow to have been put back together.

Should it not matter what percentage of British to Australian soldiers are lying there? Why cant the costs be shared equally among all the allies?They fell for the same cause and now are brothers in arms for all eternity.

Perhaps the memorial could be partly funded by private donations ? This would lessen the cost for penny pinching government departments and allow those of us who wish they could help in some way, to do so.

In regard to the treatment of the dead after the battle, I may be able to help a little. For those not familiar with the recently published book "Fromelles" by Patrick Lindsay, they should endeavour to obtain a copy. There are records from the German regiments involved in the burial of the dead giving strict and precise instructions as to how the bodies were to be separated by Nationality and rank. Only the one medical NCO and a small group of men were responsible for the removal of ID tags from the dead, from both sides. They were to be interred without removing even their most "insignificant" property as theft from corpses would be severely punished. It was also stated that the Germans were to forbid the civilian population from loitering or gaping at the bodies awaiting burial. From reading the documents reprinted in the book it certainly seems the fallen men were not merely gathered and thrown into a pit indiscriminately.

Kind regards to all,

K.

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Hello again,

I think that there is great evidence that the Germans followed protocol in burying the dead. However soldiers being soldiers often took shortcuts particularly doing un-fun jobs like burying dead. The attached photo is possibly from the Fromelles battle that I trawled from the internet several years ago. It is not Pheasant Wood as there were no revetments and the trees are too close to the trench.

Several Aussies who were allowed behind the hessian screens at the recent dig remarked "these men are not resting in peace". These words were spoken by the Major General in charge and the great nephew of one of the diggers. This to me indicates that some of the pits the men were thrown in much like in this photo.

As regards to cost the CWGC should pick up the tab and I don't know who funds that. Certainly Australia and the UK should have no bones (excuse the pun) about contributing.

My major point is that the numbers are inconveniently large which may push the powers that be into a cheaper solution then what is deserved ...and it boils my blood that dead soldiers and ex-soldiers are treated like that.

Len

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Len, I’m very surprised to read your words regarding the comments made by your fellow Aussies. Strangely enough, this was not the opinion which Major General O’Brien offered up when I spoke to him last week, nor was it an opinion shared by any of the other senior Australians who were there at the time. I have been to Pheasant Wood and I have seen inside the pits and how the men were laid there by the Germans and I saw nothing which would indicate that the men had been placed in there either haphazardly or irreverently. With regard to the photo which you attached to your post, can you tell us what it is entitled, just to shed a little extra light? I can only tell you that it bears absolutely no comparison with Pheasant Wood, so I’m a little unsure of the point which you are trying to make.

Any haste on the part of the Germans would be perfectly understandable, bearing in mind that these men had been dead and lying out in the sun for several days. Apparently, the stench of putrefaction was quite awful and I, for one, would not have dallied over the handling of many hundreds of bodies which were in the first stages of decomposition.

As to them “not resting in peace”, peace would have come to these men the moment that their hearts stopped beating, putting an end to their agony. I’ve seen their wounds, so please take it from one who knows - “peace” reigns at Pheasant Wood.

V.

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Hi Victoria,

You are very fortunate to be able to have visited Fromelles during the dig, it must have been a fantastic but humbling experience. This is an article written in the Sydney Morning Herald last week.

"Mr Whitford, a former Australian tank commander, threatened to return his RSL membership if the call for a reburial on site was not heeded.

In Pits 1, 2 and 3 the bodies seemed to have been buried with a degree of care and in some semblance of order. But "in Pits 4 and 5 it is a scene of abject horror. Men have been thrown in on top of each other without care or reverence … these men are not at rest," he said. "If we leave them like that, it is a travesty. If anyone says anything different, they should get off their chesterfields and come here and have a look."

Mr Englezos said the soldiers, forgotten for 92 years, should be given the dignity of individual reburial.

"Hopefully, this would happen at a properly created cemetery where they lie at Pheasant Wood. They have been together for 92 years and should stay that way, but reburied individually." he said.

Patrick Lindsay, the author of Fromelles, the book that documented Mr Englezos's lonely, six-year battle to acknowledge the possibility that the mass grave had been overlooked for more than 90 years, said that if one set of remains had been found, there would be no question about reburial.

This week alone, the site has been quietly visited by the Trade Minister, Simon Crean, and the former prime minister, John Howard, who was visibly moved by what he saw."

In regards to the photo I do re-iterate that it may be Fromelles - it was to illustrate the short cuts soldiers make when under duress and desensitised by war. I did not record where I found them but here are two other I found on the same day back in 2006 on the one website relating to Fromelles.

I think what is certain about this that military enthusiasts, the public and even relatives may all have differing views on what to do next. Yes the GUARD report is very anticipated.

Cheers,

Len

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Dear All,

There are obviously discrepancies in reports as to how the men appear to have been buried. If it is true that some have not been buried with the same care as others, perhaps those remains could be layed out in a more christian manner and re-interred? Some would probably say that doing this is more about satisfying the requirements of the living, than the dead? Mates, it is only because some of our fellow forum members care so deeply about those who died here, that we get so emotional about touchy topics such as this one. We all want to do our best for the men found here, so maybe we will all have to wait to see what the official line is at the end of the day.

In the mean time, we may all be better informed as more first hand information may come to light over the next few days. I also am very grateful to the fortunate few who have been on site and then given up their time to keep all the rest of us informed so much as they possibly can. Thank you.

K.

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K - yes we will have to wait and see.

Personally, I just can't see how we can possibly select some sets of remains for "tidying up" in an effort to make up for German soldiers worikng under pressure all those years ago. It's all individual graves or none as far as I can see. I still think that the indignity of disinterring them for a massive bone sorting exercise would outweigh the eventual dignity of a cemetery of mostly unknown graves.

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The trouble for us living so far away (Australia) is that it is near impossible to visit the site except for specially planned major trips. I am very envious that the Brits can just duck over for a week-end to visit the old western front. Albeit to get to the Fromelles dig site seemd to be reserved to a select few. One day I when I retire I will house swap with a French couple and spend months over there at my leisure!!

We have to rely on the reports of government and army officials - and we all know how recalcitrant they have been "helping" Lambis over the last 6 years.

The last photo of interest appears on a Dutch forum but I can't understand the article ... its all double Dutch. It possibly shows the burial taking place at Pheasant Wood, but it does mention the word Fromelles in the caption to the photo.

http://www.forumeerstewereldoorlog.nl/view...8ab57900517b84a

Len

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The last photo of interest appears on a Dutch forum but I can't understand the article ... its all double Dutch. It possibly shows the burial taking place at Pheasant Wood, but it does mention the word Fromelles in the caption to the photo. http://www.forumeerstewereldoorlog.nl/view...8ab57900517b84a

Len

It’s in German, actually

“Mass grave : this picture, a postcard, came from the inheritance of my granddad.

On the back is written : memory of an English attack at Fromelles”

The same picture can be found at :

http://www.stahlgewitter.net/westfont/westfront_20.htm

But there it reads : German mass grave at Vimy...

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The war debris of shattered bodies, "bits and bobs", once were living soldiers.

But it is true, that bombs bursts left only fragments of humanity, shrapnel tore humans to shreds, bullets lay men down to sleep.

That was the horror of the new technology of WW1. No musket ball to be simply dug out, no flapping arm from a cannon ball.

No, it was oblivion in a flash. Or a lingering death from gas. Or multiple wounds from the new bombs.

Let us give some credence to the German's collecting information, for the records, about the soldiers they buried. And to the conditions of burial under war conditions.

Let us take into consideration, the ninety years gap, - the, then and now, and the wars, in between, that shape our emotions of now.

Vietnam, they are still bringing bodies home.

WW1, they did not bring bodies home.

They lay in Flanders's Fields, and in the awesome terrain of Gallipoli; they lay amongst their comrades, known and unknown.

The crux, to disinter, try and identify, and re-inter? Or leave them as they were buried then. Or not buried, but sunk in the mud, lost beneath the earth, till many years later a chance find, a new road, a new housing development, - chance that brings them them to the fore.

I may be be at odds with the majority, but I would like to see those that have laid together, stay together. It is only for the living that separate burial is a soothing glove to the loss that is felt ninety odd years on, and to the emotion of those of us who appreciate the hell these men suffered.

They have moved on. They are in Valhalla,... Heaven,.. in a place we can only hope is a place of peace and rest.

As much as the Unknown gravestones overcame me, over there, the most peaceful graveyard, for me, was VC Corner.

But all the emotions expressed by individuals on both this and the LH forum is by the by.

The governments of the day will have the last say, and whether or not economics come into it, one can only hope that the true spirit of remembrance will be adhered to.

And that the remains will be treated with respect; respect of the circumstances in which they died, and with whom they died.

Those that lay there, march to their own cadence, not ours.

Kim

(Also posted on LH Forum)

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I am very pleased that John Howard and a current Australian government minister have visited the site. I hope decisions are eventually informed by such visits - it can only help.

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Hello again,

The attached photo is possibly from the Fromelles battle that I trawled from the internet several years ago. It is not Pheasant Wood as there were no revetments and the trees are too close to the trench.

Len

The Attached Photo is of British Dead at Fromelles from the July Attack,and i have already posted it on this Thread previously. :rolleyes: ..Posting 95.I would like to add that possibly the job of Burying the Dead after the Battle would have been given to some German Soldiery who would not be best disposed to burying their Enemies with much aftercare ..I.E. Defaulters,Men undergoing Field Punishment,and unwilling"Volunteers" simply detailed in to do the Dirty Work...it was all well and good for the German Brass to Issue out Orders detailing set ways of carrying out said Burials,but another thing for the Brass to actually motivate and supervise Fed up,worn out,Indifferent,and unwilling Troops,to bury men who only a few days ago had been attempting to Kill them.

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That is the same men who would have buried their own dead and with about the same attitude. On both sides. 1st AIF, you are very free with other people's taxes, are you not?

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Andrew's brother Owen who was in the same battle wrote in reply (abv) " my brother among others of my company © reached the German front line ... I was told by a stretcher bearer W.Crisp that he saw my brother dead a few yards the other side of the German front line, he had crossed the first line of trenches ... our battalion was obliged to fall back ... all killed and wounded were left in enemy lines ... I am convinced that he was buried by the enemy as lots of my unfortunate mates were"

Julie,

Thank you for sharing this information. How lucky you are to have such wonderful eyewitness accounts. It would seem that perhaps you do have a claim to Pheasant Wood. Have you been in contact yet with Tim, Andrew or Sandra? They may be able to help you in your quest.

V.

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That is the same men who would have buried their own dead and with about the same attitude. On both sides. 1st AIF, you are very free with other people's taxes, are you not?

Good God, we are talking about laying to rest BRAVE MEN, not some form of tax return here, i cannot believe that 'some' on here seem more worried about which country pays taxes or pays to lay these men at rest.

These men, answered the call, paid the ultimate price for Great Britain, i tell you what i'll chip in some of my own money towards their Burials or whatever, then maybe some can claim a rebate, sorry im annoyed, why is who is going to pay an issue, it doesnt matter, what matters is they and all the rest are laid with Honour.

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In regards to the photo I do re-iterate that it may be Fromelles - it was to illustrate the short cuts soldiers make when under duress and desensitised by war.

Whilst these photographs are of great interest to the Forum as a whole, I’m not sure that this thread is the right place for them. The whole subject of Pheasant Wood is a sensitive one and images without proven provenance could cloud the issue, but they are very moving images just the same, so thank you Len for sharing them with us.

As to whether or not we should be thinking along the lines of exhumation, well, that is another tricky question. Exhuming the remains of at least two hundred men, and possibly as many as four hundred men, for the sake of a handful who may or may not have been interred in a way which we would consider dignified, would be a mammoth task. We are not talking of lifting out bodies as a whole. I seem to remember reading somewhere that the human body contains 206 bones. I can’t imagine that anyone taking on the task of exhuming two hundred plus remains would be happy to think that they may have left something behind!

Still on the subject of practicalities, these men currently lie together within six pits, in some places in two tiers. Madame Demassiet, the owner of the land on which the site stands, has offered to donate this piece of land for the men. Something between two hundred and four hundred graves would, I would imagine, take up considerably more space than that currently taken up by the pits. Should we politely refuse her offer or ask her to donate more land?

With regard to Tim Whitford, my heart goes out to this man. I hope for his sake that things go as he would wish, but I feel he should prepare himself for the worst. The only consolation I can offer is that, if he knows that his relative is buried at Pheasant Wood, he already has 100% more than my family has or the families of the other 11,359 men on the Ploegsteert Memorial, the families of the 54,321 men on the Menen Gate or the families of the 72,085 men on the Thiepval Memorial, to mention but a few. Does it really matter if his relative is buried in this corner here or that corner there?

If the remains of these men had been discovered during the battlefield clearances and cemetery concentrations of the post war years, they would have been either interred in VC Corner or in one of the other lovely cemeteries which surround the battlefield and this discussion would never even have taken place. As it was, a clerical error on behalf of the Germans rendered the site lost until Lambis took his courage in his hands and staked his reputation on locating the exact spot where they lay. Now they are found and we can ensure that they are commemorated as they deserve to be. I’m sure that they would ask for nothing more than that.

Here endeth this evening’s lesson.

V.

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Good God, we are talking about laying to rest BRAVE MEN, not some form of tax return here, i cannot believe that 'some' on here seem more worried about which country pays taxes or pays to lay these men at rest.

These men, answered the call, paid the ultimate price for Great Britain, i tell you what i'll chip in some of my own money towards their Burials or whatever, then maybe some can claim a rebate, sorry im annoyed, why is who is going to pay an issue, it doesnt matter, what matters is they and all the rest are laid with Honour.

I took issue with someone unilaterally deciding what should be done by an international body. I have no problem with suggestions as to what might be done. I do with being told what ought to be. There are many different countries involved in this. There are many competing ideas. No one person should arrogate to themselves the right to declare wahat " should " be done. Tell me, if this had been several hundred French and Portuguese troops, would there have been the slightest interest from the Antipodes? Many of the people making their opinions known so emphatically had never heard of Fromelles or VC corner. That was reflected in the notion that there had been a ' cover up'. There are people in Europe and on the Forum who have walked these battlefields for years and spared a thought for every soldier brought in from the cold. Regardless of nationality. There are people who took interest in the battles fought and refought over this ground throughout the war. This ground still holds the mortal remains of Indian, British and Anzacs who died here from 1915 until 1918. When found, they have been carefully recovered and laid to rest for 90 years.

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This ground still holds the mortal remains of Indian, British and Anzacs who died here from 1915 until 1918. When found, they have been carefully recovered and laid to rest for 90 years.

Well said Tom.

V.

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It's in German, actually

"Mass grave : this picture, a postcard, came from the inheritance of my granddad.

On the back is written : memory of an English attack at Fromelles"

The same picture can be found at :

http://www.stahlgewitter.net/westfont/westfront_20.htm

But there it reads : German mass grave at Vimy...

Koen,

Thanks for the interpretation. The first casualty of war is the truth. The first one seems somewhat more believable, as the second one the German officers have been removed - perhaps by allied propagandists? Thanks again.

Len

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