Jump to content
The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Fromelles16: July 19th events


velo350
 Share

Recommended Posts

Tell me, if this had been several hundred French and Portuguese troops, would there have been the slightest interest

This very evening I'm trying to put together a schedule for a visit to the battlefields of the Lys 1918 fighting, and at the top of the agenda is a visit to the Portuguese cemetery at Neuve Chapelle. What were those poor fellows doing there? They were mostly illiterate, demoralised, bewildered as to their role in the war, led by officers who were remote and unsympathetic, and heartilly afflicted by the vile weather prevailing in NW Europe. They were the "weakest link" in that sector, and upon them fell an attack of terrific violence and intensity. They broke, they ran, and six thousand were captured - or surrendered - in the opening moments of the German offensive on April 9th, 1918. But in that cemetery are about two thousand Portuguese soldiers, most of them, surely, victims of that day. They deserve to be visited, acknowledged and remembered. Of all the poignant episodes of that war, this stands out as especially sad. Nearby is the Indian cemetery, another reminder of men from a different culture who suffered and died in an alien environment.

Phil.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

So the Germans deliberately removed all means of identification. If only they had copied the details and left the dog tags in situ - how much easier it would have been....

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Mel

The CWGC records 81 casualties for the 2/7th Warwicks on 19th July

I know I did a soldiers Died search and was going to do a look up on CWGC tomorrow. If there are any British lads in Pheasant Wood, then they will be 2/7th Warwicks lads, so

Perhaps there is a project here
, I think you could be right.

Annette

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This very evening I'm trying to put together a schedule.............. But in that cemetery are about two thousand Portuguese soldiers,................

Phil.

I believe that almost all were gathered in to the one cemetery. The Three Amigos were there April. Steve Broomfield and I were there last year and the photos are still to be seen on Flickr or from me by email.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

. If any of the service records still exist, there may be some interesting documents hidden in there.

A Large amount of British Servicemens Documents from WW1 were destroyed by Luftwaffe Air Raids in WW2.I hasten to add that i have never personally come across accounts of the Germans returning Dog Tags and Personal effects to the average Tommies Family,why should the Diggers be treated any different ?,i still think the return of the Personal effects scenario is stretching credulity somewhat.Prove me wrong and give me a concrete example of Personal effects of a Loved One being returned to a Family from the Battlefield of Fromelles BY the Enemy.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Annette

I did notice that some of the 2/7th missing casualties are recorded with their original four figure numbers and others with six figure TF renumberings.

The latter are not unusual because there was usually a long period before they were declared dead and in the meantime were renumbered along with the rest of the Battalion.

The former may indicate nothing more than that they had known graves that were subsequently lost or confirmation of death was from another source .......?

Regards

Mel

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My maternal grandmother received the effects of my GF who died in a German CCS at Phalempin. There was a letter explaining that he had had tobacco which had been shared out with patients as had been some chocolate. My Grandmother received his pipe, letters received by him and one for her but unsent, two embroidered cards, unsent unaddressed, some photographs, some French money, a few francs in coins and notes. Most of that from my mother's memory but I have read the letters and looked at the photographs. No dogtags that I saw but some of the stuff my mother remembered was no longer there. I saw it when my grandmother died and we were clearing the house. The stuff was returned through the Red Cross and contained a covering letter, in English from a German doctor who detailed the stuff returned, explained about the tobacco and chocolate and described the wound.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Do we now know exactly how many men are in the pits at Pheasant Wood or will that be found out when they (presumably) do the individual burials at a later date?

Len

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Victoria, in the case of K Bastiani, is the tombstone you have shown earlier a memorial marker only or actually a grave.....

Cheers,

Elle

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Don't look past the Red Cross records in Geneva.

Bright Blessings

Sandra

Link to comment
Share on other sites

A Large amount of British Servicemens Documents from WW1 were destroyed by Luftwaffe Air Raids in WW2.I hasten to add that i have never personally come across accounts of the Germans returning Dog Tags and Personal effects to the average Tommies Family,why should the Diggers be treated any different ?,i still think the return of the Personal effects scenario is stretching credulity somewhat.Prove me wrong and give me a concrete example of Personal effects of a Loved One being returned to a Family from the Battlefield of Fromelles BY the Enemy.

PBI,

You seem to be doubting what we are saying. I'll have to do some hunting for one of the files recording personal possessions being returned but in the meantime to show you that we aren't making it up, here's a couple of documents from one of the Australian service files:

post-2918-1213927282.jpg

post-2918-1213927617.jpg

And if anyone wants to check to see if there are any records of the British buried by the Germans, I know that many of the British service records were destroyed but a check of the Red Cross records in Geneva might locate copies of the lists etc forwarded by the Germans.

Cheers,

Tim L.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

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

post-35120-1213688788.jpg

Len

Hello,

I own the same photo but the back is written : "Massengrabe.....engl.....Angriff bei Armentieres um 21 Feb 1917" and it was sent 3 Marz 1917

Regards

David

Link to comment
Share on other sites

PBI,

Here you go......just to prove you wrong :P (Did we have any money on that??)

This is from the service file of one of the missing Australians, 1235 Private Thomas CARTWRIGHT, 32nd Bn. I think it proves that the Germans 'did' in fact return personal possessions. There are other documents in his service file that show these personal possessions were forwarded and eventually returned to his family in Australia.

post-2918-1213941455.jpg

Cheers,

Tim L.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I would imagine that some of the Australian next of kin addresses would have been in the UK. I am sure that the Germans would not have distinguished between the various nationalities. It certainly would not surprise me if attempts were made to suppress knowledge of this humanitarian German behaviour as it ran counter to the image of German frightfulness that was the order of the day.

However, it would seem a reasonable bet that there may be further information about the British dead at Fromelles languishing in the files somewhere.

I may be passing Kew soon with a few hours to kill and will try to drop in to look at a few files - if anyone has any hot suggestions of where I might look, I would be happy to follow them up.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ian,

It would seem that at least one German death list was dated 4/11/1916, so I'd be making the reasonable assumption that the lists were compiled together and possibly all forwarded at the same time. The Australian service document gives the date received as later in November 1916. Perhaps a search for a similar list at Kew might be worthwhile.

Alternatively, someone could try to identify (if possible) the names of all the missing British soldiers at Fromelles and then trawl through the service files that weren't affected by the blitz to see if similar German documents were attached.

But beyond that, I can only suggest the records of the Red Cross in Geneva where copies of the lists appear to be stored.

Cheers,

Tim L.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Victoria, in the case of K Bastiani, is the tombstone you have shown earlier a memorial marker only or actually a grave.....

Elle, it is an actual grave, not a grave marker, but who is actually in the grave we will never know. The bodies of all twenty-two men were reinterred at Cabaret Rouge, each man being given a headstone. The names of all the men in the grave were known, but, with the exception of a few, it was simply not possible to say which man was which. Where identification was possible, a headstone was placed giving the man’s details in the usual way. Where identification was not possible, the headstones were “shared out”, each man being allocated a stone bearing the details of one of the unidentified men and the script “Buried near this spot. I suppose this seemed the fairest way of doing it.

When he was killed, Kenneth Bastiani was allegedly wearing a family ring. I know this because his father wrote to the Records Office at Winchester asking if it had been found. Apparently it was never returned to the family, so it would appear that the families of the Pheasant Wood men fared better than some.

V.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

,why should the Diggers be treated any different ?,

Notwithstanding the same treatment probably being accorded to the British dead found in the German lines, I think that the answer to that may lie in the awareness of German intelligence about developments in internal Australian politics. The number of volunteers had declined significantly by 1916 and the government of Billy Hughes had encountered great difficulty in securing a majority in the Senate to impose conscription - hence the first referendum on the issue in October 1916.

Fromelles was the first occasion that the Australian forces were involved in a major battle on the Western front. What better way of influencing Australian public opinion than to provide verification of the casualties and counter the propaganda depictions of Germany by behaving in exactly the way the German military authorities did?

regards

Mel

Link to comment
Share on other sites

People seem to be overlooking the fact that a figure of around 400 other bodies were buried in these pits.

I would say that it is highly likely that the same treatment was afforded all nationalities. Australia is just fortunate enough to have records available to search. No doubt if the PRO wasn't so badly damaged during the war it would be an easy task.

If there is one burial list handed in by the German authorities to the Red Cross then it would be highly likely that there would be more. It is a matter of checking the Red Cross records in Geneva.

I seriously doubt that the Germans would just have singled out 173 Australians who fell at Fromelles as a exercise in propaganda.

Bright Blessings

Sandra

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sandra,the 400 other Bodies are most probably those of the Tommies killed at Fromelles in the 1916 attack.I shall be visiting Fromelles this Weekend to pay my Respects to the Men buried in Cemeteries in and around the Fromelles Area. Regards Russ.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hey, Russ! Are you going to the museum in Fromelles?

V.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Victoria.My long Term on/off Squeeze has suddenly appeared on the Horizon and has invited herself on the Visit,so this will severly curtail my ability to get to as many areas as i would have liked to,so the Museum / Fromelles visit is in severe doubt,as She is not a blind bit interested in anything remotely connected with the Great War...but does try to Humour me :( ...Miss PBI is finking of applying for a War Widders Pension.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Oh, bad luck! I can remember refusing to go out one Saturday with the man who was later to become my husband. He asked if I was washing my hair and I replied "Of course not! I'm polishing my artillery shells!". He has no excuse. He knew what to expect right from the beginning.

V.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well Well V,

I bet poor old Tim was totally bewildered by that excuse :lol::lol:

Andy

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Bewildered? We've been married for twelve years now and he's still recovering - from the artillery shell conversation, not the marriage! ;)

V.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I believe that almost all were gathered in to the one cemetery. The Three Amigos were there April. Steve Broomfield and I were there last year and the photos are still to be seen on Flickr or from me by email.

Please send me the email, Tom !

Phil.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...