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Fromelles16: July 19th events


velo350
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The owner of the field where the bodies lie told Agence France-Presse today she is willing to donate the land to be turned into a cemetery.

Her only conditions: that the site be accessible to the handicapped, the elderly and families with children.

cheers Martin B

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I am sure that this information was given in another topic but I am unable to find it so, please forgive me.

Of the 5500 Australian and 1600 British losses what was the number of Prisoners taken, KiA, DoW and Missing in the final analysis?

Kind Regards,

SMJ

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The owner of the field where the bodies lie told Agence France-Presse today she is willing to donate the land to be turned into a cemetery.

Her only conditions: that the site be accessible to the handicapped, the elderly and families with children.

cheers Martin B

Bonjour Martin

Madame Marie-Paule Demassiet took this decision during the ceremony held at the end of excavations at Fromelles.

I met her daughter Annie with a friend in Fleurbaix a few weeks ago, she told me that before to get to the ceremony Ms. Demassiet was not at all considered this decision and that it was with surprise that his children had heard the news. She had never mentioned anything about this before.

très amicalement

Michel

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I e-mailed the BBC first thing this morning, but be prepared for some inaccuracies within the article (not my doing, I hasten to add). The media often seem to struggle to differentiate between the word “casualties” and those actually “killed”.

V.

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Madame Marie-Paule Demassiet took this decision during the ceremony held at the end of excavations at Fromelles. I met her daughter Annie with a friend in Fleurbaix a few weeks ago, she told me that before to get to the ceremony Ms. Demassiet was not at all considered this decision and that it was with surprise that his children had heard the news. She had never mentioned anything about this before.

Well, she may not have mentioned it to her family, but she certainly seems to have mentioned it to other "interested parties" as I knew of it months ago.

Whichever way, it's a wonderfully generous gift.

V.

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Well, she may not have mentioned it to her family, but she certainly seems to have mentioned it to other "interested parties" as I knew of it months ago.

Whichever way, it's a wonderfully generous gift.

V.

Ah yes Victoria !

I had forgotten that you were in "the secrets of the Gods" :)

M.

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Mrs Demassiet-Beaussart also told AFP she said she would like it to be a "fine park with beautiful roses."

"It breaks our heart to know we were working over bodies," she said. "We always said there was something special about that spot.

"We used to grow turnips -- the leaves were like rainbows, with roots up to a metre long. Some turnips were heart-shaped. We never treated them, there were no worms and they were a brilliant white."

cheers Martin B

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Simon,

Unfortunately it's a bit difficult to calculate the casualties 'exactly' but I can offer you some pretty accurate Australian figures.

Total official casualties were 5533

There were 496 Australian prisoners taken by the Germans.

Officially there were 1917 Australians killed in action (although there's at least another eleven who belong in this category including one we've only just identified today)

Officially there are 618 in known graves and 1131 in graves marked as unknown in the surrounding cemeteries.

If you do the math,

KIA - 1928

Buried (known and unknown) - 1749

Still missing - 179

Of the 179 missing, we have identified the names of 176 buried by the Germans.

DOW figures are a little difficult to calculate because they could have occured anytime in the following years.

I hope that has been of assistance.

Cheers,

Tim L.

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Tim,

Thanks very much for that. Would this be a summary as best we can calculate it from the sum knowledge now available?

Fromelles 19/20 July 1916

Australian Losses

Killed 1925 (35%)

Wounded 3106 (56%)

POW 496 (9%)

Missing 3

Total 5533

Kind Regards,

SMJ

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Victoria,

Yes, I believe that to find the records in Geneva requires physically examining all the documents that were bundled up together sometime in the 1920's.

I suppose it's possible to examine the CWGC records to determine all the names of soldiers from the British units engaged at Fromelles that were killed on or around the 19-20 July. Then subtract those with 'known' graves. This gives you a rough list of names belonging to the 'unknowns'. If the British service records still exist for any of these you might be able to determine if they were or weren't buried by the Germans and reduce the list a little bit but by and large it will basically rely on documents in Geneva being located. Nevertheless, it's a start and at least gives a reasonably definitive list of men 'potentially' buried at Pheasant Wood.

Before the dig commenced, I believe Peter Barton did some preliminary work regarding the Red Cross archives in Geneva and the Bavarian records. I was told today that they plan to engage him again to hunt through the these records and see what he can turn up......fingers crossed.

Cheers,

Tim L.

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Simon,

That's probably pretty close to the figures (at least the way I add them it is :) )

If anything, it might be a little heavier on the killed and lighter on the wounded but you'd have to be pretty close based on what we know at the moment.

Cheers,

Tim L.

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Norman.

Wouldn't the headstones be marked "known to be buried in this cemetary"or "beleived to be buried in this cemetsry"?

Paul.

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I still believe these men should be left together 92 years together fought and died together let them rest in peace together

tafski

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Tim,

Thanks very much for that. Would this be a summary as best we can calculate it from the sum knowledge now available?

Fromelles 19/20 July 1916

Australian Losses

Killed 1925 (35%)

Wounded 3106 (56%)

POW 496 (9%)

Missing 3

Total 5533

Kind Regards,

SMJ

From what I can remember of my study of the Australian Medical History, the conditions at Fromelles prevented the recovery of many wounded. This resulted in relatively few being counted as died from wounds, for the lamentable fact was that the most seriously wounded were left to die on the field. This explains the high proportion of killed to wounded in the figures that SMJ posts.

The same high incidence of fatalities among the British casualties on July 1st 1916 were attributable to the same reason.

In a "normal" major action on the Western Front the wounded outnumbered the killed by a factor of three or four to one; from the wounded who were evacuated from the field, about one in ten or one in twelve would die. Fromelles, like the British debacle on the opening day of the Somme, eschewed that ratio, for the grim reason that the seriously wounded could not be recovered, and were left to die.

Phil.

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My imnitial thought would be to agree with Tafski, and to turn the site itself into a proper cemetary without further disturbance of the graves.

However, with the strength of feeling, especially from Australia I suppose that recovering the remains respectfully, and burying them individually at or close to their present location, is a good compromise.

If the bodies are recovered there can be no deep objection to seeking to take dna samples from those remains where that is possible, and if that leads to some identifications then that cannot be bad, and those men at least would then have a known grave.

If the research in Geneva is followed through then it might well be possible to list the "unknown" in that new cemetery on a new memorial as well as naming at least a few.

I think that the governments have arrived at a reasonable and positive outcome.

Keith

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All I know is this. These men have been laying with each for 90 years. Whatever happens, any future interference with their mortal remains, MUST be carried out with their interest alone and not for the political or higher ambitions of others! They have been at rest with each other for many years now, maybe it should stay that way! RIP. ;)

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While the pits were undisturbed, I would have definitely agreed with Bruce. Let them rest in peace. Now that there has been partial excavation I believe the situation has changed. They are now in the same situation as a body or bodies uncovered by the plough or disturbance like a building site. They should be brought in from the cold. If they can be identified, great. We would welcome this in any other soldier brought in so why not here. I think the whole affair could have been handled a lot better with dark hints of cover ups that never were but we should put that behind us and lay the men to rest as soon as we can with the dignity we owe them.

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agree Tom if thy had been ploughed up,buy as they have not i still believe that they should remain as commrades as they were when they were alive ,if i had relation believed to be there i would prefer for him to stay with his pals ,rather than have him seperated after all these years ,they have been disturbed enough let them rest in peace amongst pals

Tafski

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It would appear, from scanning the news reports today, that this issue has caused fierce debate and disagreement in Australia with the RSL (Australian veterans association) saying leave them undisturbed. These men are all commemorated and now that the location of the pits are known the families have a place for rememberance, which is more than can be said for the hundreds of thousands other families with members that have no known grave.

I see no mention at all of any testing being done in the news reports, which if this is the case, will mean another cemetery with numerous nameless headstones. If testing is to be done then ALL have to be tested, or are one group to be treated differently.

Judging by the fierce debate in Australia it would lead some credence to a lobbying group to get these men exhumed and tested. Personally (and its only my view) they have lain with their comrades for 92 years who they died with, leave them with their pals, and commemorate them properly on the site.

Andy

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Ah yes Victoria ! I had forgotten that you were in "the secrets of the Gods" :)

No Michel. Just an active member of the Association. :D

V.

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Before the dig commenced, I believe Peter Barton did some preliminary work regarding the Red Cross archives in Geneva and the Bavarian records. I was told today that they plan to engage him again to hunt through the these records and see what he can turn up......fingers crossed.

I remember Martial telling me that Peter would be travelling out to Geneva again, but I hadn't connected it with this particular area of research. This morning's release from the Australian Government stated that "the Australian and British Governments have agreed to equally share the costs of research." I'm going to see if I can discover exactly who and what this might involve.

V.

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I have just been speaking with a colleague and he mention works by Caulfield and that informative details were listed there. Silly me forgot to get the title.

Bright Blessings

Sandra

The book 'Don't Forget Me Cobber' by Robin Corfield lists the Australian, British & German casaulties of the battle by name.

Cheers

Andrew

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It would appear, from scanning the news reports today, that this issue has caused fierce debate and disagreement in Australia with the RSL (Australian veterans association) saying leave them undisturbed.

Andy,

Since this announcement, the National President of the RSL has changed his view somewhat. Here are some quotes of what he has stated:

"We certainly respect the decision in light of all the information that's now available,"

"We note it's a joint decision between the Australian and British governments, which it had to be because there are probably more British World War I soldiers buried there than Australians.

"They are not necessarily readily identifiable, so it was a necessary and responsible decision."

The RSL maintained a critical view of any exhumation of the soldiers' remains because it did not wish to raise unrealistic expectations of identification being established.

"The technology does exist to do a lot of that but it's not perfect and we didn't want those expectations being raised,"

And although the National Executive was a little hesitant about exhumation, there have been quite a number of state and local RSL's in full support of the process. I believe these groups may have made their opinions known to the National Executive and perhaps this has caused the swing in opinion.

I understand where everyone is coming from on this issue but ultimately my thoughts are along the following lines.

If they had been located by Graves Registration Units in the war's aftermath, they would have been honoured with individual graves marked as unknown. Why should the passage of 92 years alter this as it's obviously what people at the time thought the most fitting gesture. We must consider what these men would have wanted and as they made great efforts where possible to bury their mates in clearly named individual graves throughout the war, we must assume that is what each of them would have preferred should the worst occur to themselves - I still maintain that they are not all resting in peace.

Cheers,

Tim L.

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I think this is an excellent case for individual burial, with CWGC Special markers "Known to be buried in this cemetery".

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