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Fromelles16: July 19th events


velo350
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An extract from an article published in the Guardian yesterday which is about the only detailed information that I have read concerning the nature of the finds:

Pollard has uncovered the remains of six bodies crumpled into a space barely a metre square, and believes that the five pits the team has uncovered are equally full, probably holding more than 300 bodies, 173 of them Australian. "They had to work very fast - this was the height of summer, and the bodies were scattered in the open air all across their lines, decomposing very rapidly."

They have found skeletal remains and webbing from uniforms, and believe that lower in the pits, protected from air in the sodden mud, complete uniforms and human tissue may be preserved.

So far, they have found nothing to identify individuals or allow them to distinguish Australian from British. They know from the records that the Germans removed identifying material from the bodies before burial, but hope they may find cap and shoulder badges.

Whitford's great-uncle Harry, one of 14 children, who joined up aged 19 and died aged just 21, has a distinction now which he certainly did not have before. He is the first named individual known to be buried there: his body has not yet been found, but by bitter irony his lucky medal, presented to him by his Australian town, has turned up in the mud.

"There was huge relief first that after 30 years looking we had finally discovered where he lies," Whitford, who brought his eight-year-old daughter Alexandra with him, said yesterday. "But then immediately afterwards there was a great wave of sadness at the thought of these poor ******* lying in this paddock for 90 years, in an unmarked grave." He is now a security manager in Melbourne, but served as a soldier for nine years. "This battle should never have happened, this was unassailable ground, what happened to these men was criminal."

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hello all,

i attach a link to a video on YouTube originally shown on Australian TV. Ray Martin is the reporter.

In it, an Australian historian states that in his view the British "covered up" the this incident..

controversial?

Robbie

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It'd be extremely helpful if someone in authority from this site could update this thread with a kind of running commentary of where the dig is up to? You know - "Day 12 - further finds today include etc" or Day 7 - second area now being excavated".

I can almost guarantee a major find by professing my skepticism over this project to date! Nevertheless, other than a lot of use of words like "possibly", "may" and "could" I can't see anything concrete. Some body fragments and now six bodies in a small area. That's my reckoning to date. Again - one could find that in numerous currently undiscovered and uninterred shell holes from 1914-1918.

Surely the key find - large burial pits with multiple bodies - remains unfound and thus the theories of its existance remain unproven.

As I said - my skepticism almost guarantees a major find as we speak and to be fair I couldn't be happier if it were but there seem to be a lot of folks rushing off to conclusions that appear to me pretty theoretical still.

I lack some of the knowledge of a lot on here though so again, any useful briefing would be great.

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Is there perhaps to be a TV programme about this investigation? That would explain the paranoid secrecy. The Glasgow Uni guy has already featured on TV archaeology programmes.

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Sarge2871,

VC corner is not the only cemetery on the Western Front to have no headstones. RE Grave, on the Bellewaerde Ridge contains a single cross of sacrifice with the names of those believed to be buried in the near vicinity engraved on the base of the cross. (1 Officer, 3 NCO's and 8 men).

Regards

Iain

Also not forgetting Zivy Crater.

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An Australian historian states that in his view the British "covered up" the this incident..

controversial ?

Robbie

I wondered when the Brit Bashing & and Blame everything on the Brits Schools of thought were going to put in their appearances...D,Oh. :( ...If John Laffin were still around He would be having a Field Day with the "Cover Up Theory".

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An Australian historian states that in his view the British "covered up" the this incident..

controversial ?

Robbie

I wondered when the Brit Bashing & and Blame everything on the Brits Schools of thought were going to put in their appearances...D,Oh. :( ...If John Laffin were still around He would be having a Field Day with the "Cover Up Theory".

yes indeed he would :rolleyes:

The historian did say that the Aussies were quite happy to go along with the "cover-up"...media hype or some truth in it? what does Bean say?

R

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Sounds like Media Hype Robbie,plus some "Historian" stirring things up and maybe trying to make a Name for Himself....Double D,Oh !!!!..i would like to know how this Historian Chappie came across this Info and can he produce it to back up His Claims ???..i wont hold my Breath... :lol:http://www.militaryhistorytours.com.au/sit...stern_Front.asp

According to the Content of the Totally Impartial and Unbiased Site above,Beans accounts may have been censored by the Evil Imperialist British.

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As part of the cover up, Peter Pederson wrote a book called, " Fromelles", in the Battleground Europe series. Nice book covers most of the essentials. It mentions the VC Corner Memorial to the Australians lost at Fromelles. Very cunning bit of camouflage that.

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Re: Cover up It is my understanding from what I have read over the years that it was more likely that the Australian hierarchy that orderd a cover up. Based on the fact that this was not only there first engagement on the Western Front but more importantantly the first since Gallipoli, so more bad news on top of bad news ? I have been told that a lot of memorials erected in Australia after the war did not have Fromelles included on them.

Appologies: VC Corner Cemetary - the only completely Australian Cemetary `with no headstones` - hope I am right this time ; )

sarge

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For what it is worth. Fromelles was a sideshow. It was planned to be that from the start. The attack would not have the artillery or reserves to enable it to achieve anything. Similar action took place north of the canal at Loos, in September 1915 when the Indian Corps put in diversionary attacks and suffered heavily. Fromelles takes its place beside all the other diversionary attacks and like them has high casualties for no gain. The battle was fought over the same ground as the one day battle of Aubers Ridge, the year before. One day because the casualties incurred caused Haig to call it off on the evening of the first day. This part of the Western Front was covered with bodies in 1915 and continued to be so throughout the war. There is a photograph of a priest kneeling in prayer in 1919 beside the remains of a British or Australian soldier in this area.

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The site was open yesterday to the local schoolchildren and will be open Friday and Saturday to the inhabitants of Fromelles. The Members of the Association Fromelles and Weppes - Terre de Mémoire 14-18 have also been invited to attend on Saturday morning. I shall be in Fromelles later in the weekend and will be visiting the site and meeting up with Martial and Lambis. If anyone has any requests for photographs or any questions which they would like me to ask, I’d be only too happy to oblige.

V.

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Wonderful ... thanks Victoria ... Give Lambis a warm hug from me and tell him WELL DONE ... and that we have had a lot of publicity at home and several more family contacts.

I would be grateful for any photographs that you take :)

Have a wonderful time :)

Bright Blessings

Sandra

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Sandra,

Consider it done - especially the hug!

V.

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I wondered when the Brit Bashing & and Blame everything on the Brits Schools of thought were going to put in their appearances...D,Oh. :( ...If John Laffin were still around He would be having a Field Day with the "Cover Up Theory".

I think everyone knows where I stand on the whole cover-up theory, but I just wanted to add that I think it's a bit rough to drag John Laffin's name through the mud just to illustrate the point. It's true that Laffin had some fairly entrenched anti-British beliefs, but the man did more to promote the remembrance of Australia's war dead than just about any other modern historian. It's ironic that his name should be brought up in a negative connotation regarding Fromelles - he played an important role in the establishment of the Australian Memorial Park there (in addition to the ones at Bullecourt and Hamel).

Additionally, I can't recall anything Laffin wrote about Fromelles that suggested a cover-up (he was scathing on the British commanders but it could be argued that, in this case, it was justified).

It seems that, since his death, Laffin has become the poster-boy for the "we don't write history like that anymore" brigade. I have to say that, given his contribution to our collective knowledge of Australia's involvement in the war, I find it really disappointing.

Mat

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Hi Matt,I will agree that Laffin has probably done a lot to raise awareness of the AIF in WW1,but where i disagree is his arguments,Inaccuracies,and questionable use of sources.which he uses to further serve his own anti British agenda.Re Laffin and Fromelles He mentions Fromelles in His Book "British Butchers and Bunglers of World War 1"...I think the Title itself speaks Volumes.As for Him being the"Poster Boy" laffin has certainly created that Niche for Himself totally unaided and completely by His own efforts.....Check out the Classic Thread on Disliked/Boring WW1 Books.Now back to the Topic in Hand....Russ.

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Sounds like Media Hype Robbie,plus some "Historian" stirring things up and maybe trying to make a Name for Himself....Double D,Oh !!!!..i would like to know how this Historian Chappie came across this Info and can he produce it to back up His Claims ???..i wont hold my Breath... :lol:http://www.militaryhistorytours.com.au/sit...stern_Front.asp

According to the Content of the Totally Impartial and Unbiased Site above,Beans accounts may have been censored by the Evil Imperialist British.

thanks mate, most interesting. Robbie

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hi..this is my first reply on this forum.

I have been 'connected' to WW1 for around 10yrs and like most of you I have never really understood what drives me..but it does. My interest in Fromelles started right at the start when I began to speak to my father-in-law about his Uncle and his father in law (ie my wifes grandfather) and their involvement in WW1. They both fought for the first time at Fromelles one (Lt. Percy Ralph) was in the 53 Battalion and the second (Pvt. Walter Norman Haylor) was in the 55th Battalion, and they somehow both survived. Walter was to see out the entire war and return home to bring (eventually) my wonderful wife into the world while Percy was to die at Bellicourt just 2 days before the 53rd was withdrawn from the fighting and the war in Oct 1918.

Yves Fohlen wrote a short history on Percy if you wanted to read further.

I have been watching this dig closely thinking about one of Walter's mates who he held while he died at Fromelles..did he die behind the Huns lines and end up buried at Pheasant Wood ?

Anyway I have attached a copy of a report by Lieut. Col. D.M.McConaghy who was the CMG. Commanding the 55th B at that Battle. I found this on the Australian War Memorial Website. I tried to add this but it was 1124kb...you can view this file at http://www.awm.gov.au/cms_images/AWM4/23/AWM4-23-14-4.pdf

If this input is not in the right place please just let me know.

thx....

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Hi Matt,I will agree that Laffin has probably done a lot to raise awareness of the AIF in WW1,but where i disagree is his arguments,Inaccuracies,and questionable use of sources.which he uses to further serve his own anti British agenda.Re Laffin and Fromelles He mentions Fromelles in His Book "British Butchers and Bunglers of World War 1"...I think the Title itself speaks Volumes.As for Him being the"Poster Boy" laffin has certainly created that Niche for Himself totally unaided and completely by His own efforts.....Check out the Classic Thread on Disliked/Boring WW1 Books.Now back to the Topic in Hand....Russ.

Russ,

Fair enough. And having been dead for the best part of a decade, he doesn't really have an opportunity to defend his position.

Since you brought it up, my best guess if he was still alive is that he'd be one of the loudest voices calling for respectful and appropriate treatment for any soldiers who are uncovered.

Cheers,

Mat

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There were 2 of 4 sets of remains identified at Polygonne Wood last year, a 3rd was inconclusive but they still brought suspected relatives for the reinternment although there was no name added to the headstone.

Just for clarification on the whole DNA issue, I was pretty closely involved in the ID process of the above-mentioned soldiers (covering it for the ABC documentary, not the actual investigative work). I mention this because the issue of DNA testing is important, so we should be clear about what was, and was not done, with the Polygon Wood soldiers, the 'Westhoek Five'.

There were five sets of remains uncovered. Two were identified using DNA testing: Pvt Jack Hunter and Sgt George Calder. Of the other three soldiers, one is suspected by historical evidence to be Pvt G. Storey, and DNA testing is now being carried out to determine if this is the case. The families of Hunter and Calder attended the reburial service, as did relatives of 2nd Lt L. Corrigan, who did NOT get a positive DNA match to any of the remains. They were invited to attend to represent the three soldiers being buried as unknowns.

The important point is that the five bodies were uncovered beneath a road - they had been wrapped in blankets (or in Pvt Hunter's case, a groundsheet) and interred by thier comrades in individual graves. The soldiers buried squarely under the road (Hunter, Calder and body No. 3) had the best preserved DNA, because the road provided protection from water seepage and other environmental effects. The other two bodies were only partly covered by the road and had therefore deteriorated more than the others. So much so, that no usable DNA could be extracted from them. These two will never be formally identified (at least by DNA testing).

This is the important point about the Fromelles remains. After having been buried in mass graves, in an area with a high water table, with no protection from the elements and covered with quick lime, there may not be any usable DNA to be recovered. This early in the process this is all just speculation of course, but the experience with the Westhoek Five demonstrates that DNA IDs are not guaranteed.

Cheers,

Mat

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if he was still alive is that he'd be one of the loudest voices calling for respectful and appropriate treatment for any soldiers who are uncovered.

I may have missed something, but have any voices been calling for a disrespectful and inappropriate treatment for the soldiers?

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