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

Fromelles16: July 19th events


velo350
 Share

Recommended Posts

I had thought of that, Ian but I was envisaging the problem sorting out the remains.

Fair point, Tom. I would imagine that, with the current state of archaeological techniques, entire skeletons would be preserved but, as we all know, some bodies were blown apart by H.E. shell and there are bound to be 'bits'. We will all have to wait and see.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

From personal experience through the group NML it seems you are more likely to locate identity details on German remains with metal dog tags while so far little has been found on British remains as the tags were often decayed long before this time. This is of course only from the observations of a few remains.

In the case of Fromelles it is possible that other materials will be located to aid in an identity. The only photos I have from this area and time frame are of German dead awaiting burial in a mass grave as well.

Ralph

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Fair point, Tom. I would imagine that, with the current state of archaeological techniques, entire skeletons would be preserved but, as we all know, some bodies were blown apart by H.E. shell and there are bound to be 'bits'. We will all have to wait and see.

I reiterate again,"That some remains will be impossible to ID due to the concentration and mix of Bones".If there as many Bodies as we are led to believe in the Burial Pits,the Skeletal remains will have certainly become intermixed due to A) The manner in which the bodies were first placed in the pits and 2) The Action of Time and Weather which will also have played its part in the Shifting,mixing and movement of Skeletal remains.It will indeed prove difficult to seperate one Set of remains from another,let alone even try and ascertain as to wether the remains are British or Australian.Hopefully some traces of Uniforms will remain to Aid in some basic Identification of the remains.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Earlier today I was lucky enough to visit the Pheasant Wood site with my husband Tim. We decided that we would make the effort to get along there for the “open” morning for the inhabitants of Fromelles and members of the Association Fromelles-Weppes Terre de Memoire 14-18.

Roger Lee and Tony Pollard gave a short introduction to the excavation followed by a question and answer session through a French-speaking Australian interpreter. There were a lot of questions asked which showed how engaged the locals are with what is happening. Questions ranged from why it had taken so long to identify the location of the burial site, what will happen in the long term through to whether the men were interred with dignity.

I asked if it would be possible to establish the total number buried in the five pits and, if so, what that figure might be. Although it was too soon for them to give a number, by the time they have completed their work on Friday, they hope to have sufficient information from the pits to extrapolate a reasonably reliable figure.

As of this morning they had been unable to prove the nationality of any of the remains. One boot and some buttons have been found and it is hoped that further investigation will answer the question.

An extraordinary morning was capped by an extraordinary moment when Tony Pollard took the two of us to view one of the open pits in which some of his team were working.

As both Roger and Lambis both said, the work is in the best of hands. In Lambis’ own words, “All’s good!”

V.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Many Thanks for the most informative and welcome update Victoria..Many Thanks.R.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

V,

Thanks for the update, much appreciated.

Andy

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for that Victoria ... what an experience. I envy you!

Lambis likes to say regularly 'All's good'. I guess that must mean he is not unhappy with how things are going in the broader sense.

Bright Blessings

Sandra

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If there is no obvious identification evidence found with the individual remains which proves conclusively that the man is indeed soldier “X”, how then will DNA analysis help to determine the identity?. Given the possible numbers involved this procedure would surely be untenable. The remains of individuals and groups of soldiers are continually being found on the battlefields, mostly without any identification and the use of DNA is impossible in these cases as a complete DNA database of all of the relatives of the unknown fallen would be required.

It would seem to me that the authorities responsible for the excavations should, as a matter of urgency decide on and then notify the public of their intentions regarding the final treatment of the sites after this initial dig is completed. In my view to allow speculation to continue will only bring further grief to those people who may or may not have relatives interred in the burial pits.

Norman

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The Australian Identity Disks were returned to the AIF by the German authorities.

Bright Blessings

Sandra

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Rightly so Seadog,in my own opinion this Excavation was planned and is being executed by people with a Deep belief and heartfelt passion in what they are doing.However i think that as from the evidence gleaned so far that the ID of any remains that are found is going to prove very,very,difficult due to the Mixing up of the Remains and the very fact that they have been buried in a Pit and not a Grave,the German Burial parties would not have bothered to have seperated Australians from British..the main German aim being simply to get the Bodies under ground as quickly as possible to avoid the spread of Disease and contamination during the hot weather,quick Lime also being used to expediate their decomposition..a dignified Burial ?..i must say not..maybe members of the German Burial Party said a Silent Prayer for these Men.As for Personal effects remaining on the Bodies,the Germans would have previously searched the Bodies for any items that could have been used by them for intelligence purposes..I.E. Pay Books,Dog Tags,Maps,Insignia,etc,..other personal items would have almost certainly been removed prior to Burial as Souvenirs or Trophys or to be Traded with rear Area Troops.The British and Commonwealth Soldiers would have done exactly the same to German Dead,indeed there are numerous accounts of Tommy Atkins "Souveniring" the Dead,and i am certain that Soldiers of all the Belligerent Combatants would have done this.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Quite possibly PBI ... but as I mentioned previously, in all the cases of the AIF soldiers the ID's have been returned. I have seen a couple of the ones I am working on that have had their paybooks returned. So I guess not all was 'bad'.

I guess it would be that much harder with the British soldiers as the service records are not available and in this case we are very fortunate.

Bright Blessings

Sandra

Link to comment
Share on other sites

A very Large percentage of British Soldiers service records from WW1 were destroyed in German Bombing raids in WW2... :(

Link to comment
Share on other sites

That's interesting PBI ... I thought it was all of them!

Bright Blessings

Sandra

Link to comment
Share on other sites

That's interesting PBI ... I thought it was all of them!

Bright Blessings

Sandra

Not all Sandra,we do have the So Called "Burnt Documents" which survived,but in an albeit damaged state...Regards Russ.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

That's interesting Russ ... how do we find these? Are they indexed at all?

Bright Blessings

Sandra

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I know that they were available on Film at the Public Records Office at kew,but i have not been there for a very long Time.Maybe a Forum member can enlighten us Both Sandra...couldbe worth starting a seperate Topic or maybe searching the Forum... :D

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Probably ... but I ask the question specifically for the Fromelles boys ... just in case some dedicated Fromelles researcher decides that they want to trace the British men in the area at the time :)

Mind you ... so many of the AIF boys I am working on are from the UK that it requires research there to trace the families as there certainly are none here ... they may have had brothers in the British forces :)

Bright Blessings

Sandra

Link to comment
Share on other sites

http://www.cwgc.org/search/casualty_detail...asualty=1460484

This Man is a Good Example,He comes from my Town,and His Parents are both in the Local Churchyard.CSM Feist was the Son of J.Feist of 83,Hazelwick Road,Three Bridges,Crawley,West Sussex..Any info on Him ? ..PM me if you do.Many thanks

Link to comment
Share on other sites

http://www.cwgc.org/search/casualty_detail...asualty=1460484

This Man is a Good Example,He comes from my Town,and His Parents are both in the Local Churchyard.CSM Feist was the Son of J.Feist of 83,Hazelwick Road,Three Bridges,Crawley,West Sussex..Any info on Him ? ..PM me if you do.Many thanks

Feist's letters from the front are in the collection of AWM to my knowledge. They are quoted in Bill Gammage's book, The Broken Years. However, he died at Pozieres, not Fromelles.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Feist's letters from the front are in the collection of AWM to my knowledge. They are quoted in Bill Gammage's book, The Broken Years. However, he died at Pozieres, not Fromelles.

Cheers Paul,i will order a copy if it is still available,many thanks for the info.I was just using Him as an Example.Regards.R.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sandra,

The "Burnt Documents" are viewable on microfilm at the National Archives in Kew, but they are also in the process of being put onto Ancestry.com, so viewable on-line.

This makes it far less tedious than searching through reels and reels of microfilm.

Regards,

Martin

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ahhh you are a sweetheart ... thanks Martin.

Bright Blessings

Sandra

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Here in Sydney tonight on radio 2UE via a satphone link, Major General O'Brien(Australian Army) speaking live from the dig site, stated that they were now confident that the pits contained many bodies, although only 30 have been located to date. He went on to explain his reasoning for this. When asked by the interviewer how the site was found in the first place, he acknowledged Lambis efforts over the last six years in his research. He also made mention of the Australian collar badge that had been found and this was enough to confirm Australian bodies were present. For once the interviewer asked very relevant questions and the Major General did at no time evade answering any question. All in all, a very good interview.

Macca

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Interesting to know if the 30 sets of remains are spread among more than one pit - I presume so - although it would certainly now appear that we are dealing with a substantial number.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ian,

The number are indeed spread over the five pits suspected of holding remains. The pits are each about 10 metres long by 2 metres wide and the excavation opened a section only a few metres long at one end of each pit. According to the information I've been given, bodies have been discovered in each and it appears the remains may be lying two or three deep.

The Australian 'Rising Sun' collar badge was located in Pit 4.

If we extrapolate that number across each entire pit, then we are looking at quite a substantial number of bodies indeed.

Cheers,

Tim L.

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...