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Fromelles16: July 19th events


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Furthermore, it is highly likely that all nationalities were mixed in together. In the case of the 'Rising Sun' badge: if the burials are two, three or more deep then it is possible that artefacts have moved over time.

I doubt that we will hear a conclusive decision on what is to happen with the area for some time.

What we can be sure of now is that there will be regular visitors there to honour all those buried which is something that has not happened since the burial.

Lest We Forget!

Bright Blessings


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Thanks Aaron ... it certainly brings home the reality of it all.

Bright Blessings


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I'm no expert on any of this - less still on the actions at Fromelles...but my minds been churning as to what's the best outcome of all this activity?

I throw my thoughts into this arena to see what you think?

1) Very glad these soldiers have been found and will at the very least get the deserved dignified burial they were denied through the haste of war

2) It's a shame the UK Govt/media are not as 'excited' as the Australians are on this discovery.

3) The potential for 'friction' is now immense. If the Aussies now pull out all the stops to identify their soldiers - then the British must do likewise. Where is the line drawn for any future digs?

4) Australia & UK need to agree NOW what they want to do with a) remains and B ) the site.

5) Is it 'right' to try and identify some individuals when the majority will remain 'unknown' (I say yes).

6) Do they create a new cemetery on site with mix of 'known' & 'unknown'? - or do they keep the mass graves and erect a memorial?

7) Do they move remains to an existing Cem nearby (no - in my opinion).

8) Are the authorities sufficiently confident of who's 'Missing' from that action to allocate 'X' number of names to the 'X' number of bodies found in order to have a List of those 'likely to be buried in this area'...which would probably mean removing names from 'other' memorials to the missing?

9) With bodies probably upto 3 - 4 deep can making a positive ID be practicable in enough instances? - (thinking of the highly respected NML team work at Loos)

10) For what it's worth - I'd like to see as many soldiers as possible identified and given a grave. The 'unknowns' should also have a marked resting place. A joint memorial to the Australian & British allies should be erected on the SITE (let the historians & politicians argue who was to 'blame' but for these guys a Comrade was a Comrade and they fought & died together irrespective of nationality.

Any more thoughts/observations?

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I think that there are protocols in place, that will answer your questions.

The CWGC will have the final say.

Terry will be able to answer this much better than I.

Is a memorial with names, "known to have been lost in the battle of Fromelles", better, than rows of gravestones, with "A soldier" known to God, enscribed there upon.

As has been said in other posts, their names are recorded on other memorials, but not at the site, so it is with very mixed emotion, that I say, leave them as they are, with a simple memorial, Lost at Fromelles.

As much as we want them to be there, they aren't really. They have moved on to where we do not know of, so what we do now, is of no consequence to them, only to those who live now. They may, or may not realise, that we respect, and appreciate their worth.

It is for the living, that memorials and gravestones are erected, a place where the living can pay their respect.

Row upon row, of Unknown soldier gravestones.


They died together, leave their mortal remains together.


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The Unknowns Are ALREADY Commemorated at VC Corner Memorial and the Ploegsteert Memorials to the Missing.One burning question that i have is,that when all the Equipment is packed up and the Archaeologists and Volunteers depart,will there be a Security presence at the Site of the Dig ?,because if not i will lay Money on the Fact that the Grave Robbers/Scavengers will be paying a visit in the not too distant Future !!.to conduct their own Dig.

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The decision whether to attempt to identify any remains found will be entirely that of the governments concerned - not CWGC.

CWGC will obviously be involved with the governments in any decision on how to care for the remains - individual graves or leaving them as a mass burial. Then CWGC will take over for future care and maintenance.

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At the risk of sounding like a grumpy old man (a badge I wear with pride, I might add), would it be possible to keep this thread at a factual level, to keep us informed of what is happening with the exploratory dig, etc.

We can speculate and postulate til the cows come home about what should and shouldn't happen at the site, with any remains unearthed, etc., but it won't make a blind bit of difference.

Keeping the the thread as a reflection of site activity would serve a useful purpose to all with an interest in this matter.

(Lights blue touchpaper and retires to safe distance)


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I applaud the work that has been done by Lambis and Co in putting pressure on the authorities to confirm whether or not there are remains at Pheasant Wood and that they are properly commemorated. That they have been found and will now be commemorated in a CWGC site is long overdue. It would be nice to think that we could identify all of them, but we can't guarantee that or anywhere near it.

Therefore, I question the urge by some to dig up these remains in the hope of identifying some of them. Kim has provided an eloquent opinion that strikes a cord with the views of all I have discussed it with here.

The men who are buried there don't have a say in it. The relatives who actually knew and loved them are now dead. Most of the living relatives are now three or four times removed and never knew them.

Most, if not all, of those who are actively advocating identification have no connection with the dead of Fromelles and none can definitely claim connection with the dead in Pheasant Wood. While most have decent intentions and sincerely want to see them identified, I suspect any identification will largely serve their own particular interests and sense of satisfaction rather than those of the dead or possible relatives. Unfortunately, they are raising the expectations of some possible relatives by claims that DNA is the answer. Bmac has told us of the difficulties associated with DNA testing and I think it is a fair bet that only some will be identified. Does this justify digging up and subjecting the others to all the testing that will go on? What do they say to those possible relatives whose expectations were genuinely raised and are not be met?

It is not the Australian Government or public who are pushing for identification at this time, but a very small and vocal minority. I notice of late that a couple of Australian journalists are now questioning the morality of digging up the remains and picking over them in the hope that some may be identified. There is a growing disquiet in some quarters here over the motives and the ethics of the whole issue of digging up the remains. We should not assume the general thrust of many of the posts on this thread are representative of the general Australian view.

Why must we dig up the graves at Pheasant Wood and disturb the remains? Why cannot they be left to Rest In Peace (as we so often advocate on this Forum) and be commemorated equally with a new CWGC site similar to VC Corner cemetery?

I think we should all ask ourselves truthfully "whose interests are really being served by digging these remains up and trying to identify them"? Don't tell me "those who lie in Pheasant Wood" because we can't speak for them.

In the end the Governments involved will make the final decision after considering all the issues and implications and the CWGC will then act on that decision.

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Why must we dig up the graves at Pheasant Wood and disturb the remains? Why cannot they be left to Rest In Peace (as we so often advocate on this Forum) and be commemorated equally with a new CWGC site similar to VC Corner cemetery?

Here here!



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Everybody has their own opinions and each of us are entirely entitled to them. In fact, I'd go as far as to say that just about all of them have merit and have been derived from a correct sense of remembrance - even if they are opposing ideas.

However, there were a few comments you made that I'd like to address.

It is not only 'those with no connection to the dead' that are advocating identification. From my research locating descendants, the strong groundswell from actual relatives leans distinctly in favour of identification and I'd call them a little more that just a vocal minority. Your post also suggests that the descendant families are that far removed from their ancestor that the events at Fromelles would mean little to them. Both Sandra and I can tell you through experience that this suggestion is erroneous. Quite a number of times now, both Sandra and I have spoken with descendants who were in tears while recounting the lasting effects of Fromelles had on their family - right up until the present generation. And I was truly amazed by the numbers we contacted that knew all about their missing ancestor and after having heard of the discovery were overjoyed that perhaps he might be found at last.

Now, before anyone jumps on me, yes 'personally' I am also in favour of identification, however it must be stressed that I do not voice this opinion through the research website and nor have I influenced any of the descendants in this manner. In fact, you will see no mention of identification nor DNA anywhere in our research unless first mentioned by the descendants contacting us. And when asked, I simply advise that there is no decision yet been made regarding identification and much to investigate and consider before that decision is made - if it's even possible. I hope that dispels any thought of including our work amongst those you consider to be 'raising expectations'.

Ultimately, I do not believe this to be a 'right or wrong' issue as there is no correct or incorrect answer to the question. Everybody's individual opinion is valid and bears consideration. What we must be careful to not do is present our personal opinions as being representative of anyone else's thoughts but our own.


Tim L.

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I agree that we need to stay with the factual points of the exploration and let the speculation of what should be done rest.

However, in speaking with the families that I have, I discover that many have followed on from their elders in endeavouring to find out just what did happen to their relative who 'went missing' at Fromelles. These have been very emotional conversations and drive me even more to complete the task. This type of experience is not limited to Fromelles either as I have spoken with many living relatives during the course of other military research.

I must also say ... specifically as I am working with Tim on the family history to trace the living relatives ... my personal opinions as to what the outcome should be differ somewhat to those of Tim but that in no way affects the work that I am doing or influences my conversations with the families. I firmly believe that the authorities will follow due process and afford respect and honour for our war dead at all times.

My point of focus in this project begins and ends with the family history of the individuals I am working on and I will go to great lengths to achieve a positive outcome. I take great pride in being able to assist Lambis in the project, even in such a small way ... as with all of my individual soldier research I look at it as my way of saying THANK YOU!

Most importantly: Lest We Forget!

Bright Blessings


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Ultimately, I do not believe this to be a 'right or wrong' issue as there is no correct or incorrect answer to the question. Everybody's individual opinion is valid and bears consideration. What we must be careful to not do is present our personal opinions as being representative of anyone else's thoughts but our own.


As you have inferred this is a very complex issue with many opinions floating about, a number of which are uninformed.- It is also a very sensitive issue that involves peoples emotions and must be treated with care. I admire and respect much of the work you do in assisting others Tim, but I doubt very much if you would be so strong in pushing for identification if your particular interest wasn't in this field.

Just to put the record straight I am not presenting my own personal view as being representative of someone else's thoughts - that is a cheap parting shot. I have asked several people to gain a measure of the wider views, including a possible relative who is a personal friend. As you feel quite justified to present the view of possible relatives whom you have contacted, I think we can present the views of people we have spoken with - let's not adopt two sets of rules in this discussion.

I say possible relatives because how do we know that any of them actually have family members buried in Pheasant Wood and not in other cemeteries? There are many hundreds of the Fromelles missing buried in VC Corner Cemetery, Anzac Cemetery, Aubers Ridge British Cemetery, etc and some still remain unfound in the old no man's land. Can we say to the relatives you have contacted that their man is not in these cemeteries? Why do they assume their man is in Pheasant Wood - is this a result of their expectations being raised inadvertently because they have been contacted over the matter at such an early stage of proceedings? Have they been advised it is highly possible that their man is actually buried in a CWGC cemetery.

There is a growing concern in some quarters. In particular, what gives private citizens with a keen interest in the subject the right to contact possible relatives when the proper channels are through the CWGC once the true situation and possibility of identification has been properly assessed? It smacks of interference in the due process of a highly sensitive issue. As I have said their intentions are well meaning but they really have no right to contact possible relatives off their own bat. Do we ignore those possible relatives who wish the remains to be left undisturbed because we personally want to see them identified? There are deeper issues here that some of us seem to be ignoring.

All I am saying is let's not allow our own particular interests and desires in this area override all other considerations and due process. At this stage it is a matter for the Governments involved to follow that process and the rest of us should not interfere in it.

With great respect,


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Chris ... I did mention earlier that these particular men that we are looking at died behind enemy lines and had their identity disks (in some cases paybooks) returned by the German authorities.

Bright Blessings



Forgot to mention ... were listed on a German burial list included with the ID disks.

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That may be so Sandra but I don't think it is our perogative to contact those relatives off our own bats. That is pursuing one's own interests, however well intentioned, rather than allowing the appropriate authorities to make a proper analysis of what can and can't be done and then contacting those relatives with the full information. This is a sensitive issue that must be handled with care.

I understand the Germans also buried a number in the communication trench dug between the lines during the battle.

Anyway enough from me.



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Sorry Chris,

My parting comment wasn't intended to be aimed at you and was a generalisation regarding a few (mainly media) who mislead by claiming to profess a view held by the majority. For instance, the Herald Sun in Melbourne posted an article, the headlines of which claimed descendants wanted the remains left untouched. (sorry I haven't got the paper with me so can't give you the exact wording). This article then went on to discuss the matter yet was basing it's entire headline on their interview with one descendant....hardly what I'd call representative of them all. And as a matter of interest, I have spoken a number of times with the descendant they quoted and his thoughts aren't quite as clear cut as that although he does lean in that direction.

I would agree that there are those who are a bit flippant about DNA testing as if it were the 'quick fix' to everything. This just shows their ignorance of the complex scientific processes and issues surrounding it's application.

I'm not sure what you are driving at regarding my views on identification being a result of my particular interests? I have long had an interest in the AIF's role during WW1 but why should that influence my views regarding identification of remains? I have long held my views on this issue for a number of reasons well before I became involved in researching Fromelles - none of which are self-serving. And no, our research doesn't ignore descendants based on their point of view. In fact we do not even ask people for their thoughts regarding the issue. Your inference of something other than that is disappointing and a little bit offensive. If you would like to comment on our research, I am happy to listen but may I suggest you aquaint yourself with exactly what we 'are' doing before jumping to conclusions and publicly using those misconceptions to bolster your point of view regarding identification.

I also don't think seeking out the descendants is in any way harmful to the process. To be clear, throughout our research we took no active steps to contact anyone off our own bats until the presence of remains was confirmed. Once this was established, I believe it is the right of the descendants to monitor the progress of the investigation and have an active 'input' into the final outcome rather than have to wait to be 'told' what is to become of their relatives.

And as Sandra has pointed out, we have the evidence regarding the Australians buried at Pheasant Wood and can identify the names of those men to a very reasonable degree of accuracy - thanks to German records.


Tim L.

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Just to show you what my work has entailed ... this is a sample minus the cemetery photographs, personal photographs and death notice macro entries:

NAME Boyce, William Edwin (Edward)

SN 1218

RANK Private

UNIT 32 Battalion

HONOUR Standard entitlements

BORN Gulgong NSW (Cassilis district) 1887 Reg No 24684


RELIGION Engine Driver

DOE 19.06.1915 Meekatharra W. Aust

AGE 28

Address at time of embarkation was Meekatharra W. Aust


DATE 20.07.1916 (19.07.1916)

AGE 29 years and 4 months

BURIED Unknown

MEMORIAL VC Corner Cemetery Memorial panel 5

AWM 120

DESCRIPTION Height: 5 foot 7 1/8 inches hair brown

NOTES His identification disc was received from German authorities

The Death Voucher states that he fell in the vicinity of Fromelles on 19.07.1916

A statement from a soldier who knew him well says he saw him killed on 19.07.1916

at Armentieres. They went over the parapet at 7 o'clock in the evening just as it was

getting dusk, they were in the same platoon. The ground was lost and the all retired

in the morning.

NOK Parents: deceased on enlistment. They were Michael and Isabella Boyce

(nee Burns) and were married in Coonabarabran NSW 1876 Reg No 2415

Isabella died 23.01.1911 aged 58 buried Karrakatta Cemetery Ang FC 472

Michael died 14.03.1905 aged 57 buried Karrakatta Cemetery RC CA 44

Isabella was residing in W. Perth and Michael in Subiaco at time of their deaths.

Metropolitan Cemeteries Board advised that there was no headstone for Michael or



(Photograph number 8343)


In loving memory of our dear mother Isabella Boyce who died 23rd Jany 1911

aged 58 years. Safe in the arms of Jesus.

(As it says 'our dear mother' then there must be more children)


Sister: Elizabeth Lydia Boyce born district Cassilis NSW 1877 Reg No 10327

She died 24.06.1951 buried Karrakatta Cemetery Ang ZI 95

Elizabeth married Henry McCarthy in Subiaco 1901 Reg No 1630

Henry McCarthy died 21.08.1958 aged 83 buried Karrakatta Cemetery RC ZE307


Elizabeth and Henry had the following children:




Eric Harvey was born 03.03.1916 married Elsie Joyce.

Eric was in the RAAF and was accidently killed 23.11.1943 and is buried in

the Adelaide River War Cemetery Northern Territory F. D. 4


(Photograph number 8350)


In loving memory of Elizabeth Lydia wife of Henry McCarthy loving mother of Isabel

Marguerite, Bernard and Eric (RAAF) Decd. Died 2nd June 1951 aged 73 years.

Peacefully sleeping.

(Photograph number 8339)


In loving memory of Eliza Harris devoted mother of Eric and Kitty. Passed away

18th Nov 1957 aged 88 years.

And her dear brother Henry McCarthy devoted father of Isabel, Rita, Barney & Eric (Dec)

Passed away 21st Aug 1958 aged 83 years.

Sister: Margaret Boyce born district Cassilis NSW 1879 Reg No 11714

Brother: Bernard Boyce born district Cassilis NSW 1880 Rego No 12404

Died 01.09.1942 aged 61 buried Karrakatta Cemetery RC CA44

Possibly married Charlotte in Fremantle see R/Marriages

Metropolitan Cemeteries Board advised no headstone


Sister: Mary Boyce born district Cassilis NSW 1883 Rego No 20804

Brother: John L Boyce born Cassilis NSW 1884 Rego No 22598

Married Elizabeth Arthur in Murchison 1914 Rego No 8

Sister: Annie R Boyce born District of Cassilis NSW 1891 Rego No 10264


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Engine Driver - is this a new Denomination Sandra ?..... :lol::lol:

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Shush you :P :P :P

I typed it in the wrong place!!!

Should be Teamster/Engine Driver

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Sorry about the re-posting the whole of Crunchy's post above....my mistake. I meant to just take one paragraph in particular, but no matter, his whole post puts forward an eloquent argument for leaving the remains where they are, now it has been ascertained this is the mass grave as suspected.

I agree there is no good reason for any more disturbance of the site, let the land be bought and commemorated as a CWG cemetery, and the men that lie there do so under the leafy trees of Pheasant wood.



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To I D or not to I D ? Have a look at how much the Americans spend on searching for their M I A. When one enlists in the US Forces the country makes you a pledge that should you fall on foreign soil they will return you home, this as a comitment to you for serving your country. Currently there is a team trying to recover the remains of a British bomber crew lost in WW2 in Malaya,( see - FEPOW - Web site ) although evidence of the crews remains were handed to the British embassy they have denied receiving them, so dont expect much from the British at Fromelles, one irate Australian has already been prompted to say that there are no British at Fromelles due to the lack of activity on their part, some things never change?

Re: Contact. In the programe `Lost Generation` Ch4 I think, familys were contacted and some never even knew they had lost relatives during the war. Some did not wish to know, while others went straight over to visit the final resting place, both sides of the argument there. It was I who found out about a relative at Fromelles and when I had got about as far as I could go with my research I put a request for help on the Web, after 4 months when I thought I had reached the end of the line with it, needle in a haystack and all that, I got a call out of the blue from Australia from Lambis and the rest has begun to fall into place ie: I am now in regular contact with the rest of the extended family in Australia and looking forward to the day we all meet up. One of the relatives down under was named after our relative that was KIA at Fromelles, the family are aware of the German records that state he was buried at Pheasant Wood and await the outcome of the investigation. His death tore the family apart, without going into personal detail, some of the letters are on the AWM site. Those who I have spoken with, the family that is, feel that a burial with honour by his country would finally after 90+ yrs bring `closure`, how many widows etc burned a candle right up to the end of their days? .....On the other hand.... maybe we could just `chuck` the muck back on and say "there you go lads" thanks for serving.

Thats my bit on the soap box, now just to add I agree with the comments previously about stick to the facts on what is happening at the site, that is what I come here for I cant get enough news, just wish I could be there, I will have to stick it out untill August when I go again, Oh..and just a note to say, Re-visitors, I placed flowers at Pheasant Wood, Armistice day last year, for those buried at the site, on behalf of Lambis.

Sorry to have gone on so long.

Colin S.

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