WW1 Battle of Fromelles: Mass Grave being excavated.

BuggerAll

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
#1
A recently discovered mass grave from the battle of Fromelles is being excavated by a joint UK Oz project. The team will attempt to id the remains and a new Commonwealth cometary is being opened for them to have proper burials.


http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/8032908.stm


http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090505/ap_on_re_eu/eu_france_wwi_graves_2

There was quite an amusing interview with the top Oz bod on the today prog this morning.

Interviewer: I'm here with Major Mike O'brien, Major O'brien you are the head of the Australian Fromelles Project Group is that right,

Oz Bloke: No it isn't, I'm a Major General....

I couldn't tell whether he was amused or irritated at the uselessness of the reptile from the BBC.
 
#2
I read that there are about 165,000 buried at no known place or missing bodies from WW1 (allied side - no idea what the German numbers are).

So the plan to dig them up, identify and lay to rest seems a good idea to me.

However this is just the tip of the iceberg. Perhaps one day the trenches in southern Iraq will get the same treatment. Should be simpler - they were just neatly bull- dozered in.
 
#8
CQMS said:
They were laid to rest, why disturb them?
There are too many "what ifs" to leave them as is - future use of land being just one - whereas once they're under the care of the CWGC and buried in a cemetery on land donated in perpetuity, then they will be cared for forever.
 
#9
DozyBint said:
CQMS said:
They were laid to rest, why disturb them?
There are too many "what ifs" to leave them as is - future use of land being just one - whereas once they're under the care of the CWGC and buried in a cemetery on land donated in perpetuity, then they will be cared for forever.
And it is the fitting end these brave souls deserve afetr paying the supreme sacrifice
 
#10
The BBC reporter last night siggested that the action was futile and uneccesary since it was a diversion for a 'push' in the Somme campaign. Is a diversion uneccesary or was the reporter talking out of his rear.
 

BuggerAll

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
#11
Whet said:
The BBC reporter last night siggested that the action was futile and uneccesary since it was a diversion for a 'push' in the Somme campaign. Is a diversion uneccesary or was the reporter talking out of his rear.
With hindsight, and especially with modern attitudes it is difficult not to view many Great War actions as 'futile'. I doubt if they were seen so at the time.
 
#12
It's a war grave, if it happens to be in an inconvenient place then unlucky, the lads inside it were a bit put out too, the idea that you can just dig them up after nearly 100 years because they might be in the way is repellant.

Leave them alone.
 
#13
CQMS said:
They were laid to rest, why disturb them?
They weren't quite "laid to rest". They were hastily buried in a mass grave by the Germans after the battle.

They are being exhumed so that proper identification of the bodies can take place and they can be laid to rest in MARKED graves.
 
#14
chris951 said:
CQMS said:
They were laid to rest, why disturb them?
They weren't quite "laid to rest". They were hastily buried in a mass grave by the Germans after the battle.

They are being exhumed so that proper identification of the bodies can take place and they can be laid to rest in MARKED graves.
Given this, hopefully there will be many more marked graves than has been possible before. The lists of the names on the various memorials of those with unmarked graves is heartbreaking, so if they are able to name some of these brave souls and remove their names from the memorials, it should be done.
 
#15
chris951 said:
CQMS said:
They were laid to rest, why disturb them?
They weren't quite "laid to rest". They were hastily buried in a mass grave by the Germans after the battle.

They are being exhumed so that proper identification of the bodies can take place and they can be laid to rest in MARKED graves.
Apparently the Boxheads did the best they could under the tactical circumstances - so in a way they were in fact interred with respect and military honours. There is little chance that any of them will be identified (cardboard dogtags, deteriorated DNA, generational gap, etc), so mass burial under a generic headstone is not inappropriate - given the hundreds of thousands from all nations who are fragmented and lost on the battlefields.
 
#16
#17
There are many myths about the Great War. One is that Churchill put the ANZAC Troops in at Gallipoli because he didn't want to waste good British troops. This is completely without historical basis and, bearing in mind the "6 before breakfast" VCs won by the Lancashire Fusiliers quite unfair.
Another myth is that Fromelles was a side show of no consequence, purely engineered to bloody Australian troops who had missed out on the Somme. By honouring the Australian (and British) dead from this battle it is showing the world that Britain honours and respects the Australian, and indeed all, Commonwealth troops who fought on our side.
Honouring troops who have fought on our side may seem somewhat bizarre given our present Government's attitude and treatment of it's current troops, including the Gurkhas but most of the money is coming from Belgium and Service Charities, not from central funds.
 
#18
Markintime said:
There are many myths about the Great War. One is that Churchill put the ANZAC Troops in at Gallipoli because he didn't want to waste good British troops. This is completely without historical basis and, bearing in mind the "6 before breakfast" VCs won by the Lancashire Fusiliers quite unfair.
Another myth is that Fromelles was a side show of no consequence, purely engineered to bloody Australian troops who had missed out on the Somme. By honouring the Australian (and British) dead from this battle it is showing the world that Britain honours and respects the Australian, and indeed all, Commonwealth troops who fought on our side.
Honouring troops who have fought on our side may seem somewhat bizarre given our present Government's attitude and treatment of it's current troops, including the Gurkhas but most of the money is coming from Belgium and Service Charities, not from central funds.
Sorry mate, I disagree, it's not showing anyone anything, it is verging on grief junkie territory. The Germans did their best with what they had, the lads were buried forever honourably by their enemy, there are hardly any (if any) living people who remember them so leave them where they are.
 
#19
It is not really easy to 'leave them' now that we know they are there. If they were hurriedly buried - no doubt with due respect - in the tactical situation then existing, the full extent of the burial area may have been lost and any identifying markers destroyed in later action.
The general German practice was - consider Langemarke as an example - to have such mass graves with a single large marker for sometimes hundreds of casualties.
We the British Empire, did not however normally do this except for small groups of remains of soldiers killed by a single shell for example and therefore difficult to identify individually. Even then the marker is a single stone.
We could probably have in this case defined the approximate area which held the bodies and marked it as a mass grave with a proper surround and a single epitaph, with of course the customary Cross and Stone of Sacrifice.
However now that we have found them, we should do as we have alway done, give them an individual grave where possible. If their headstone states only 'Unknown Soldier' it will still be their final resting place.
After such a long period elaborate attempts to identify them may not be a good idea. They are written into the history of their families as 'missing in action' with no know grave. Their name will be on a memorial to the missing and that is where the focus of their family will have been since then.
And we should remember this is not a political issue, this is simply doing the best we can for these young brave men who died alongside their friends for a cause they probably did not fully understand.
 
#20
Leave them alone.

I can understand the reburial of the remains of someone ploughed up or found in a crashed aircraft, but this is a war grave, the lads inside died nearly 100 years ago, they are remembered on memorials in their home towns as are many who have no known grave. I fail to understand what desecrating the site, digging up unidentifiable remains that cannot be associated with an individual will achieve other than the self satisfaction of those doing the job. They are dead, you cannot "do" anything at all to them let alone the "best we can". WW1 is about to pass from living memory, the best you can do to honour these lads is to turn out on Rememberance Sunday and ensure that their efforts were not in vain.
 

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