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new bodies have been found ....Beaucamp ligny


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#26 PBI

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Posted 24 November 2009 - 06:42 PM

QUOTE (seadog @ Nov 24 2009, 04:57 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Hi Connor, I have e-mailed the Chairman of the Somme RBL regarding the circumstances and location of the discoveries and if I get a response I will post it here.

Regards
Norman



Hi Norman,just getting a feeling of Deja Vu about the Discovery at Contailmaison and the subsquent hush hush about the interments ,and very little info from the CWGC...i thought that they had sorted their act out regarding more information to the Public and more transparency..obviously not.Ho Hum.

#27 seadog

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Posted 24 November 2009 - 06:50 PM

Mick (Post 25) you may want to contact the CWGC office in Arras who will no doubt have any further info that is available / note the bit in BOLD about emails.

Norman

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#28 seadog

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Posted 24 November 2009 - 06:58 PM

PBI thanks for coming on here, yes I feel the same that there is something not quite right here with the way that these discoveries and interments are being handled. After all I do not think that I am overstating it when I say "these were ours in the time of their youth" and we have a right to be informed of their final resting place arrangements so that those who are able can pay last respects on behalf of all of us, no more and no less.

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#29 PBI

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Posted 24 November 2009 - 09:35 PM

If these Men or their Regiments had been identified,i would assume there would have been Funerals with full Military Honours,and accompanying Media Coverage before and after the event.As they are unkown and unidentified..nothing was mentioned.

#30 Connor

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Posted 24 November 2009 - 11:44 PM

Hi Norman,

Thanks very much. I will follow this thread with interest.

cheers,

peter

#31 steve Berridge

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Posted 25 November 2009 - 10:24 AM

As the Vice Chairman and Standard Bearer of the Somme Branch of the Royal British Legion may I clarify our position as to providing information on burials.

On our Branch website www.rblsomme.org we only publish details of events that we as a branch have a direct involvement in the organisation of, or events that we have been asked to publicise.

The internments were arranged by the CWGC details of which were published on their website further details should have been available on request by contacting the CWGC.

Post event reports are published in our quarterly Branch newsletter the “Somme Bugle” which is available to all branch members and also viewable on our website.

The branch is heavily involved with the commemoration of all of our fallen soldiers wherever and whenever it can. This year alone outside of our two annual Somme ceremonies at Thiepval on the 1st July and the 11th November officers and standard of the branch have been invited to and attended various commemorations on other parts of the Somme battlefields, Normandy, Dieppe, Aubers Ridge and Fromelles, Brussells and Neuve Chapelle.

However we are not involved in any way with the recovery of soldiers remains found on the battlefields and therefore do not have any information as to where or under what circumstances any remains were discovered.

For the internments on the 14th October a formal burial service was conducted by the Reverend John Porter at all of the ceremonies which included the sounding of the Last Post and Reveille and the laying of wreaths.
Attending all of the ceremonies were the British Military Attaché, senior representatives of the CWGC and members of the public.
Officers of the Somme Branch together with the branch standard were in attendance at all three cemeteries for the burials of the 9 Unknown British Soldiers and at Bray Vale for the rehallowing of the grave of Australian Soldier William Phillips.

I hope this clarifies our position.

Regards

Steve


#32 seadog

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Posted 25 November 2009 - 11:54 AM

Thanks Steve for the clarification. However as you mention that the Somme RBL were in attendance at the interments may I ask how you were informed of the timing of these as such information apparently did not appear on the CWGC website. I understand of course that the RBL has no involvement in the circumstances involving the recovery of the remains and yet because you are based on the Somme is it possible that you are able to furnish any information relating to the discoveries for as you will be aware and to the best of my knowledge no such information has been posted on this forum or in the UK news media.

Thanks
Norman

#33 seadog

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Posted 26 November 2009 - 09:50 AM

Regarding the subject of this thread the 15 sets of soldier’s remains found at the commune of Beaucamps-Ligny can I ask a simple question to increase my knowledge of these types of discoveries. Considering the number of individual remains discovered who is responsible for the excavation of the remains and the recording and identification of any artifacts found. I ask this not in order to cast any aspersions on the skill and dedication on the people responsible but to suggest that in cases such as this would it not have been better to employ professionals such as archeologists who have the relevant experience and skills required to undertake such an investigation so that any artifacts which might identify the remains can be preserved. For all I know this many have already taken place, what do members think?.

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#34 matthew lucas

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Posted 26 November 2009 - 10:43 AM

my fealing is, that if no real effort was made to identify them, and their resting place was not going to be threatened, then leave them be - if remains are found, i personaly feal there is a duty (now whose is a different matter) to make every effort possible to id these men, what we see at Fromelles should be applied here
matt

#35 seadog

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Posted 26 November 2009 - 11:44 AM

Thanks Matt, I have long been concerned as have many others with the actual procedure relating to the excavation and recording of those human remains found in the course of building works and ploughing etc. For instance when such remains are found and the local Police are informed is it then considered appropriate that anyone qualified or not is able to excavate and remove the remains, including any artefacts that may be present.

I know that this is not a good comparison but if this happened in the UK all hell would break out and you will find yourself spending time with Her Majesty’s Police Force explaining your actions. I also recognise that the human remains may be as small in number as a just few bones or numerous as the 7 (In Total) found near Contalmaison on the Somme and interred on the 14th October this year.

In my opinion whatever the numbers the same procedure should apply, professional excavation and recording plus a full report to be available for public scrutiny via the Web. In connection with this subject I have a request on this thread asking for details of the remains found during the Boezinge excavations, information that should be readily available. In my opinion it is time for much more transparency from all the official organisations concerned.

Other Thread


Regards
Norman

#36 PBI

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Posted 26 November 2009 - 07:56 PM

Would anyone have any information as to where the remains were actually discovered,i would be very interested in Map references so as to pinpoint the exact location of the Discovery.Another question that has been niggling me is that the CWGc identified the remains as those of British Soldiers,i can only assume that ID was obtained by equipment found with the remains,and maybe a Cap Badge or other insignia..what happens to the Equipment and other associated effects ?.

#37 Jim Smithson

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Posted 26 November 2009 - 08:08 PM

Here we are again Norman - almost an identical thread to one we were involved in a year ago or so. Are we getting nowhere with this apparent haste with which discovered remains are 'dealt with' (I use the term carefully). I am sure that all kinds of respectful activities go on leading to the burials which, I am sure are carried out with great dignity. What galls somewhat is the lack of transparency with which the whole procedure is carried out. Thus leaving the kinds of questions asked above.

I now have a second reason to call in at Beaurains at Christmas!

Jim

#38 PBI

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Posted 26 November 2009 - 08:27 PM

Hello Jim,it will interesting to see how the 15 newly discovered sets remains of the men from the Yorks and Lancs are Quote "dealt with",i cant see the CWGC being able to quietly bury these men (As much as they would like to do so).This is a major discovery and all the remains are of British Soldiers.As Fromelles is just down the road from the discovery site i wonder if the CWGC/MOD would sanction DNA testing on the remains ?.Another question i would like to broach is,just WHO are the people that will exhume the remains..more of the local battlefield Archaeologists (Collectors) ?..and lastly on a cynical note i wonder if the Grave Robbers/Collectors/scavengers have already paid the site a visit ?.

#39 Chris Noble

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Posted 26 November 2009 - 09:21 PM

I am really concerned as to who is performing these 'activities.'
This 'veil' of secrecy that seems to be prevalent at the moment is most disconcerting.
Chris.

#40 seadog

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Posted 26 November 2009 - 09:56 PM

I understand fully the concerns and comments expressed by both Jim and PBI. In my opinion these have been prompted by the total lack of any official comments with regard to the discovery of both the soldiers interred on the 14th Oct and the most recent discovery of the 15 as detailed on this thread. In fact were not for the efforts of Gilles in Loos-en-Gohelle (Post 1) none of us would be any the wiser and possibly the only official notification would have been a typically brief note from the CWGC which would appear on their website for a very limited period.

I am also surprised by the fact that none of these discoveries appear to be covered by the media here in the UK; surely the CWGC could at the very least have issued a press release. The comment from PBI is a good one when he mentions that the remains interred on the 14th Oct have been identified as British and yet presumably no further artefacts which could have identified a regiment etc were found with the soldiers.

The authorities must understand that this attitude will continue to foster serious doubts over the exhumation and proper recording of the remains and will to do so until such time that a proper formal system of reporting such discoveries and interments is put into effect.

Norman


#41 SteveMarsdin

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Posted 26 November 2009 - 10:56 PM

Whilst I share Norman's and other contributors concerns I am a bit reluctant to join in a blanket criticism of "local" efforts. If it wasn't for the construction workers' and mayor's prompt actions then these remains may have at been lost/scattered etc.

Surely there is an official process in such cases; who is responsible for the identification and reburial of the bodies in such cases ? It is they that must address our questions, if it is the CWGC then hopefully our (and others) collective interest will get answers; if it isn't them then presumably it's a French matter ?

Don't the CWGC have a press officer ? The story has been in newspapers the length and breadth of France, not just in the North - I would have thought that, particularly in November, the UK press would have run the story ?

#42 seadog

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Posted 26 November 2009 - 11:29 PM

Steve I think you will find that when remains are discovered this is brought to the attention of the local police, following which the remains are excavated unless of course they already have been and then handed over by the police to the CWGC for burial. Somewhere along the line I think the MOD also comes into this but I am not sure exactly where.

I understand that the CWGC has no responsibility with regard to the identification of the remains and merely undertakes the burial / memorial role. Now this is where the trouble starts, someone or some organization has excavated the remains not I believe the police, so that the expertise or otherwise of the people involved in the initial excavation which will include any artifacts found with the remains is of paramount importance to the subsequent identification of same.

Because in general I understand that professionals are not utilized at the excavation stage it is very possible that the quality of the excavations can be extremely variable.

The CWGC must have press officers based in their European offices and as such should issue press releases to the UK media in the event of British remains being found, sadly it would appear that this did not happen with the excavations being discussed here.

Norman

#43 Ralph J. Whitehead

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Posted 26 November 2009 - 11:33 PM

QUOTE (PBI @ Nov 26 2009, 02:56 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Would anyone have any information as to where the remains were actually discovered,i would be very interested in Map references so as to pinpoint the exact location of the Discovery.Another question that has been niggling me is that the CWGc identified the remains as those of British Soldiers,i can only assume that ID was obtained by equipment found with the remains,and maybe a Cap Badge or other insignia..what happens to the Equipment and other associated effects ?.

Part of the procedures are in place to guarantee safety of the site and artifacts. I have been on sites where discovereis were looted during the night and valuable details needed to identify the bodies could have been lost.

As far as I am aware the artifacts found with the bodies are buried with the remains.

Ralph

#44 seadog

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Posted 27 November 2009 - 08:55 AM

A photo of the excavation of the 15 sets of soldiers remains from the French newspaper. The thought strikes me that it would be worthwhile to run that enormous pile of earth through a sieve but that may have been done of course.

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#45 matthew lucas

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Posted 27 November 2009 - 12:26 PM

yes anything that is found with the bodies will be buried with the body, if no id and no nok. Iif nok is found then anything found with that body is offered to them.
matt



#46 Jim Smithson

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Posted 27 November 2009 - 03:34 PM

Aaarg. Thanks for the photograph Norman. It confirms in my mind what happens. It is not what should happen. When, during an archeological dig human remains are found, they are excavated with extreme care (not a spade) and I just do not get the impression that such an action is taking place here. In no way am I saying that there is any lack of respect shown here, more lack of scientific and archeological technique to protect evidence. This would of course lead to more expense so one could conclude that the lack of funds leads to a lesser approach and that this less satisfactory approach is covered by ensuring as little publicity as possible. Maybe I am just a total cynic here but my motives are those of someone who believes that all remains are deserving due process, whether Iron Age or more recent.

Jim

#47 seadog

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Posted 27 November 2009 - 03:53 PM

Jim, yet again I agree with all of your comments. I believe that it is not possible to consider the whole question of the recovery, attempted identification and interment of soldier’s remains by its component parts but by an all-encompassing approach. I was of course very happy that in 2008 the CWGC agreed to publish impending interments on their website but since then things have moved on to the extent that the whole system of recovery etc needs to be viewed as a whole.

It is certainly my view that there should be established in every country where the CWGC has an office a list of trained and qualified archaeologists funded by the individual governments that can be called in when such discoveries are made and can provide an overview and supervision of the excavations to ensure that all necessary steps are taken in order that the sites are protected and that all artefacts are recovered and recorded as to their context within the site.

There will of course be cries of “This is nothing to do with the CWGC” to which I reply then who should be responsible for have no doubt these discoveries will continue at an increased pace due to redevelopment, well into the foreseeable future. The results of such excavations to be published and the CWGC to have the sole role in notifying the public at large of the results of the excavations plus the detailed arrangements for interment. If the will is there to adopt a better and more transparent system than already exists then this can be done.

Norman

#48 seadog

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Posted 27 November 2009 - 04:09 PM

It will be obvious to members that I am in “Long winded” mode yet again and because I did not want to bore you all silly with the length of my previous post here is a bit more of my proposal.

In order that people should not be deterred from reporting the finding of human remains I would suggest that where there is a valid case for compensation, digging up fields, stopping construction etc, then it should be paid. This hopefully will ensure that remains are not destroyed because to do otherwise would result in a monetary loss for the landowner.

Norman


#49 PBI

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Posted 27 November 2009 - 04:40 PM

Norman and Co.I would politely like to say that the CWGC/MOD have not moved with the Times when it comes to the recovery and identification of British and Commonwealth Soldiers Missing,and/or newly discovered remains.Maybe they should take a few lessons the American Military Dept who are responsible for the Exhumation,Identification and eventual commemoration of each American servicemans remains that they are tasked with exhuming and Identyfing.I do realise that the process of Identification can be a long and ardous one,and dare i say a very expensive process,but in my view these Englishmen whose remains for years have lain in the soil of France are surely deemed worthy of the best possible treatment,and the very latest scientific attempts of IDing and also some parity of Identification currently being afforded to the "Missing" of Fromelles.As long as the exhumations are carried out by well meaning unqualified members of the Public valuable evidence and possibilities for proving identification for these men will be lost for all time.

#50 dycer

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Posted 27 November 2009 - 05:13 PM

Can I come from this from a different tack.
I have an Uncle,whom, to all intents and purposes remains unburied,but is commemorated,by Name, on the Arras Memorial.
The CWGC,is bound by constitution,to give all UK and Dominion casualties,respect,when found.
The fact that these men have been found 90 years later,if there is a fault,does not lie with the CWGC but rather with those responsible for Battlefield clearance,bearing in mind,that the battlefields,were to be returned to productive use.
The Men,have lain anonymously,for 95 years,by all means identify their Regiment,so that they can be re-buried together,under the Marker(Regimental Badge) they died under.
But to pick over their bones,discuss artefacts,even the method of their discovery,possible identification, plus the CWGC's apparent weaknesses leaves me cold.
By all means,a fanfare,in the Press when they are laid to rest,but will the unassuming fanfare continue for the next 90 years?
George