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new bodies have been found ....Beaucamp ligny


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#51 seadog

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Posted 27 November 2009 - 05:34 PM

A point of view certainly George but I am a little confused, when you say bury them under the regimental marker, after identifying their regiment. How do you do that if not by very careful removal of all possible artifacts which may be found with the remains? Even if such identifiers are found how to you associate them with individual sets of remains such as the 6 found at Contalmaison unless you record each excavation in detail. Even worse how do you then treat the hundreds found in the pits at Fromelles without proper professional excavation and recording of the sites? Are you actually saying that we should make no attempt at identification whatsoever except for their regiment, bearing in mind that we are not just talking about WW1 discoveries but those of WW2 and other conflicts. Surely proper excavation and attempts at identification is the least that the missing deserve from us. As for a fanfare in the press, do you think it right that the discovery of the latest 15 British soldiers is generally reported in Europe but not in the UK, hardly a fanfare I think.

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#52 MelPack

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Posted 27 November 2009 - 05:34 PM

George

I really do not think that it is a matter of 'fanfare' to restore an individual identity even ninety plus years after a death.

The fact is that fifteen sets of remains have been discovered and they appear to be clearly identified as emanating from a group of thirty two missing soldiers.

Are you suggesting that these men should be denied the possibility of a named grave?

Mel

#53 ian turner

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Posted 27 November 2009 - 08:38 PM

My tuppence worth....

The whole of the effort of commemoration, originally in the form or the war memorial, was aimed at giving a focal point to grieving familes who could either not visit their loved one's grave or never had that chance, since the chap "through the fortunes of war" was denied a proper burial.

How many times do we researchers obtain a sense of satisfaction that a name on local memorial - say Smith, J - is eventually proven to be Private John Smith of such and such a regiment, who died at a certain battle, and has no known grave. At least we found out who he was, even if not where he now lies. We give him back some modicum of dignity, even if he was the end of a family line that has literally died out. Example - the "In From The Cold" project.

How many service records have we read (I am thinking of the Australian records here) containing poignant letters from mothers, wives or fathers enquiring into the whereabouts of their missing lad? Or original burial reports which neverthless resulted in a lost grave.

What then if remains are found? The very essence of what we, often voiciferously, proclaim as sacrosanct - never forgotten, etc. For what reason do we get outraged when a memorial or grave is desecrated? What would we say to a present day army widow, if we found a body or two, but were not sure if it might be their husband. Shall we say 'thought to be?" That is frankly unimaginable.

So what is the difference for a Great War casualty whose remains are finally uncovered? We might have the chance to discover who you were, but frankly you've been buried all these years where you fell, your family who knew you are all now dead (well, mostly), and the authorities are shying away from the cost of properly identifying you. We can perhaps do the bare minimum and re-inter you in a military cemetery, and there are even those who say leave you where you are. You've been there for such a time, why disturb things now?

We have increasing interest from families uncovering their own history - and TV programmes made about it - with much emotion on learning of the sacrifices of but a couple of generations ago, but we might shy away from the actual fact of finding the missing. Maybe that path already started back in the 1920's, when official recovery efforts ceased, but it seems a great pity to not now walk that extra mile in identifying remains when we increasingly have the technical ability to do so.

I have a Great Grand Uncle who lies unburied at Galipoli. Of course I never knew him. I did not even know of him until recent years, when starting my researches. I have no contact with decendents on his side of my family. I have therefore little emotional ties. But nonetheless I would like to think that, if his remains were uncovered (or the whereabouts discovered), effort would be made to gain his identification and place him in a marked grave. I believe it is owed to him and his comrades. Should we not just "do the least", but do "the very best" by them?

#54 dycer

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Posted 28 November 2009 - 07:28 AM

I cannot dispute any of the points raised in the previous posts.
With Fromelles a serious researcher identified an area of ground where burials may have been made but are unrecorded.Due to pressure funds have been made available to open the ground,where bodies have been found,identify if possible,then re-bury in a new cemetery.
As I understand Beaucamp Ligny,these bodies have been stumbled upon,individual remains will be identified,if possible,then re-buried in an existing cemetery.Presumably this practise was established during the post-War clearances and concentration.
If this practise was satisfactory to the immediate post-War generation why should it now be questioned 90 years later?
If the practise can be questioned surely then there is an argument,which I don't support,that unknown graves lying within CWGC Cemeteries should be opened,so that modern identification procedures can be applied,to determine if the remains can be named.
George

#55 PBI

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Posted 28 November 2009 - 08:05 AM

George..This topic has drifted slightly from its main course,said course was originally drawing into question the CWGC/MOd and their apparent current agenda of Secrecy,lack of information about discovered remains of British Soldiers,and excessive speed and haste in which the CWGC/MOD seem to use when interring these mens remains.

#56 seadog

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Posted 28 November 2009 - 08:41 AM

George I am genuinely at a loss to understand your latest post. Where did you get the idea that “If this practice was satisfactory to the immediate post-war generation why should it now be questioned 90 years later? nowhere on this topic had that statement been made or alluded to. However the methodology of the modern recovery of remains has been questioned together with the deliberate or otherwise total lack of information with regard to news of the discoveries being disseminated to the pubic here in the UK.

I would have thought that by reading the posts these facts would have become all too apparent. As for your comment about opening existing “Known unto God” graves in an attempt to identify the unknown, do you not understand that if possible this would have been done at the time of their original burial and for you to make such a comment on this topic is regrettable.

Norman

#57 ianw

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Posted 28 November 2009 - 09:59 AM

I simply cannot understand why the efforts made to identify the fallen at Fromelles are seemingly not being considered for these men found at Beaucamp Ligny. I also cannot understand the mind-set of any member of this Forum who stands against making all reasonable efforts to make a positive identification of any such remains. Remembrance and its encouragement is the underlying principal that is the bedrock of this Forum.

As I understand it the found remains have a possible group of only 30 or so possible identifications. One can imagine the combined research abilities of this forum identifying living relatives for DNA matching in days or weeks. It would be a travesty and a tragedy if ID of these remains is not attempted.

It also makes me incandescent when anti-ID luddites, trot out the very stupid line " I suppose you want the CWGC to dis-inter all the unknowns and attempt DNA ID?"

NO OF COURSE NOT!

I would not be surprised if the possible future costs of ID attempts are very worrying to the bean-counters associated with the CWGC - they also probably trot out the "thin end of the wedge" argument about successful IDs leading to ID attempts being demanded for all the unknowns.

One does get the impression that the CWGC is not too keen to have the glare of publicity shone onto the discovery of remains and would prefer to be left with carte blanche over how they are dealt with.

One wonders what would have happened had these 15 men been Americans? Does anyone know how the US reacts when its men's remains are found in the Ardennes or wherever.

#58 dycer

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Posted 28 November 2009 - 11:07 AM

Ian,
I have responded to seadog(Norman) by p.m.
I abhor the thought of CWGC graves being disturbed for the sake of identification and I have always found the CWGC courteous and helpful when answering my questions and correcting minor errors e.g. an incorrect year of death or incorrect Cemetery photo,displayed on their Web-site.
I,therefore,feel the fault of any failure to try and fully identify the men recently found does not rest with the CWGC rather with the Organisations that supply the Commission's Funds.Whether additional funding should be supplied to the CWGC,to assist and enhance their work is a political one and not for debate on this Forum I suggest.
George

#59 seadog

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Posted 28 November 2009 - 01:13 PM

George we have exchanged PMs and yet you persist in the statement that you have concerns about "CWGC graves being disturbed for the sake of identification" where are you getting this information from. You must be aware that this has not been discussed on this topic and I believe that you now owe us an explanation as to why you are persisting with this assumption.

So please let us all know what has prompted this belief for if you cannot substantiate your remarks then you owe all of us an apology for intimating that statements have been made on this topic to the effect that existing war graves in CWGC cemeteries containing those that fate has denied the basic honour of a name will be disturbed by exhumation in order that a further attempt can be made to somehow identify the remains.

This is a gross distortion of the facts as presented on this topic and I anticipate your measured and considered response in due course.

Norman


#60 ianw

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Posted 28 November 2009 - 01:28 PM

Personally, I do not think that Fromelles is a special case - there are just a large number of remains involved. I think the CWGC should always be trying to establish the identity of remains where it is likely to have a good chance of success. Fromelles satisfied this criterion and so, I think do the remains found at Beaucamp Ligny.

As I understand it the substantial costs of Fromelles are being mostly bourne by the UK and Australian governments although there no doubt will be some additional costs to the CWGC. I presume the new cemetery's ongoing maintenance costs will be out of general CWGC funds but how will the Visitor Centre be paid for now and in future years?

I think the future treatment of remains in respect of identification is a legitimate debating point for this Forum because of the numbers of Forum members who have the expertise to assist the ID process - witness those actively involved in the Fromelles research. There is a need for the "conscience" of the CWGC to be reinforced/encouraged by external scrutiny of its actions.

#61 dycer

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Posted 28 November 2009 - 01:48 PM

I have no information to suggest that CWGC burials will ever be disturbed,for identification and I for one would strongly resist such a move.
However a precedent has been made with the current DNA investigation into the Fromelles casualties and indeed the question is being posed regarding the Beaucamp ligny men i.e. if DNA techniques can be used at Fromelles why can they not be used at Beaucamp?
If everything is being done at Fromelles in order to identify casualties to give descendants peace of mind,then this should be extended to Beaucamp.
But are we not on a slippery path to pressure the CWGC to allow DNA investigation of their unknown casualties,in order to give their descendants a similar feeling of closure?
George

#62 seadog

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Posted 28 November 2009 - 01:54 PM

Ian no right minded person with any understanding of the subject would disagree with you. Yes of course the actions or more properly the inactions of the CWGC are a proper subject for debate. If as I understand it the remains recently found can be limited to 30+ possibilities then there must be an attempt to use DNA in order that some if not all of the soldiers can be identified. What will happen in the future if perhaps yet a more accurate method of identification is found?, are we to ignore such a facility, I think not.

What did McCrae write:

"If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep
Though Poppies grow
In Flanders Fields"

Let us not break faith and do everything possible to give these fallen a name which was denied to so many who still lay waiting to be discovered.

Norman

#63 ianw

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Posted 28 November 2009 - 02:06 PM

The nature of the work of those recovering Great War remains has not changed over the years but it has to develop. It has always been an aim to forensically give the best possible identification to the remains found ranging from full identification to just a unit or nationality. Fortunately, DNA techniques represent a massive leap forward and should be used where practicable and likely to be successful.

I disagree completely that the successful identification of newly found remains will open a floodgate of demands from relatives for mass exhumations. At this distance in time, this is just not going to happen. I can conceive of a few special cases which might merit consideration. If we are convinced that we are doing the right thing for the Fromelles fallen then we must do the same for those discovered at Beaucamp ligny.

#64 seadog

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Posted 28 November 2009 - 02:27 PM

George no doubt to the great relief of both you and the rest of the members of this forum this will be my final comment on your posts. The last one was just like the rest and any logical response is almost impossible, for instance; You now say that you have no evidence to suggest that existing CWGC burials will be disturbed, so why did you make and repeat your concerns that they would be in your previous posts?. You then follow this by the statement that a precedent has been made with the Fromelles fallen, you do understand that these were initially buried by the Germans do you? Therefore the disinterment and investigation has nothing to do with the CWGC.

Finally the last sentence repeats your concern that there is a possibility of the present unknown soldiers resting in CWGC cemeteries being subjected to exhumation and investigation. Frankly George your postings here have been so obtuse as to defy an intelligent response so may I suggest that you take your views elsewhere on this forum and that you comment on a subject which at least you have some knowledge and understanding of.

Norman

#65 Alan Curragh

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Posted 28 November 2009 - 02:38 PM

QUOTE (seadog @ Nov 28 2009, 02:27 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
so may I suggest that you take your views elsewhere on this forum and that you comment on a subject which at least you have some knowledge and understanding of.

Norman


Norman - a reminder of the rules

You will respect the right of others to express their opinion.

Alan

#66 Clutterbuck

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Posted 28 November 2009 - 05:08 PM

I confess the graves are not a subject in which I am greatly interested and I'm too lazy to read all 3 pages of the above comments. However, without understanding the origin and nature of this debate, I would like to add my own tuppence worth of comment from off the top of my head.

Whilst I'm sure that everyone on this site fully approves of the efforts being made at Fromelles and expects the same effort to be made at Beaucamp-Ligny, there should be limits as to the amount of disturbance to be allowed at the cemetaries we all know and love... regardless of the good intentions of those involved and the modern magic of DNA.

In truth, this argument does not apply to newly discovered bodies as in the above 2 cases; but if my limited understanding of this subject is correct, it certainly should apply to DNA or other investigations; particularly in the case of those soldiers Known only unto God resting in long established burial sites.

Once again, and I stand to be corrected, not all the cemetaries have each and every body lying full square with its above headstone; and given the work load involved, and despite the care of the original guardians of these sites, it would be naive to believe that mistakes were not made.... indeed, in certain places the positioning of the bodies may be somewhat haphazard.

Protection of these sites should be a priority and I would not like to see excavations going on to see if some millionaire's DNA can be matched to that of great uncle Fred, or worse still a mass search for great uncle Fred's DNA amongst the graves of the Unknown.

It will be fascinating to discover the identities of even a few of the heroes of Fromelles and Beaucamp-Ligny and we should support those efforts unreservedly... but in regard to other locations, I believe there are lines we cannot cross whilst still preserving the integrity of the sites and respecting the memory of the fallen.

#67 Jim Smithson

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Posted 28 November 2009 - 05:25 PM

How did this thread drift into one which considers present graves. It is not the point that Norman and I were putting forward. The point is that where remains are found (not exhumed from present graves - that was never intimated) they should be removed with archaeological care, thus increasing the possibility of identification. Also that this should be done with the required publicity to allow those with an interest to follow the procedures.

The German equivalent of the CWGC - with hundreds of thousands of human remains in the east over the last few years have attempted with every single one to identify and name the soldier. We should do the same.

Jim

#68 dycer

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Posted 28 November 2009 - 07:36 PM

Jim,
I totally disagree,with your statement.
I acknowledge,the loss Germany suffered in the East and it's strive to, to if not bring its Soldiers Home,to acknowledge their passing and to ensure they receive a fit and proper grave,assuming the Family left in Germany choose to go East for their holiday,and take a moment in time to visit their Relative.
As seadog,well knows,or should appreciate I like France,as a Holiday destination,and my holiday will never be complete, in France,without at least a Coffee,in the Cafe adjacent to my Uncle John's resting place.
George

#69 seadog

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Posted 28 November 2009 - 08:06 PM

Well I am at a complete loss to understand the last post. It’s got me beat, can anyone explain what it means?.

Norman
(Politely)


#70 Clutterbuck

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Posted 28 November 2009 - 08:26 PM

QUOTE (Jim Smithson @ Nov 28 2009, 06:25 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
How did this thread drift into one which considers present graves. It is not the point that Norman and I were putting forward. The point is that where remains are found (not exhumed from present graves - that was never intimated) they should be removed with archaeological care, thus increasing the possibility of identification. Also that this should be done with the required publicity to allow those with an interest to follow the procedures.

The German equivalent of the CWGC - with hundreds of thousands of human remains in the east over the last few years have attempted with every single one to identify and name the soldier. We should do the same.

Jim




As I said previously, I had not followed the thread... and I fully agree with what you say in your first paragraph.

As for your second paragraph: one assumes that a grateful USSR did not donate any of its countryside for German military cemeteries after WW2, as France did to Britain in 1919. Yet is there really not a single German military cemetery in Eastern Europe? There should at least be some in Poland which, after all, the Germans controlled for 5 years or so. Whatever the truth may be, one assumes Germany is only repatriating 'lost' soldiers, if indeed there are any other kind.... or are they digging up absolutely everything and everybody they can lay their hands on.

The point I wish to make, is that just because the power of modern scientific techniques enables us to do that which was previously not possible, it does not always follow that we should. Noone is suggesting that the proper decorum has not always been observed, but one could imagine situations where it was not... and some kind of guidelines may become appropriate.

#71 SteveMarsdin

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Posted 28 November 2009 - 08:29 PM

Good evening All,

Bringing us back to Beaucamp Ligny; a week has now passed, do the CWGC not think it is worth bringing to the UK media's attention or have they done that and the media's not bothered ? It's a sad reflection on what's considered newsworthy these days.

#72 Jim Smithson

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Posted 28 November 2009 - 09:01 PM

Sorry Clutterbuck but you are mistaken in how you see the work of the Volksbund in Germany and also rather cynical over the stance of the German-Russian relationship. Signed on the 16th December 1992 and coming into effect on 21st July 1994, was an agreement over military cemeteries in all areas of the former Soviet Union. As a result there are around 1000 military cemeteries in Russia containing German remains and more are found or created every year. Yes the Germans do travel east to visit graves of those they lost, in both world wars; they are not repatriated. They are identifying known grave locations and registering them and also investigating a large number of sites known to have been burial places in either war. Each time finds are made the exercise has a dual purpose. One, to give the remains a proper burial and secondly to attempt to identify the remains. Everything is highly publicised and comes under intense scrutiny, a development I would like to see repeated in France.

Jim

#73 seadog

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Posted 28 November 2009 - 10:08 PM

QUOTE (SteveMarsdin @ Nov 28 2009, 08:29 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Good evening All,

Bringing us back to Beaucamp Ligny; a week has now passed, do the CWGC not think it is worth bringing to the UK media's attention or have they done that and the media's not bothered ? It's a sad reflection on what's considered newsworthy these days.


Hi Steve, I really do not think that it is a case of what is newsworthy for I feel that the UK media would be only to happy to publish a report of the discoveries as these events have been well covered in the past, particularly when multiple finds are made. Have you tried contacting the CWGC yet, if you do you may find that they do not consider such press releases as their responsibility and no doubt will pass the buck to the MOD perhaps you would like to contact them to confirm this. In my opinion none of this is "joined up" and it seems to be getting worse as time goes on. I have requested info from the CWGC in France with regard to the 7 sets of remains found at Contalmaison and as yet I have not received a response. I hate to say this but to me something smells a bit here and it would be good to see a more open approach to these situations from the authorities.

Norman

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#74 PBI

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Posted 29 November 2009 - 09:20 AM

Maybe some one in the know could enlighten us all,regarding the current stance of the CWGC/MOD and their continuing policy of lack of information being made available to the Media and the public,and their persistance in maintaining a wall of secrecy when it comes to informing the media and Public of new discoverys and interments.I have contacted the MOD and i am awaiting their response.

#75 Clutterbuck

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Posted 29 November 2009 - 01:31 PM

QUOTE (Jim Smithson @ Nov 28 2009, 09:01 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Sorry Clutterbuck but you are mistaken in how you see the work of the Volksbund in Germany and also rather cynical over the stance of the German-Russian relationship.



I stand corrected and bow to your clearly superior knowledge in this subject. As always, one cannot but be impressed with the knowledge of the chums. I mean this most sincerely, and it is not meant to be in the least facetious.

Whilst in this age of 'reconciliation' one might have expected the kind of bilateral agreements reached in 1992; I confess I am surprised that the Russians of yesteryear seem to have treated the German dead so respectfully.