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Bullecourt Burial Sites Found


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#26 Herekawe

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Posted 08 August 2010 - 11:42 AM

Seems to have missed the point. They won't be left in peace. Their graves are unknown and therefore not protected against development, grave robbers, overenthuastic ploughing, farmers with ditch diggers and so on. Better if possible to get them propertly interred.

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#27 ianw

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Posted 08 August 2010 - 12:18 PM

Good points James.

One only has to read the stories of the Bullecourt casualties on the "Australians on the Western Front" website to know beyond doubt that these brave men's remains should be recovered and honoured if at all possible. Debts of honour like this do not have an expiry date like a pack of bacon.

#28 SPOF

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Posted 08 August 2010 - 09:15 PM

A few questions...

Why has my Google alert for "bullecourt" not returned anything apart from these 2 Herald Sun articles?

Are there any media outlets in Australia which might have picked up this story not covered by those news alerts?

Most importantly, why did Lambis Englezos "decline to comment" on the original story?

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#29 PJA

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Posted 08 August 2010 - 09:25 PM

When we discuss these mass graves that are being discovered, we would do well to remeber that of all the soldiers who were killed on the Western Front, only about one fifth were from Britain or the British Empire. Is the CWGC blazing a trail here ? Any information about whether the French have commented on their intentions to follow this example : there must be enormous numbers of undiscovered Poilus. I wonder how they will be treated if they should come to light. And what of the Germans ? There might be as many as half a million of their dead in France and Belgium from 1914-18 who were not recovered for burial in formal cemeteries.

Phil (PJA)

#30 DavidB

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Posted 08 August 2010 - 09:41 PM

IanW,
Re your post no 22, I see that as a journo's remarks to try and make a name for himself. :angry2: However sometime ago I came across a letter in a Tasmanian newspaper about the Fromelles
find and much the same line of reasoning was mentioned. I am sad to say that there must be some people in and about - probably in other interested countries as well, who subscribe to the same
thoughts. I don't think they are correct but no doubt they don't we are correct either. A dead soldier, who lost his life fighting for his countries aims deserves at least a named grave, if possible and
allowed to rest in peace at least under a headstone, not just left in some unmarked trench.
David

#31 ianw

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Posted 08 August 2010 - 09:58 PM

David - yes, I agree that he may be just trying to provoke a response.

I agree with Glen that it's peculiar that this story has not been picked by any other Australian media.

Also a deafening silence from those that might be expected to know more.

Someone has made the point about the potential risk of grave robbery so one might ask the question regarding whether this site can be protected yet.

We need someone near Bullecourt to go and take a look!

(By the way, David, the title of this thread is a bit unexciting. You might wish to modify it or add a sub-title so that more Pals will take a look)

#32 kenf48

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Posted 08 August 2010 - 10:28 PM

I think ianw has raised a key point.

When the CWGC was working through the 1920s and 30s looking into the future it was probably assumed by the CWGC planners that the function of retreiving and burying bodies of Great War soldiers was a finite task and that as time passed the numbers of bodies they would have to deal with would decline and eventually taper off. The cost then would be the maintenance of the cemeteries. However looking at the problems they seem to have had fitting all the recovered bodies into existing CWGC cemeteries over the last 50 years, they underestimated the number of bodies that could be recovered and I think discovering more bodies is actually an embarrasment to them.

Thats why in the case of the BL 15 I am sure in the past they would have quietly slipped them into Unknown graves somewhere in France but now due to changes in public attitudes, the spectre of DNA testing, members of the GWF and world wide communications it not as easy to do that any more.

If this is correct you could ask does Frommelles set a precedent for future and potentially a change of direction in the treatment of newly discovered bodies?




The recovery, identification and burial of casualties is, and has always been the responsibility of the Army. As on the Fromelles website the relevant authorities are:-
"Anyone believing they may be related to a British soldier who may have died at the battle should contact: Historic Casualty Casework, Joint Casualty and Compassionate Centre, Services Personnel and Veterans Agency, Imjin Barracks, Gloucester GL3 1HW, Fromelles@spva.mod.uk or 01452 712612 x 6303/7330.

Anyone who may be related to an Australian soldier should visit www.defence.gov.au/fromelles for more information or call 1800 019 090 (from within Australia) or +61 2 6266 2369 (from overseas)."

At the end of the Great War, and other conflicts (as well as Fromelles) the cemetery is "handed over" to the CWGC for registration,commemoration and maintenance. (At Fromelles the CWGC project managed the process on behalf of the respective governments). In other words their responsibilities are clearly stated on their web site. The CWGC is also funded by the government contributions see http://www.cwgc.org/...inance&menu=sub Would the Australian Government increase their contribution?

To suggest casualties were 'slipped in' is to denigrate the dedication and principles of the CWGC and the respect armies have for fallen comrades (though the point about German casualties is well made) If the work of the CWGC is to be criticised either directly or as implied on this thread we should at least get the facts straight.

As for the final point quoted above, at a presentation on Fromelles yesterday the question was raised and the response was the CWGC is only too aware of the 'Fromelles precedent' and the implications of both technology and contemporary investigation for future funding.

Ken



#33 DavidB

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Posted 08 August 2010 - 10:59 PM

Ianw,
I'll give it some thought although at my last count there have been 31 replies and nearly 500 views.

David

#34 ianw

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Posted 09 August 2010 - 07:41 AM

Thanks Dave. I think the addition of the word "Bullecourt" helps a lot. I think it may be a place that a good deal of attention is given to in the future.

#35 ianw

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Posted 09 August 2010 - 07:53 AM

The recovery, identification and burial of casualties is, and has always been the responsibility of the Army.



Ken,

You do well to remind us of this but I think this is also one of the problems.

As witnessed by the official replies about the BL15, the JCCC is totally inadequately resourced for its possible responsibilities on the Western Front.

It's woeful for an inquiry about the fate of Great War casualties to be met with the response that "We're rather busy with Afganistan at the moment". We've seen the BL15 exhumed by local people with their garden spades which is a very undesirable state of affairs. Will we see similar happening in Bullecourt and other villages as it becomes realised that a pit full of Tommies or Diggers is a good potential source of tourist euros. An unedifying prospect, but IMO, a possibility if the JCCC and the CWGC don't get a grip.

#36 David Faulder

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Posted 09 August 2010 - 09:02 AM

Ken,

You do well to remind us of this but I think this is also one of the problems.

As witnessed by the official replies about the BL15, the JCCC is totally inadequately resourced for its possible responsibilities on the Western Front.

It's woeful for an inquiry about the fate of Great War casualties to be met with the response that "We're rather busy with Afganistan at the moment". We've seen the BL15 exhumed by local people with their garden spades which is a very undesirable state of affairs. Will we see similar happening in Bullecourt and other villages as it becomes realised that a pit full of Tommies or Diggers is a good potential source of tourist euros. An unedifying prospect, but IMO, a possibility if the JCCC and the CWGC don't get a grip.


It does seem that there is a bit of an ostrich mentality here. Do nothing and hope that it all quietens down. As you say if they don't get a grip there is a distinct problem of bodies being unofficially but deliberately unearthed ("privateer discoveries"), which has to be the worst possible state of affairs. Privateer exhumations are almost certainly illegal, but you can't stop "accidental" discoveries due to "wanting to put a drainage trench somewhere".

It seems that in getting a grip they (MOD/CWGC ?) need to consider:
  • Policy. How does the original purpose/policy work in today's world and how should it be applied (or possibly revised)
  • Do they in effect re-open their post WW1 clearance work (a massive undertaking - radar surveys of all battlegrounds?)
  • Do they only pick up accidental disturbances of remains (e.g. by weather and water or plough or developer's digger)?
  • Are there precedents set by Fromelles, or will each "grave pit" type burial be considered on a case by case basis?
  • What is the difference, for instance, between
  • placing a "believed to contain" or "a number of unknown soldiers of BEF/AIF" memorial over a grave pit.
  • exhuming and trying to identify those in grave pits
  • exhuming unknowns from trench graves in cemeteries that already have "believed to contain" or "known unto God" grave-stones?
[*]Staffing exhumation or recovery teams - primarily on the Western Front
  • Skilled task to maximise opportunities for identification
  • Necessary to counter any growing privateer work
[*]Staffing of the Historic Casework Group
  • Whilst we would probably want actual contact with relatives to be professionally handled, there are probably wider alternatives that just JCCC staff
  • Likewise researching the genealogy of the missing does not have to be done by JCCC
  • a "Big Society" opportunity surely?!
[/list]We may discuss such issues - but are they (MOD/CWGC etc.)?

David

#37 ianw

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Posted 09 August 2010 - 10:48 AM

Good analysis David.

The general thrust appears to suggest the need for the CWGC and JCCC to gear up their activities which I would imagine is precisely the opposite of what is intended for these 2 organisations! I would hope that someone is brave enough to suggest the changes you outline in a paper to the MOD as they are most reasonable.

#38 chrisharley9

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Posted 09 August 2010 - 12:04 PM

David Faulder may I believe have found the answer to some of the problems.

Excuse me please if im straying into the modern politics arena, but the Big Society may be the idea here; removing the power from the faceless civil servants to actually get things done.

A group of interested volunteers doing the donkey work on the paperwork may only be the beginning. Remember that IFCP managed to get a grant from the MOD to fund its work on in service deaths which at 28k is not really much money. An interested volunteer is much better value than a pressed civil servant & dare I say it possibly a dammed signt more interested.

Chris

#39 SPOF

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Posted 09 August 2010 - 08:47 PM

I agree with Glen that it's peculiar that this story has not been picked by any other Australian media.

Also a deafening silence from those that might be expected to know more.



Ian

Is it perhaps the newspaper story is based on unsubstantiated "facts" and rumours?

I spent a week around Fromelles in July and the number of new mass burial pits I heard about would cover the British, French and German casualties for all of 1916. Let's wait and hear from proper sources.


Glen

#40 DavidB

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Posted 09 August 2010 - 09:43 PM

Who knows whether a newspaper has printed from a genuine source or has made up a story to fill up column inches. It is a common laugh here that the only truth in a newspaper are the date line
and the price. :rolleyes:
Having said that has any one any figures on the MIA's from Bullecourt. That figure would give a good starting point as to how many men had an unknown grave from that battle
David

#41 Fedelmar

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Posted 09 August 2010 - 10:57 PM

If it is in fact a rumour as Glen suggest then it quite adequately explains the reason why Lambis chose to make no comment.

Bright Blessings
Sandra

#42 DavidB

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Posted 09 August 2010 - 11:30 PM

Sandra,
Or else Lambis is playing his cards close to his chest - and who could blame him.
Cheers David

#43 Fedelmar

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Posted 09 August 2010 - 11:54 PM

Having read the article I would say Lambis wanted to distance himself from its poor quality.

Bright Blessings
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#44 Anthony Staunton

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Posted 10 August 2010 - 01:40 AM

Before others get excited; I am not ignoring or insulting the efforts of everyone else involved in bring the Frommelles discoveries to light, far from it, but I am sufficiently cynical to wonder if once the Australian government got going that may have tipped the balance towards a bigger and more appropriate show? I believe there are several Australian initiatives, vistor centres etc on the Western Front being prepped up for the 100 yr commemerations?

Of course Australia had a great deal of influence and put up some of the money but it was all managed by OAWG and the British MOD. Australia was an important player but was not the organiser. While all credit is due to Lambis please do not forget Robin Corfield whose book inspired the interest of so many.

#45 Fedelmar

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Posted 10 August 2010 - 01:51 AM

Hello Anthony ... nice to see you here :)

Robin and Lambis are great mates and have worked hand in hand on the Fromelles lads.

Bright Blessings
Sandra

#46 Anthony Staunton

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Posted 10 August 2010 - 04:46 AM

Hello Anthony ... nice to see you here :)

Robin and Lambis are great mates and have worked hand in hand on the Fromelles lads.

Bright Blessings
Sandra



Thank you Sandra

Lambis is a mate of Robin Corfield but I like to give a plug for Robin's research.
I was delighted when Fromelles was republished in 2009 by Melbouren University Press.

Regards from rainy Canberra.

Anthony

#47 Fedelmar

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Posted 10 August 2010 - 04:48 AM

Anthony ... I think many people felt the same. I brought his book straight out of the box at my local bookstore.

SUNNY and WARM in WA at present :)

Bright Blessings
Sandra

#48 Herekawe

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Posted 12 August 2010 - 10:19 AM

Of course Australia had a great deal of influence and put up some of the money but it was all managed by OAWG and the British MOD. Australia was an important player but was not the organiser. While all credit is due to Lambis please do not forget Robin Corfield whose book inspired the interest of so many.


Hi

I give full credit to everyone involved in what has been a fantastic event, if I appear not to have it is only due to my own ignorance.

Best Wishes

James

#49 Kevin H

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Posted 12 August 2010 - 08:14 PM

It does seem that there is a bit of an ostrich mentality here. Do nothing and hope that it all quietens down. As you say if they don't get a grip there is a distinct problem of bodies being unofficially but deliberately unearthed ("privateer discoveries"), which has to be the worst possible state of affairs. Privateer exhumations are almost certainly illegal, but you can't stop "accidental" discoveries due to "wanting to put a drainage trench somewhere".

It seems that in getting a grip they (MOD/CWGC ?) need to consider:

  • Policy. How does the original purpose/policy work in today's world and how should it be applied (or possibly revised)
  • Do they in effect re-open their post WW1 clearance work (a massive undertaking - radar surveys of all battlegrounds?)
  • Do they only pick up accidental disturbances of remains (e.g. by weather and water or plough or developer's digger)?
  • Are there precedents set by Fromelles, or will each "grave pit" type burial be considered on a case by case basis?
  • What is the difference, for instance, between
  • placing a "believed to contain" or "a number of unknown soldiers of BEF/AIF" memorial over a grave pit.
  • exhuming and trying to identify those in grave pits
  • exhuming unknowns from trench graves in cemeteries that already have "believed to contain" or "known unto God" grave-stones?
Staffing exhumation or recovery teams - primarily on the Western Front
  • Skilled task to maximise opportunities for identification
  • Necessary to counter any growing privateer work
<LI>Staffing of the Historic Casework Group
  • Whilst we would probably want actual contact with relatives to be professionally handled, there are probably wider alternatives that just JCCC staff
  • Likewise researching the genealogy of the missing does not have to be done by JCCC
  • a "Big Society" opportunity surely?!
We may discuss such issues - but are they (MOD/CWGC etc.)?

David


Perhaps we do the MoD / CWGC officials a dis-service. I am sure their staff would love to undertake this work (at least the research elements) rather than some of the tasks they are asked to perform, as it would be rewarding, worthwhile and interesting. The real issue is that the British Govt in the case of the MoD and the 6 member Govts in case of CWGC need to fund such teams and hire experts in battlefield excavation if they mean what they say about honouring the fallen. Look at the Americans, who have a large team dedicated to finding & recovering their missing and compare that with the MoD resources detailed above.

KH

#50 Chris Noble

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Posted 14 August 2010 - 06:54 PM

Also remembering that there are numerous lads from the 62nd (West Riding) Division buried somewhere, or in the environs of Bullecourt.
Chris.