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Diggers Reburied to Avoid Red Tape


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#1 Markess

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Posted 23 April 2011 - 08:55 AM

The following article appeared in The Daily Telegraph, a popular newpaper in New South Wales, Australia. The journalist, Ian McPhedran, is News Limited's National Defence Reporter.
Starts:
THE remains of Australian war dead are being uncovered by farmers in France and Belgium and immediately reburied to avoid red tape and delays - and there is nothing authorities can do about it.
The fields of Flanders and the Somme are littered with the remains of more than 10,800 Diggers from five Divisions of the First Australian Imperial Force, still listed as Missing in Action from the carnage of the Western Front from 1916 to 1918.
More than 46,000 of the 300,000 Australians who served were killed in pitched battles from Passchendaele in Belgium to Rheims in France.
Historian Charles Bean recorded the scene at the Battle of Pozieres on the Somme in 1916: "The whole area was flayed and pounded into a veritable sea of shell craters.
"The men are simply turned in there as into some ghastly great mincing machine."
Many were blown to pieces so the remains are often just small fragments of bone that might include nearby identifying items such as belt buckles or badges.
If a farmer reports a find, his work can be disrupted for weeks as the site is surveyed and remains removed.
Australian author Paul Daley witnessed the discovery of Australian remains by an excavator near Mouquet Farm on a research trip this year.
His guide told him he had found at least 15 bodies and that remains were often ploughed back into the soil.
He said Australia should do more to establish links with farmers and guides so bodies were retrieved, not reburied.
Defence said: "There is no feasible way to estimate if people are not reporting their discovery to the appropriate authorities in France."

#2 David Faulder

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Posted 23 April 2011 - 11:19 AM

Original Links for the story - which appears to have been syndicated (with slight variations - not much comment so far)
Daily Telegraph (au)
Perth Now / Sunday Times
Adelaide Advertiser / Sunday Mail
Herald Sun

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#3 seadog

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Posted 23 April 2011 - 12:43 PM

Quote:
His guide told him he had found at least 15 bodies and that remains were often ploughed back into the soil.
He said Australia should do more to establish links with farmers and guides so bodies were retrieved, not reburied


Be nice to know who the "guide" was and if this was referring to just Australian remains..

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#4 Keith Roberts

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Posted 23 April 2011 - 12:49 PM

Is this not just a reworking of the story of the chap recovered by Dominique Zanardi that was discussed a short time back?

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#5 seadog

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Posted 23 April 2011 - 01:46 PM

I cannot recall that story mentioning the figure of 15 soldiers being found by the guide. If this is correct it would be good to know under what circumstances such a number of remains or partial remains were found and exactly what happened to them.

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#6 green_acorn

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Posted 23 April 2011 - 02:03 PM

David those papers are all owned by Murdoch's NewsCorps, so will be repeated across Australia.


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#7 Steven Broomfield

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Posted 23 April 2011 - 02:45 PM

We infer from this, presumably, that this doesn't happen to French, British, German, Portugese, Indian, Irish, South African, New Zealand, American or any other remains which happen to be lying about?

#8 truthergw

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Posted 23 April 2011 - 03:33 PM

I can't imagine that part of the Murdoch empire would simply repeat a story without carefully checking the facts. Even one where the facts are a bit woolly and half a world away.Would they? Mmmm... I think I will put this CAUSE FOR OUTRAGE in the pending tray for a bit.

#9 Keith Roberts

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Posted 23 April 2011 - 03:52 PM

See the beginning of this thread


http://1914-1918.inv...howtopic=158590

it was probably a quiet news day in Oz


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#10 auchonvillerssomme

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Posted 23 April 2011 - 04:00 PM

Thats a strange coincidence, out of the blue I recieved a letter from my MP on Thursday saying that he had re-written to the MOD about the recovery and disposal of remains because they hadn't responded to his previous questions.

#11 Blackblue

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Posted 24 April 2011 - 01:06 AM

Originated with Paul Daley.....same journo who was involved in the original 'recovery' story with Dominique Zanardi.

Would be a shame if this is as far as this story goes....as this state of affairs requires wider publicity.

Has anyone heard more of the original story and whether ID process is progressing?

Rgds

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#12 auchonvillerssomme

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Posted 24 April 2011 - 09:02 AM

There is just so much rubbish spoken and written about the area, often fed by some of the British and French locals amd regular visitors that those living to far from the place to visit must sit in perpetual anger and frustration.

#13 Markess

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Posted 24 April 2011 - 10:07 AM

Every year, just before Anzac Day, stories appear in Australian newspapers relating to the endeavours of the Diggers. Ever now and again, a degree of sensationalism will be included and of course will hit a raw nerve in many cases. Past years we have seen reports on the road works at Gallipoli and the recklessness in the handling of remains uncovered (can a bulldozer be anything but reckless?). Now this year we see the reinvigoration of the Western Front stories.

While it may well be all part of the media's game to sensationalise things in order to sell newspapers, it does highlight the tragedy of the missing and the underlying hurt that still exists.

How do we fix this? Everyone has an opinion but I fear consensus is a long way off.

#14 David Faulder

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Posted 24 April 2011 - 11:03 AM

Does the Australian Parliament follow the UK tradition of Parliamentary Questions?

I sometimes dispair of UK politics, but a short pointed question on the floor of the House of Commons can sometimes spur the executive to actually examine an issue and report back on (1) whether it is an issue (e.g.is the story recycled sensationalism, or is there more than a grain of truth in it?) and (2) what it intends to do about it.

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#15 towisuk

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Posted 24 April 2011 - 11:22 AM

Thats a strange coincidence, out of the blue I recieved a letter from my MP on Thursday saying that he had re-written to the MOD about the recovery and disposal of remains because they hadn't responded to his previous questions.


Following my trip to Flanders in February I too contacted my local MP about the lack of remains found in a major Battlefield. He refered my enquiries to the MOD, as yet we have had no reply. In a previous enquiry through him to the CWGC, he received a prompt reply which was forwarded on to me.
I can therefor only surmise the problem of communication lies with the MOD, they are tardy, incompetent, or arrogant, to say the least.....
regards
Tom

#16 Markess

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Posted 24 April 2011 - 11:26 AM

Does the Australian Parliament follow the UK tradition of Parliamentary Questions?


It certainly does David. Our pollies tapdance around the issues just as well as yours. Time to push something onto my local member so he can put it to the Minister for Defence.

#17 Blackblue

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Posted 24 April 2011 - 11:30 AM

And on this 96th Anzac Day....

Lest We Forget the men and women from both sides who fought and died there...

Rgds

Tim D
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#18 Steven Broomfield

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Posted 24 April 2011 - 04:19 PM

Every time these stories break we are told that our MPs ought to "do something", but I'm at a loss to think what.

Imagine you're a British or Australian MP. Your constituent comes along and informs you that French farmers are digging up remains of men killed 90 years ago and quickly reburying them to avoid the time, paperwork, fuss and bother and expense, I suspect, caused by delays to work schedules and so on). What do you do - you utter sympathetic words and promise to look into it. What can you do - nothing.

You're a French deputy, representing a large rural constituency in northern France. A British or Austrlaian government official comes along and makes you aware of the problem. You mutter platitudes, perhaps shrug in a Gallic fashion, but the you consider this: your job depends on the votes of a set of farmers, who want to press on and make a living. As we know from the various instances of incinerated British sheep, French farmers are not renowned for their open-minded, adaptable to circumstances outlook on life.

Suggesting to them that they stop, call the Gendarmes, wait for several days while the site is excavated and all evidence collected, then have a potter to see what else is there and then - only then - may you proceed is going to go down like a pastis with no Pernod.

This might sound terribly negative, but in reality your MP, the CWGC, the MOD, the Ministry of Veterans' Affairs and all the king's horses are not going to affect Monsieur Dupont in his desire to earn a living.

Sorry, but that's how I see it.

#19 towisuk

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Posted 24 April 2011 - 04:55 PM

Every time these stories break we are told that our MPs ought to "do something", but I'm at a loss to think what.

Imagine you're a British or Australian MP. Your constituent comes along and informs you that French farmers are digging up remains of men killed 90 years ago and quickly reburying them to avoid the time, paperwork, fuss and bother and expense, I suspect, caused by delays to work schedules and so on). What do you do - you utter sympathetic words and promise to look into it. What can you do - nothing.

You're a French deputy, representing a large rural constituency in northern France. A British or Austrlaian government official comes along and makes you aware of the problem. You mutter platitudes, perhaps shrug in a Gallic fashion, but the you consider this: your job depends on the votes of a set of farmers, who want to press on and make a living. As we know from the various instances of incinerated British sheep, French farmers are not renowned for their open-minded, adaptable to circumstances outlook on life.

Suggesting to them that they stop, call the Gendarmes, wait for several days while the site is excavated and all evidence collected, then have a potter to see what else is there and then - only then - may you proceed is going to go down like a pastis with no Pernod.

This might sound terribly negative, but in reality your MP, the CWGC, the MOD, the Ministry of Veterans' Affairs and all the king's horses are not going to affect Monsieur Dupont in his desire to earn a living.

Sorry, but that's how I see it.



Yes...it's easier to do nothing..! what a defeatist attitude, a good job the lads in 14-18 had a different one!!!!
It's no wonder this country's in a mess with negative attitudes like that........

Tom

#20 David Faulder

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Posted 24 April 2011 - 05:18 PM

More general discussion in reply to Steve, on a new thread - Alternatives to "Ploughing in"

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#21 59165

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Posted 24 April 2011 - 05:55 PM

Yes...it's easier to do nothing..! what a defeatist attitude, a good job the lads in 14-18 had a different one!!!!
It's no wonder this country's in a mess with negative attitudes like that........

Tom



Not defeatist at all,Tom.Steve's spoken the truth as to what will happen if any 'pressure' was put on French farmers.
The worst that could happen is that the Frogs make a law forcing finders to report even the smallest toe on their turf.
You will see a sharp decline in body finds very,very quickly.
Dave.

#22 towisuk

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Posted 24 April 2011 - 07:11 PM

Not defeatist at all,Tom.Steve's spoken the truth as to what will happen if any 'pressure' was put on French farmers.
The worst that could happen is that the Frogs make a law forcing finders to report even the smallest toe on their turf.
You will see a sharp decline in body finds very,very quickly.
Dave.

Of course it's defeatist, the easy way out is always to shrug and say what can we do?
If it's wrong it's wrong...

I am trying to go one route, if nothing comes of that I will try another, the more that join in the more chance there is that that we can get something done.
Look what the boys achieved at the Hohenzollern redoubt, it was being used for landfill, but some determined people with real b*lls did something, result..the landfill was stopped.
regards
Tom

#23 59165

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Posted 24 April 2011 - 08:08 PM

Perhaps more would join in if you happened to mention what your planned routes are.
As to the redoubt / landfill.It was used as a landfill many years ago.Just read the later version of Coppards MG to Cambrai.Anyway.You can't compare the two as yours involves changeing how foreigners think & work & live.You don't mention the Happy Valley landfill.
No amount of MP's letters will change this &,as stated,any laws passed by the French will have a detrimental effect to future recoveries.
Good luck

#24 Tom Tulloch-Marshall

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Posted 24 April 2011 - 09:21 PM

... This might sound terribly negative, but in reality your MP, the CWGC, the MOD, the Ministry of Veterans' Affairs and all the king's horses are not going to affect Monsieur Dupont in his desire to earn a living.


Exactly, and its all been said before - its blindingly obvious, except to the armchair generals.

Same old, same old.

Tom

#25 Steven Broomfield

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Posted 25 April 2011 - 09:10 AM

Yes...it's easier to do nothing..! what a defeatist attitude, a good job the lads in 14-18 had a different one!!!!
It's no wonder this country's in a mess with negative attitudes like that........

Tom

Thanks for the considered response.