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Soldiers being Ploughed Back In


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#1 Let them RIP

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Posted 05 June 2011 - 02:39 AM


I know some of the forum members have read and commented on the article re some of the 10,800 Australian soldiers from WW1 being ploughed back into the fields in northern France by French farmers based on yours and Mike Bower’s experience in Northern France.
The Department of Veteran Affairs and the Department of Defense do not believe this is happening and believe it is all Media spin,

My intent is to encourage the Australian Government to invest in establishing an MIA Institute to ensure our soldiers are to rest in peace after being killed in such a horrific way.

I have emailed
Julia Gillard
Kevin Rudd
Warren Snowden
Tony Abbott
Andrew Wilkie
Bob Katter
Tony Windsor
Rob Oakshot
Bob Brown
Malcolm Turnbull (Responded)
Stewart Robert (responded)
DVA
Dick Smith

RSLs in each state (two have acknowledged but no action)

No response
Lest We Forget


My objective is for our young Diggers to finally rest in peace.
Some options are:
1. Create an incentive program that entices the French farmers to report any finds rather than ignore remains and plough them back.
2. Speed up the process so that the farmers are not penalised by interrupting work on their farms
3. Establish a facility in Northern France that can identify the remains by DNA and badges etc
4. Create a publicity program to notify all relatives of Diggers MIA from WW1 battles to register and contribute DNA samples for identification purposes.
5. Once the remains are identified bury them in an appropriate war cemetery with full military honors.

If it proves to be too difficult to achieve the first option then I propose a second option:

No Tillage Farming

This farming practice has been adopted all over the world including Australia where 22,239,000 acres are farmed this way.
In essence it would mean the French farmers would not be continually ploughing our Diggers up over and over again.
This would require an investment from the Government including equipment and training. It is also a very green method of farming.
The benefit to Australia would be knowing our ANZACs are finally resting in peace.
The French farmers also benefit by:


  • Reduced labor requirements
  • Time savings
  • Reduced machinery wear
  • Fuel savings
  • Improved long- term productivity
  • Improved surface water quality
  • Reduced soil erosion
  • Greater soil moisture retention
  • Improved water infiltration
  • Decreased soil compaction
  • Improved soil tilth
  • More wildlife
  • Reduced release of carbon gases
  • Reduced air pollution


Third Option

The Government leases farms along the trench lines of the major battlefields where the Australians fought.
The lease for a year would be very advantageous to the Farmers to ensure their cooperation.
Then a controlled and properly monitored dig could take place.

Fromelles was a wonderful example of what can be achieved and having attended the ceremony, I got a true sense of the importance of honoring our fallen soldiers who gave their lives for their country.
My Uncle Harry is one of the MIA from Fromelles, died at seventeen.

I have spoken to Ian McPherdran who wrote the article and he would be keen to write a follow up article .


Best Regards
Garry Willmott
0429 626640

Article
http://www.heraldsun...6-1226042562040





#2 auchonvillerssomme

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Posted 05 June 2011 - 06:40 AM

I don't believe it happens either so good luck on that one sport.

Mick

#3 truthergw

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Posted 05 June 2011 - 02:03 PM

You really hope to affect the way French farmers and developers approach their means of earning a livelihood ? Swanky script or not, this is a total waste of your time and forum bandwidth. King Canute was in with a far better chance of success.

May I add that I think you are taking a lot upon yourself when you set out to tell a country how it should honour those who fell defending that country. There are soldiers under the fields of France and Flanders from wars stretching back centuries. The French need no lessons on war casualties, especially on the Great War. Nor do they need prompting in expressing their gratitude. That was done fully and with great heart, many, many years ago when the scars were fresh and the tears yet unwiped. When people who knew the fallen were still alive. A hundred years later, I find it frankly creepy that there are those who will not let the dead return to the earth from which they came. I refer you to Matthew 8:22.



#4 keithfazzani

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Posted 05 June 2011 - 02:36 PM

Battlefields litter the land of the United Kingdom, indeed less than a mile from where I sit is the site of a Saxon Hill Fort and the farm which occupies it is still called Battle Farm. Soldiers lie beneath the ground across Europe and elsewhere. As far as I am aware there has been no concrete evidence that any remains from WW1 are treated with disrespect. To intimate that the economy of a country should be disrupted because there are human remains beneath the soil is bizarre. I also suspect that the French are fully aware of the most effective and economic manner with which to farm, after all they have been at it for thousands of years. I have always found French and Belgians respectful of the cemeteries and battlefields, we too should respect their right to farm their land and to feed themselves and their families, I seem to recollect that freedom was what the fighting was all about.

#5 Kate Wills

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Posted 05 June 2011 - 02:54 PM

Garry,

Have you tried reading your piece as a Frenchman making demands on Australia?

Also, you say

"Third Option

The Government leases farms along the trench lines of the major battlefields where the Australians fought."


I assume you are propopsing that the Australian government leases those farms?

If so, how? Will the current landowners be willing to participate in this scheme, even if the Australian government is willing to concede to your plans?

Remember, it is not just ANZACs who lie under the fields of France, but several other nationalities too, including Frenchmen.

#6 WilliamRev

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Posted 05 June 2011 - 03:10 PM

On a practical note: for several thousand years here in Northern Europe animal bones (from cows, sheep and pigs that have been eaten, plus horses donkeys and other animals that have died etc) have been spread, together with all sorts of other organic waste, on arable land. If you look carefully in any field in Britain, France or Belgium you will find fragments of bone, some recent, some ancient, some pre-historic, and you can't tell them apart.

Here in rural West Sussex I could take you to a field 300 yards from my house, and we will find unidentifiable little bits of bone all over the place - that's just how farmland is.

William

#7 Chris_Baker

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Posted 05 June 2011 - 03:18 PM

My reaction to your post, given that I have no evidence from my own direct observation or having heard from others that this goes on at all, is as follows.

Option 1. All very laudable but costly. Who do you think is going to pay for this? For how long?
Option 2. If it made economic sense, French farmers would have adopted this already.
Option 3. A total non-starter.

The aspect that sticks most in my craw is the exclusive focus on Anzacs.

#8 John Hartley

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Posted 05 June 2011 - 03:32 PM

Have to say that option 3 appears to be the daftest of the lot.

A one year lease? On all the land on which Australians fought? And, in that time, a "controlled and properly monitored" dig?

Surely you'd be looking at decades of work, even if there was the will and financial ability to undertake it.

#9 Paul Reed

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Posted 05 June 2011 - 04:04 PM

What happens when most of the dead you find are not Australian?

#10 hesmond

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Posted 05 June 2011 - 05:17 PM

And where do you draw the line ,every time have visited The Sand Bag Battery in the Crimea all sorts of remains of both English and Russians , and if keeping just France all the 100 years war stuff , the Malbrough battle fields do you say oh cut off date 1900 sorry you carry on as fertalizer ? Or do you carry on like the yanks ,and any grave remains are sacred no matter what time .where or when , befor DNA many of the bone fragments from aircraft crashes in Vietnam turned out to be quote "remains of ground dwelling animals found in SE Asia " and the doctor in charge was struck off ect , at Waterloo any remains are just placed in the ossary at La Calliou .



#11 auchonvillerssomme

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Posted 05 June 2011 - 05:32 PM

What you need is some proper discussion and input from the people who know the area well, French and British and other nationalities who have made the place home or the regular visitors, but not the usual suspects who spurt the same old guff to anyone who will listen.

#12 Piorun

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Posted 05 June 2011 - 05:41 PM

Garry: your sentiments are laudable but, with respect, the practical implementation of them is well-nigh impossible - if only because of the difficulty in getting the farmers (a notoriously determined secor of any society) of two nations to agree to intervention from foreigners - yet again! In all honesty, I think that French and Belgian farmers have had enough of foreighners taking over their homes and heritage. Thank you for having the courage and determination to post your views. A forum thrives on discussion and you'll certainly have contributed to that, mate :whistle: . Antony

#13 Kate Wills

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Posted 05 June 2011 - 07:12 PM

Garry,

I have read the article via the link, and the five comments upon the story, two of which are copied below:


TCK Posted at 7:27 AM April 21, 2011

Although I understand the farmers point of view, these brave diggers died trying to ensure the freedom of these same people and fields. Surely this is not the way to show gratitude and respect. Words cannot describe how saddened I am to hear this. Would they like it if Australia started digging up the French dead buried in Australia and desecrated their bodies? I am all for Australia doing more to speed up the process and banning French imports. I for one will be checking to ensure I do not purchase anything remotely associated with France. ********.


David Urquhart of Sydney, Australia Posted at 7:53 AM April 21, 2011

It was a long long time ago. We have shopping centres on top of aboriginal graves. I don't think the diggers would make a fuss. Dust to dust. Spend more energy on the kids who are suffering today.



The first comment includes my own theme of asking how it would be if the situation were reversed. My feelings go along with Mr Urquart's view.

#14 Tom Tulloch-Marshall

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Posted 05 June 2011 - 09:18 PM

... My intent is to encourage the Australian Government


Best of luck with that.

Please let us know if you ever decide to start bothering or in any other way trying to involve the British Government with this nonsense, as that will obviously involve having to make a more detailed response to these ... proposals.

(I think we’ve been here before :angry2: ).

Tom

#15 TonyE

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Posted 05 June 2011 - 09:28 PM

I am entirely with Tom, Keith et al on this nonsense.

We should respect all who fell there and were returned to the earth, British French, Australian, Canadian, New Zealander, South African and let us not forget, German. There is an unfortunate tendency in some quarters to focus on a particular group of combatants to the exclusion of all others. Leave them in peace.

Regards
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#16 Piorun

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Posted 05 June 2011 - 09:36 PM

Couldn't we use a word other than "nonsense" when we disagree with a fellow Pal? Surely we can muster arguments or responses that contribute more than such pejorative comments. Antony

#17 Tom Tulloch-Marshall

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Posted 05 June 2011 - 09:48 PM

Couldn't we use a word other than "nonsense" when we disagree with a fellow Pal? Surely we can muster arguments or responses that contribute more than such pejorative comments. Antony


Antony – In this case I think you are quite right – withdraw “nonsense” and substitute “complete and utter ***p”.

I have zero “respect” for this kind of drivel, and I’m not going to pretend that I have.

Tom

#18 Piorun

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Posted 05 June 2011 - 09:51 PM

Oh, dear, Tom. Did you really have to? You have so much else to offer. With respect, A.

#19 Alan Curragh

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Posted 05 June 2011 - 09:55 PM

Can I please remind contributors to this thread of the forum rule that states "You will respect the right of others to express their opinion"

Thanks

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#20 Ice tiger

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Posted 05 June 2011 - 10:07 PM

Can I please remind contributors to this thread of the forum rule that states "You will respect the right of others to express their opinion"

Thanks

Alan


Alan

I respect his right to post such drivell, well intentioned as it may be. I just hope he respects the right of others, including me, to expose it for the utter nonsence it is.

I have to say though; one hell of a first (& possibly last) post!

Andy

#21 Tom Tulloch-Marshall

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Posted 05 June 2011 - 10:15 PM

I am perfectly happy for anybody to claim that the moon is made of cheese. I’m not going to agree with it though; nor stand by whilst they propose such “nonsense”.

Tom

#22 David Faulder

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Posted 05 June 2011 - 10:47 PM

Garry,

Welcome to the forum - and to one of the probably intractable issues!

>><<
My objective is for our young Diggers to finally rest in peace.
Some options are:
1. Create an incentive program that entices the French farmers to report any finds rather than ignore remains and plough them back.
2. Speed up the process so that the farmers are not penalised by interrupting work on their farms
3. Establish a facility in Northern France that can identify the remains by DNA and badges etc
4. Create a publicity program to notify all relatives of Diggers MIA from WW1 battles to register and contribute DNA samples for identification purposes.
5. Once the remains are identified bury them in an appropriate war cemetery with full military honors.
>><<


Others have said that we have been over this before (see threads in the sub-forum "Recovering the Fallen"). I am one who believes that some remains must get ploughed back in - the shear numbers point to it happening. I also have a grandfather whose remains in all likelihood are lying in pieces scattered (by shell fire) across a few fields in Belgium - but if I heard of identifiable substantial remains in those fields being "ploughed back", I would be disturbed.

However, there remain a number of uncomfortable questions that have to be determined if we want to see a change in the situation.

  • At what stage do you say you have "a set of remains"? Many of the unrecovered will either have been blown to pieces by shellfire or have become broken up since the conflict by the passage of time (and possible ploughing etc.). Is a finger bone sufficient or must you find a certain number of major bones? Creating an incentive programme may well make this worse. As with any incentive programme (anywhere) it is worth asking, "how can I subvert this programme to my own ends?"; in this case splitting bodies and making them subject to separate reports over a period of time would maximise your "take".
  • There is a balance between speed of recovery (to minimise distruption to the landowner/user) and diligence of recovery (to maximise chances of a full recovery and subsequent identification). Is reburial of another "unknown" a price worth paying to "speed the process up" and hence potentially reduce incidents of ploughing in? How do you get a concensus on this balance?
  • I am not sure that establishing a facility in Northern France (beyond the existing CWGC mortuary) is yet the best way to go about this exercise; it requires the various nations' MODs to agree to pool resources and to determine what level of resource is required for a possibly very variable demand. Would Australia seriously consider going it alone with such a facility? I don't think that it will offer sufficient employment to the French to impact on attitudes.
  • DNA (and other scientific) approaches to identification may be technically possible in some cases, but you have to match against specific living relatives. It is recognised that it is not possible to get a complete "database" of suitable relatives of the missing, and therefore we have to take each discovery on a case by case basis. The uncomfortable question is then how short should the "short-list" be before it is agreed to undertake such an exercise? With the 15 remains at Beaucamps-Ligny the short list is about 60 possible names - a 1 in 4 chance seems like worthwhile odds to me, but again gaining consensus is an issue. I certainly think it is strange that the next of kin and DNA relevant relatives of the missing are not able to register (their contact details - not their DNA) somewhere (MODs or CWGC?) as this could speed up initial work on each case. You don't need to take DNA samples until you are trying to do a specific match.
  • On the Western Front recovered remains (identified or not) are already given proper burial. This seems to work well although I suspect that with unknowns the relevant MODs miss a few opportunities in terms of building local relationships by burying them very quietly.
David

#23 KevinBattle

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Posted 05 June 2011 - 11:17 PM

I just can't reconcile anyone who chooses his forum tag as "Let them RIP" then launches into a complete argument to have them dug up and tested for DNA.....
As for the focus solely on Australian dead, were there no other soldiers involved?
It must have taken a lot of time and effort to marshal his thoughts, but ignore the fact that others have had nearly 100 years to try and find an answer....
We do grumble about how our respective governments seem slow to act whenever remains are found, but I think it a "dis service" to all parties (including the dead) to assume that remains are not treated with some respect. It may not be perfect, but then neither is this world........
Still, it's one heck of a way to make your entrance here....

#24 Piorun

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Posted 06 June 2011 - 12:32 AM

Well, Garry, you certainly have "made an entrance", as David puts it and you have some strong responses - which, while some of their language is probably contrary to Forum rules, may be understandable. However, Kate, WilliamRev, Paul, and hesmond all suggest the impracticality of some of your ideas. Chris raises a fair point; it's not just Diggers. And David Faulder reminds me that that like him, I have a personal interest in who lies under the soil - in my case, of Flanders. Yes, there are first-hand accounts posted by Members of this Forum as to the "ploughing under" or "keeping under" of remains but, as mentioned above, if we go back far enough in England, or even Australia, I'm sure that there are remains to be found from conflicts past. It's an emotive issue for sure but one that must be approached with a wide sense of perspective. All the Diggers are honoured, no matter where rest their bones. Be assured of that. Their souls will rest in peace. Cheers, mate. Antony

#25 Let them RIP

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Posted 06 June 2011 - 12:42 AM

It seems I have stirred up a hornets nest.
My intention is to discover if this project is achievable and whether there is anybody in the forum who can offer some positive suggestions.
Of course it was always my intention to ensure soldiers from all the countries involved in this war are treated equally. One Government at a time is more than enough to try and solicit support.