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gilles

new bodies have been found ....Beaucamp ligny

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PBI

Can we get back to the Original Topic please !.

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SteveMarsdin

Good afternoon All,

Another photo from the widespread French media coverage.

4143246277_9d4d34d865_o.jpg

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MelPack

I have to say that I have found a number of contributions to this thread more than a little peculiar.

My position on this matter is that the 15 Yorks & Lancs soldiers are entitled to parity of treatment with the 250 Australian and British soldiers who have been recovered at Fromelles.

I also recognise that but for Australian pressure and initiative, there would have been no attempt at individual identification based upon DNA testing. I further recognise that the conduct of many of the functionaries from the CWGC and MoD involved in the Fromelles project has fallen well short of the standards that should be expected.

I suspect (but I would be absolutelty delighted to be proven wrong) that the MoD and CWGC's preferred option would be to have these 15 soldiers interred without any usage of DNA as a possible source/method for identification.

Due to the fact that I am possessed of such irrational suspicions, I have already established the genealogy for the 32 missing soldiers and have contacted a number of the men's direct relatives. I am encouraging the relatives to engage in suitable lobbying to ensure that the MoD/CWGC reach the right decision.

Mel

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Seadog

What an excellent piece of work Mel, congratulations. I and no doubt many others await the outcome of your research with great interest. I believe that since the discoveries at Fromelles we have entered a new and important era in regard to the attempted identification of the newly discovered. Let us hope that the authorities will both understand and embrace the technology with a new-found openness and transparency.

Regards

Norman

PS Please try and post the photo again Steve (Post 77)

The Pity of War - A Photo Gallery

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SteveMarsdin

Good evening All,

Sorry about the technical hitch, thanks for putting me right Norman

The (long) link below should get you to the French "Pages 14-18" site thread with various media links:

http://pages14-18.mesdiscussions.net/forum...amp;searchall=1

Please note: it is Beaucamps Ligny.

Norman:

4144833414_12580d232d_o.jpg

PS Well Done Mel !

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ianw
Due to the fact that I am possessed of such irrational suspicions, I have already established the genealogy for the 32 missing soldiers and have contacted a number of the men's direct relatives. I am encouraging the relatives to engage in suitable lobbying to ensure that the MoD/CWGC reach the right decision.

Well done, Mel.

I must declare that in essence I share your views and certainly hope that the relatives will be in contact withh the CWGC to press for a sensible attempt at IDs. I am sure that the good people at the CWGC will welcome your input!

But seriously, what is needed here is a clear statement from the CWGC that they will make reasonable efforts to obtain IDs where possible.

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JimSmithson

Brilliant work Mel! :thumbsup:

Let's only hope that the well meaning but rather amateur efforts seen in the photograph do not hinder their efforts.

Jim

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Seadog

Ian your last sentence hits the nail on the head. I believe that a reason for the total lack of any information from the CWGC or the MOD could be twofold;

1.0

I understand that the current position of the CWGC is that their responsibilities do not extend to either the excavation or recovery of remains or indeed any attempt at identification of those remains. This would be an understandable position pre-Fromelles but now this stance requires serious reappraisal following both the professional excavation undertaken and the use of DNA matching technology.

2.0

In the post-Fromelles situation the need for a more professional approach to the recovery of newly found remains is of paramount importance if the use of DNA matching is to be used to identify the remains, I of course appreciate that this will not be possible in many cases.

Given the above there does seem to be an urgent need for a meeting of the responsible authorities in order that these points can be discussed with the ultimate objective of the formulation of a joined-up plan for the treatment of those remains which will most certainly be found in the future. Together with an open and clear policy regarding the public notification of the complete function from discovery, retrieval and attempts at identification of the missing.

Having decided on the approach to the Fromelles remains the authorities can have no excuse as to why the rest of the found are not treated in a similar fashion. I await some comment from the CWGC as soon as possible for at the present their reputation is put at risk by their silence.

Regards

Norman

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keithmroberts

I feel a letter to the Minister coming on. MP's representing the recruiting area of the Yorks and Lancs should be feeling particularly keen to respond to their constituents in the last six months of a parliament and might be worth approaching.

Keith

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Seadog

Go for it Keith!!!

Norman

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dfaulder
>><<I understand that the current position of the CWGC is that their responsibilities do not extend to either the excavation or recovery of remains or indeed any attempt at identification of those remains. This would be an understandable position pre-Fromelles but now this stance requires serious reappraisal following both the professional excavation undertaken and the use of DNA matching technology.

In the post-Fromelles situation the need for a more professional approach to the recovery of newly found remains is of paramount importance if the use of DNA matching is to be used to identify the remains, I of course appreciate that this will not be possible in many cases.

Given the above there does seem to be an urgent need for a meeting of the responsible authorities in order that these points can be discussed with the ultimate objective of the formulation of a joined-up plan for the treatment of those remains which will most certainly be found in the future. Together with an open and clear policy regarding the public notification of the complete function from discovery, retrieval and attempts at identification of the missing.

>><<

Regards

Norman

I partly agree with you:

  1. CWGC do not seem to see their responsibility extending much beyond maintaining cemeteries and memorials (and given the cost implications would be reluctant to extend their responsibilities); they may well be technically right.
  2. The MOD I would have thought would have a responsibility, once someone (who?) has identified remains as being a British Serviceman (and someone who died whilst in their service). However I do not think they share my view. When my father (whose father is one of the WWI Y&L missing) died, I somewhat naively thought that since I was now the Next of Kin I ought to register with someone just in case a body was identified and they wanted to trace next of kin. The Army did not want to know and the MOD did not want to know.
  3. So, it seems (to me) that if a body (or significant body parts) is/are found,
    1. the local (e.g. French, Belgian etc.) police are interested until they establish that no crime has been committed (presumably on the basis that it was a long time ago),
    2. then if it is believed by them (how?) to be a Empire/Commonwealth serviceman's remains they tell the CWGC,
      • Do the local police also tell the land owner that he can get on with clearing?
      • Does a local undertaker collect the remains?
    3. The CWGC then tell the relevant country's MOD (on what basis - what the local police said?) who arrange for burial (usually in the most appropriate CWGC cemetery)
    4. Someone (who?) will take a look at anything found with the remains to see if an identification is possible.
  4. Others may be able to refine/amend/correct the description of the process, but as a process it seems deficient as there are too many unrelated players and responsibilities do not seem to be well defined. I will probably be wrong to some degree - but I do get the feeling that the process is not well integrated.
I fear then that calling for the "responsible" authorities to meet will not necessarily bring about a better process. Keith's thought of writing to MPs may be a good idea (if they are in a marginal and expecting an election in the near future they may be interested). I think also the RBL and WFA might campaign on the issue. Likewise there needs to be campaigning in the other CWGC-contributing countries.

I suspect that it will be necessary for some organisation to take on the responsibility for "recovery and identification" and this will mean having some form of person/squad "on call", as it is unacceptable to the local population that there is delay in recovery after the local police say that it is not a crime scene. This (and the attempted DNA testing) will cost - and that is probably the source of the problem. Unless politicians know that there is demand, they will not allocate funds - hence the need for a campaign.

David

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keithmroberts

I think David has brought it together. My recollection of the information on the CWGC sub-site for Fromelles is that it was the MOD who had to accept the responsibility for the recovery and the work on identification.

Keith

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ianw

I can't see how the CWGC can duck their responsibility given that they are the organisation with local offices and personnel based where the remains will be found.

I think this Forum has a duty to these men. We have the expertise here and we care. We also have some high profile members who might give credibility to any representations.

It seesm from this threat that individual forum members are doing their best to help. Is there a case for doing something collectively with the Forum's name attached to it? Perhaps the trustees could comment.

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dfaulder
I can't see how the CWGC can duck their responsibility given that they are the organisation with local offices and personnel based where the remains will be found.

I think this Forum has a duty to these men. We have the expertise here and we care. We also have some high profile members who might give credibility to any representations.

It seems from this threat that individual forum members are doing their best to help. Is there a case for doing something collectively with the Forum's name attached to it? Perhaps the trustees could comment.

Yes, but.

The CWGC is an unusual multi-national organisation set up in days before DNA testing etc and is undoubtedly legally and financially restricted in what it can do - even if how much they are restricted is not widely known or understood. The fact that they have local offices based where the remains are found might contribute to them being the logical organisation to agree to take on additional responsibilities; but being local does not mean that it is automatically "the organisation" to take responsibility. (I believe both the RBL and the Church of England are also "locally based" - as may be HM's Consular Service).

I am not sure how "this Forum" can have a duty - lacking any collective identity beyond the trustees, and trying to attach the Forum's name to any endeavour could be controversial. If you want an organisation to campaign, it needs to be "an organisation" and one to which you can choose to subscribe (because that helps create a mandate). That is why I suggested in an earlier post that the RBL and WFA (both membership organisations) might be suitable campaigning organisations. They may also have had recent relevant experience in campaigning in respect of the Fromelles remains. WFA is effectively trans-national and the RBL has sister organisations in other countries (which is important given the multinational aspect of this issue). Both are able to formulate strategies and (within their own constitutions) ask for a mandate from their memberships; the Forum trustees can only "put 'it' to a poll".

I believe that RBL and WFA members use this Forum.

David

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Seadog

Time I think for some positive action with regard to our concerns. The first step in my opinion should be an email to the CWGC which in my case will ask these questions:

1.0 Why did the notification of the interments on the web site which took place on the 14th Oct 2009 exclude the timing of the burials and a request that this will not happen in the future, plus a request that such announcements are archived for future reference and made available on the web site

2.0 Why is there no mention on the website whatsoever of the recent discovery of the 15 sets of remains in Beaucamps Ligny or even a press release. This has been widely reported in the European media.

3.0 What is the intention with regard to the attempted identification of the remains as (2) above? Will DNA evidence be utilised as is being done with the Fromelles excavations.

Simple questions. It will be interesting to see if I get a reply at all and if so what that reply will be. Any such response will of course be posted here.

Mail sent today.

Norman

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ianw

David,

Yes, you make a good argument above. The CWGC are perhaps constrained in what they can do and the MOD may be the best place to apply pressure given that it has continual detailed parliamentary scrutiny. Sometimes the lack of interest by the authorities in our war dead can be quite startling - e.g the MOD has been reluctant to assist in recovering the remains of fighter pilots - despite Winston's famous acknowledgement of the collective debt of us "Many" to "The Few".

When I say that we have a duty to the fallen, I am not suggesting a formal duty but rather a moral one - and indeed it is clear that a number of Forum members are pursuing their own personal programmes to fulfill that duty as they see fit. I take your point about the strcuture of a campaigning organisation but it seems to me that this Forum is such a great provider of information with its worldwide network of members and it is ideally placed to react swiftly to matters that concern us. The RBL could well be the best conduit for these sorts of concerns.

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MelPack

Norman

I suspect that you are wasting your time writing to the CWGC for the simple reason that you will only elicit the standard automoton response that our remit is blah, blah , blah.

This is precisely the approach that the CWGC has adopted in respect of the Fromelles project in spite of the fact that management was delegated to it by the the Australian and British governments.

The most effective route for lobbying is by writing to your MP and asking for comment from Kevan Jones, the Minister for Veterans, - that way you are guaranteed to receive at least a response. It is precisely this route that I am encouraging the relatives of the Yorks and Lancs men to take.

Mel

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dfaulder
>><<

This is precisely the approach that the CWGC has adopted in respect of the Fromelles project in spite of the fact that management was delegated to it by the the Australian and British governments.

>><<

Am I right in believing that this delegation was specific and probably separately funded? If so that would tend to reinforce CWGC's view that this sort of thing is not part of its normal remit.

Hence campaign has to be not "beating up CWGC", but to get governments to permanently fund and delegate the recovery and identification of their servicemen (include use of modern techniques) to someone.

Writing to MPs would certainly seem to be a good place to start.

David

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MelPack

French news report on Youtube:

and interview with the mayor:

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Seadog

Mel I understand your comments but because my mail also included a request in relation to the information supplied on their web site I thought that it would be only proper to contact the CWGC first. Also of course if a reply is forthcoming it may help with understanding their position on the other matters. If necessary I will of course follow up these points with my local MP who has helped in the recent past with the situation regarding the Debt of Honour Database search changes.

Regards

Norman

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Seadog

I have receoived a detailed response to my queries regarding the interments which took place on the 14th Oct 2009. This is the full email from the CWGC France office, please note the bold text (Mine). I have thanked the French office for this fulsome reply. Also included were photos taken at the time and these appear in the next post(s).

Norman

Dear

Thank you for your e-mail dated 26/11/2009 regarding the interments of unknown British Soldiers on the 14th October 2009. I can confirm you, that two sets of remains were buried at Flatiron Copse Cemetery , Mametz during a service attended by Captain Stonor, Military Attaché from the British Embassy. The remains were found in April 2008 near Contalmaison.

Another Unknown Soldier is now resting at Méaulte Citadel New Military Cemetery . The remains were found in October 2006, near Méaulte. Six Unknown British Soldiers have been buried at Gordon Dump Cemetery .

The place of burials is traditionally determined by the location where the remains have been found (the closest cemetery).Please be informed that our Exhumation Officer made all the appropriate investigation to try to identify these sets of remains. No specific regiment or identity could have been defined. The artifacts found with the sets of remains were unfortunately not enough eloquent to help him on his research: British army buttons, pen knife, gas masks, etc.

The discoveries of remains currently happen during farming activities or on construction sites.

I hope this information will help you and reassure you regarding the care the CWGC take to honour the memory of all the members of the Commonwealth Forces who died during the First or the Second World War.

Yours sincerely,

Nelly POIGNONNEC

Communication & Public

Relation Supervisor

Commonwealth War

Graves Commission

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Seadog

The Interment of the remains of Six Unknown British Soldiers at Gordon Dump War Cemetery on the 14th Oct 2009.

MAY THEY REST FOREVER IN PEACE

4146455801_5127f671a2.jpg

Photo courtesy of the CWGC

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Seadog

The interment of the remains of Two Unknown British Soldiers at Flatiron Copse War Cemetery on the 14th Oct 2009

MAY THEY REST FOREVER IN PEACE

4146455811_80975727b5.jpg

Photo courtesy of the CWGC

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Seadog

The interment of One Unknown British Soldier at Méaulte Citadel New Military Cemetery on the 14th Oct 2009.

MAY HE REST FOREVER IN PEACE

4146455821_8b0745fd69.jpg

Photo courtesy of the CWGC

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Seadog

I do not wish to be ungracious here but reading the mail from CWGC France (Post 97) you cannot but notice that there is no information regarding the discovery of the Six sets of remains at Contalmaison, It seems to me remarkable that no ID even to a regiment was found with these multiple remains, perhaps other members would care to comment.

Norman

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