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velo350

Fromelles16: July 19th events

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ianw

All our eyes will be on Fromelles this week though it looks like casual visits will not be much welcomed.

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PDW

Ian

Indeed it will stir up more than many young mens bones. Keep an eye on the Australian newspapers in the next few days.

Anyone heard from Lambis in the last week ?

Peter

All our eyes will be on Fromelles this week though it looks like casual visits will not be much welcomed.

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auchonvillerssomme

Maybe they will make a little viewing area and have someone about to explain whats going on, progress etc.

Mick

Oops sorry, I just drifted into a fantasy world.

Mick

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JimSmithson

This group might get information as it happens, maybe even updates.

http://www.fromellesdiscussiongroup.com/index.php

Or maybe I'm just joining Mick in Middle Earth.

Jim

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Auimfo

An interesting article this morning from Melbourne's 'Age Newspaper'. According to this report, the head of the Australian Army History Unit makes the surprising announcement that the experts no longer believe the grave contains British soldiers. The plot thickens......

I'll send an email to Lambis and see if I can find out some more (hopefully the email address for contact will find it's way to him)

Cheers,

Tim L.

RAIN is forecast in Pheasant's Wood, Fromelles, this morning — the kind that creates cloying mud, soaks woollen uniforms and that made the lives of hundreds of thousands of soldiers a misery during World War I.

But a little water to soften the earth will be welcomed by the team of Scottish and Australian archaeologists who will begin digging deep inside this wooded copse in the battlefields of northern France to see, once and for all, whether the decade-long obsession of Victorian school teacher Lambis Englezos is more than a hunch.

Army historian Roger Lee told The Age yesterday that eight pits — not just one as previously believed — have been found in the area, and are now thought to contain the remains of at least 160 Australian soldiers, but probably no British remains at all. Until now, it was widely believed that this one mass grave, forgotten during the post-war clean-up led by the Germans, contained several hundred bodies, the majority British.

"We think there are eight pits and Australians are buried in at least five and maybe even six … we won't know until we find the remains … and under the agreements we have with the French and the Commonwealth graves commission, we cannot remove remains," Mr Lee said.

"But we now think it is quite likely that there are no British there at all … the story has always been 160 Australians, some 200 to 300 British and now we don't believe there are any. But we do not know who the others are … it really is a kind of mystery story and we won't know till we get in there."

And so at 9.30am, the team of archaeologists and historians armed with shovels and sieves, guided by high-tech equipment, will turn the first sod in a much-anticipated exercise to find some of the souls lost during one of the most ferocious battles to envelop Australian troops.

An estimated 5533 diggers were killed, wounded or taken prisoner on that night of July 19-20, 1916 — one of the worst 24-hour periods for Australians at war.

Of the 1719 Australian diggers who died at the hands of German forces, the bodies of about 170 were never found.

Those soldiers have obsessed Mr Englezos, who embarked on a sleuthing mission eight years ago and slowly gathered evidence to persuade Australian defence historians to mount a case for the search.

Roger Lee was one of the sceptics but has been convinced that the soldiers were undisturbed for nine decades since German troops buried the remains in mass graves.

"(Mr Englezos) found evidence buried behind Pheasant's Wood … yes, the panel was sceptical and I admit I was too. We couldn't believe that they could miss a mass grave in the recovery after the war," he said.

"So we asked Glasgow University to do a survey last May, and they came back and said the evidence was clear. There are men buried there and the scatter patterns and other evidence show that there has been no disturbance."

This week, finally, Australia will know.

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ianw

Not sure how they can have made that comment about the likelihood that no British remains are present - but we await developments with interest.

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michel knockaert

I was at Fromelles today at the lunch time, it is forbidden to approach the site.

I was able to speak with a member of the University of Glasgow who was outside the site to join his truck in the garage of the church.

He said they were working slowly with many cautions, it was very impressive to be there, so close.

Michel

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ianw

By crikey, they are so sensitive about this site. Interesting to know who is so keen to establish this exclusion zone. Most peculiar.

Someone whose opinion I respect has suggested that there may be further pits in the general vicinity of Fromelles - perhaps there are local worries that they could be in for further considerable disruption.

Intriguing that there also seem to be intentions to curtail the activities of The Diggers around Ypres.

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J Banning
Interesting to know who is so keen to establish this exclusion zone. Most peculiar.

Eminently sensible, I should think.

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astewart

Hi - My great uncle Prv John (Jack) Patrick Phillips was killed during the disasterous night of 19/7/16 at Fromelles.

I have been largely unaware until recently of the dogged efforts made by many of you to lobby and to get us all to this stage - I am very grateful.

I first heard the rumours of the graves just last year and as not a single item belonging to Jack was ever found - and whose death had such a profound and terrible impact on his family (in particular one sister) the hope that he may be one of those who has now FINALLY ALMOST been found...........is very gratifying.

I wish I standing and watching this final piece of history being so carefully played out in this peaceful distant field......I can feel his presence - along with his mates.

You are our eyes.

Anne

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ianw
Eminently sensible, I should think.

Yes, I suppose you may be right JB - But, Im just so nosey!

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Auimfo

For everyone's info, it has been announced that remains have been discovered. At this point they have uncovered a hand an arm and believe it is attached to futher skeletal remains still beneath the soil. Of, course, sensibly, digging has halted until French authorities confirm they are achaelogical remains.

To help answer the questions above, this pit is not the only one. It is believed that there were eight pits dug on the edge of Pheasant Wood and five of them used for the mass graves. (three remained empty and were pinpointed by aerial photos taken during the war). They were all adjacent to each other and I suspect the area cordoned off includes all the other pits. I believe that each of the five is to be excavated to confirm the existance of remains.

Today's news has set things off in a big way here in Australia. I've been interviewed for a newpaper article and Sandra (Fedelmar) has been on radio. We're trying to obtain some exposure for our Fromelles descendant search website (www.fromelles.net) and the emails to the site have been wonderful. Considering quite a number of the Australian missing were British born, we'd be grateful to any of the GWF pals who might give it a little 'advertising' by word of mouth etc. There's no doubt that some of the descendants we seek still reside in the UK.

Cheers,

Tim L.

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ianw

Thanks for the update, Tim. Exciting times.

Is there any current explanation as to why these pits were uncleared after the war?

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Auimfo

To put it fairly simply, they were just missed.

I believe there was some belief that they existed and a rough idea where, but no one really had a clue where to start looking.

It took a Greek born Australian schoolteacher, all these years later, to do some research and dedicate the last eight years of his life to cut through the doubters and red tape and finally convince the authorities to at least have a bit of a look.

What annoyed me the most about the formal announcement here in Australia was when giving thanks, the chief of the army thanked the various governments and the army personnel for their hard work and cooperation in investigating and locating the grave. Not a single bloody mention for Lambis.

At least he's starting to be recognised in the media.

Cheers,

Tim L.

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australianwargraves

G'Day Tim and Others,

Not surprised that the 'real' instigator of the research has been conveniently left out. But I am sure that Lambis would wish for the focus to remain on the sensitive and respectful recovery process and not to glorify him personally. Recognition of an his extraordinary background effort and a great deal of research should be paramount on the minds of all interested parties. Lambis should feel a great sense of personal achievement and enormously proud of his persistence. Great initial result.

Regards,

Matt Smith

Australian War Graves Photographic Archive

www.australianwargraves.org

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michel knockaert

Phaesant Wood Today.

Michel

post-10155-1212072696.jpg

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towisuk

As it is common knowledge as to the location of the excavation project now, I see no harm in posting a section of trench map showing 8 earthworks adjacent to Pheasant Wood. Other versions of the map most commonly show 6 earthworks.

Regards

Tom

post-5284-1212074361.jpg

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Martin Bennitt

Agence France-Presse had a reporter there today and should be filing a story tonight. She spoke to Tony Pollard of the Glasgow University team, who showed her around and said, among other things

"What you see in the immediate background is continued work on pit 5 which is the one that we found human remains on the bottom of (...). We hope that at the end of the day we will be well down into pit 5, and at that point we'll expose a broader expanse to human remains in the bottom of it".

"We can now even see the shape of the German spades that were used to cut the pit"

"That process will continue from pit to pit".

The only other thing he said they'd found were metal rings from German stretchers used to carry the bodies.

cheers Martin B

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sarge2871

Spent 30mins on the phone with Martial Delebarre last night, he is pleased with the progress but did say that he and Lambis were at first refused access to the site also, a meeting was held to determine who was who on site, this after Martial had provided among a lot of other things water pumps for the diggers !

Just watch all the poloticians come out of the woods to claim there part in voting to allow this investigation to go ahead?

I have been to the site many times since I got my first phone call from Lambis telling me that our family relative was buried by the Germans after the battle, this after I put an inquiry on the net seeking information about Cpl Gregory Francis Stalgis, 14th Machine Gun Corps, KIA 19/20 July 1916, hence my first trip to Fromelles and VC Corner 4yrs ago. Since that time we have become good mates with Martial and he came over to the UK to celebrate with us, our 25th wedding anniversary. it`s as though all those who are connected with Fromelles and events surrounding it, are becoming one big extended family. I shall always be forever gratefull to Lambis Engelzos, I wish there were more folk like him around these days.

The process continues.

Colin Stalgis ( Yorkshire, England)

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towisuk

Lambis refused entery to the site!!............sounds as though there are one or two jobsworth about on the project.

Tom

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Victoria Burbidge

I had the most amazing 1½ telephone conversation this evening with Lambis. He described the events of the last few days as both “sensational” and “emotional”. I was staggered to learn he had not been granted access to the excavation area and was equally staggered to learn that, when the human remains were discovered on Tuesday, Lambis was one of the last to hear of it! Unbelievable, absolutely unbelievable. Lambis said that he didn’t mind too much. I don’t know where that man finds his energy, his patience or his humility.

Lambis asked me to pass on a message to Tim, Sandra and Andrew: “All’s good!”

Has anyone else been surprised at the complete lack of press coverage within the British media? I thought that it might be scarce, but didn’t expect absolutely nothing at all. I contacted Jasper Copping today (he wrote a piece for the Sunday Telegraph last July entitled “Mystery of Great War's lost army uncovered”) to find out what he’d heard - and he hadn’t heard anything. In fact, he asked me to supply him with the details.

V.

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ianw

That really is gross discourtesy to Lambis. But I'm not too surprised. I get the impression that offiicaldom would have prefered to let sleeping Diggers lie in this case. Excluding him from the site, is a spiteful little bit of jobsworth behaviour.

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Auimfo

Thanks for the message Victoria. I tried to contact Lambis the other night by using an email address he gave me for Martial Delebarre but unfortunately there hasn't been a reply yet and I'm not sure if he received mine.

I'm staggered that Lambis was at first refused entry to the site. After all these years of his efforts he, more than anyone else, has earned the right to watch over the excavation work.

In my mind, no matter who happens to be in charge of GUARD, who the leader of the Army on site may be, or any other officialdom on board, this has always been and will continue to remain Lambis' project.

Cheers,

Tim L.

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Victoria Burbidge

Tim, I really owe you an apology. If I’d known a little earlier that I was going to be speaking to Lambis, I would have asked if anyone had any questions etc. for me to pass on to him. As it was, I wasn’t given a lot of notice. Sorry!

I’m not surprised that you haven’t yet received a reply from Martial. He’s been driving me mad all week (bless him!) with his lack of response. Possibly his mind is on other things, but it’s a little frustrating to see that he’s just read your e-mail, but is still not answering the phone. Send me a PM with a Martial’s e-mail address in it and I’ll check that it’s correct.

I did have an e-mail from Lambis’ wife yesterday and she said that, when possible, she’s reading his e-mails to him over the telephone, so that may be your best bet at the moment. Failing that, I can always leave another stroppy message on Martial’s answer phone on your behalf …………..

I completely agree with all you say with regard to this always being Lambis’ project. If it wasn’t for him, there would be absolutely nothing going on out there at this time, or in the near future for that matter. Something he said to me on Thursday evening gave me the impression that he’s not as closely involved out there as we all think, but I could have misunderstood. Certainly Martial is on site virtually all the time. Lambis did say that when the remains were uncovered on Tuesday, nothing was said to indicate that anything had been discovered, but the fact that “they” refused to make eye contact with either himself or Martial convinced them both that something had occurred. I still find this attitude towards Lambis quite staggering!

V.

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ianw

There seem to be several threads about Fromelles on the Forum but this seems to be the core one.

Perhaps they should be amalgamated.

I don't know if anyone is planning to be in the area to give us a report from the site - though it would seem unlikely that you will get any sort of access - but it sounds like you might meet some interesting excluded folk.

I presume excavations are now proceeding rather than everyone just sitting around waiting for Msr Plod to arrive - this could take a long time in France if the initial call about the found remains was made at lunch-time!

I hope lambis has now been granted site access - but wouldn't be surprised if he continues to be left out in the cold.

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