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velo350

Fromelles16: July 19th events

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Ralph J. Whitehead

'Fascinating that remains have been found so early presumably at the very highest level of the dig. This would certainly seem to confirm that this pit at least was uncleared. We await further news from the site with great interest.'

This was from one of the earlier threads that has been shut down. While the finds are encouraging the issue of nationality needs to be looked at in detail. I have been on sites where the remains from seeral armies were found mixed together.

Also, after the Little Big Horn battlefield was cleared everyone felt all remains were recovered. When they performed an archaeological dig after a brush fire some years back they found quite a few human remains that had been left behind after the initial recovery as well as almost a complete skeleton that had been missed. There is also the question of the missing troopers in the lower ravine near the river. Silt and other debris has probably buried them far below where you would expect to find them.

I hope that they are able to locate enough material and items so that not only can they identify the nationality of the remains but their identities as well.

Ralph

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Victoria Burbidge
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!

The excavation began with Pit No. 5 (what would appear to be the largest of the five pits). Work was halted immediately the first sign of remains was uncovered (an arm up to the elbow). At this point, as is always the case in these matters, the police were called in to remove any doubt that it could have been the scene of a crime. This took place almost immediately and the excavation continues. This process will take place as each pit is opened up and human remains uncovered.

Two other pits have now been opened up revealing another hand and forearm to the articulated joint, a leg bone and one other unidentified body part. The digging is now slower and at a deeper level as the archaeologists attempt to determine how many layers of remains are contained in each pit. It would appear from the condition of the local brown and blue clay in which the pits were dug that the ground has remained undisturbed since the men were buried there ninety-two years ago.

The purpose behind the current excavation is to ascertain, once and for all, whether or not any or all of these five pits contain the remains the “Fromelles” missing and to establish, as accurately as possible, how many sets of remains lie within the mass grave as a whole. Once this has been completed, the pits will be covered over again until a decision (between the Australian, British and French governments) has been reached on the future of the remains, i.e. whether they will be exhumed or the mass grave itself turned into a cemetery such as that at VC Corner.

V.

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Victoria Burbidge

I've just noticed that Terry Denham has suggested (in thread "Limited excavation of suspected Battle of Fromelles burial site, Announcement by Australian Dept of Defence") that this thread becomes the main thread for this paricular topic so as to avoid any duplication.

V.

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Cnock

Fromelles, July 1918

Cnock

post-7723-1212258225.jpg

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Cnock

FromelleS,

July 1918

post-7723-1212258300.jpg

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Victoria Burbidge

My granddad’s brother was killed at Fromelles on 9th May 1915 during the Northern Attack of the Battle of Aubers Ridge. Survivors of the 1916 battle spoke of clambering over the mummified remains of the men from the year before. Adrian Bristow, in his book “A Serious Disappointment”, gives two chilling eyewitness accounts from 1918:

“On the way back we spent some time in the old no-man’s-land of four years’ duration, round about Fauquissart and Aubers. It was a morbid but intensely interesting occupation tracing the various battles among the hundreds of skulls, bones and remains scattered thickly about. The progress of our successive attacks could be clearly seen from the types of equipment on the skeletons; soft caps denoting 1914 and early 1915, then respirators, then steel helmets marking attacks in 1916. Also Australian slouch hats, used in the costly and abortive attack in 1916. There were many of these poor remains all along the German wire.”

“We found the old no-man’s-land simply full of our dead. In the narrow sector west of the Laies River and east of the Sugar-Loaf salient, the skulls and bones and torn uniforms were lying about everywhere. I found a bit of Australian kit lying fifty yards from the corner of the salient, and the bones of an Australian officer and several men within 100 yards of it. Farther round, immediately on their flank, were a few British - you can tell them by their leather equipment. And within 100 yards of the west corner of the Sugar-Loaf salient there was lying a small party of English too - also with an officer - you could tell by the cloth of his coat.”

It’s hard to know what to say in response to images such as these except that I know why I do what I do and for whom I do it.

V.

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ianw

The photos of Fromelles in 1918 are absolutely chilling - but I suppose this charnel house was no different from many places on the Western Front.

Many thanks to Victoria for her update. Of course,Terry is right to consolidate the threads on Fromelles but the title of this one is now a bit misleading so perhaps should be modified.

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Cnock

I ask myself if these are humain remains found in former no mansland during the German offensive in 1918, or casualties of this 1918 Offensive, or are these burials of 1917, disturbed by shell fire.

Cnock

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NigelS

There is a short article in today's Sunday Telegraph see http://tinyurl.com/46nvaq for the online version

NigelS

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keggy65

Thought I'd share this with you all (I have done a search but couldn't find anything so forgive me if it's already been posted).

http://news.bbc.co.uk/player/nol/newsid_73...rue&bbcws=2

Mabel

Edit: Sorry, this video covers the whole of this morning's BBC news (not just the piece about the project).

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Frank_East

BBC News 24 gave an update from Peter Barton, described as the Project Manager, this morming.(Sunday)

The large suspect grave area has been screened off and it would appear that excavations will start shortly.

There will be a live news covering on Monday morning.

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robbie
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

Chapter 6 of Matt McLachlan's book, "Walking with the anzacs", provides an excellent account of the battle and a map of the area.

Robbie

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roel22

Hope I'm not sounding too morbid looking at Cnock's pics, but where are the skeletons? Both pics only seem to show skulls...

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auchonvillerssomme

I think the rest of the remains are there but probably covered by the equipment and uniforms, dont forget the skull would be the largest exposed area, and looking at the helmets dotted around i dont beleive the skulls were brought in from a wider area.

Mick

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Cnock

I suspect that the skulls, helmets and boots were brought together, in order to create a morbid atmosphere.

Cnock

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pat geary

Mabel,

Thanks very much for this, knew nothing about it. Sounds like some good work is about to be done - at long last.

Pat

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Cnock

...and it will be difficult to give all these men a single grave, and what about identification?

Cnock

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Cnock

I enlarged the pics the best I could, spotted no other parts of remains.

Cnock

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NigelS

quote: 'Cnock' [date=Jun 1 2008, 10:31 AM' post='931208] ...and it will be difficult to give all these men a single grave, and what about identification?

In the absence of other identification, DNA extracted from the remains could be compared with that of possible descendants in order to attempt to identify those buried. This raises the moral issue of whether the remains should be further disturbed in order to attempt identify them, or now left to rest in peace as they have been for the last ninety plus years. My grandfather has no known grave but, should his remains ever come to light, I'd like to think that the opportunity of providing him with a known grave - be it individual or mass - could be taken.

NigelS

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ianw

Quiet understand and respect your position , Nigel but , as you acknowledge, there are also people who would want their relatives to rest in peace where they have lain for the best part of a century. A real dilemma. I lean on the side of providing a named grave if possible but there is also much to be said for the idea of creating a new cemetery above them - it would be a way of rededicating our rememberance of them and would certainly be beneficial to the Fromelles area in terms of creating visitors.

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mazzie74
Thought I'd share this with you all (I have done a search but couldn't find anything so forgive me if it's already been posted).

http://news.bbc.co.uk/player/nol/newsid_73...rue&bbcws=2

Mabel

Edit: Sorry, this video covers the whole of this morning's BBC news (not just the piece about the project).

Hi,

This link should give you the coverage of just the Fromelle excavation.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7429747.stm

Regards,

Darin, Newcastle-upon-Tyne

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Cnock

Hello NigelS,

my last reply concerned the pics...

Regards,

Cnock

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roel22
...and it will be difficult to give all these men a single grave, and what about identification?

Looking at the pics it is more than likely several of the fallen ended up in more than one grave.

Roel

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