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First of 250 WWI soldiers from mass grave reburied

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  • First of 250 WWI soldiers from mass grave reburied

    The first of 250 unknown British and Australian soldiers whose bodies were dumped by the Germans in mass graves in northern France during World War I was reburied on Saturday with full military honours.

    The soldiers were killed in July 1916 during the Battle of Fromelles, generally considered a significant defeat for the Allies.

    The unidentified bodies were discovered in mass gravesites in 2008 and experts have been working to find out who they are, but the identity of the first to be reburied remained unknown.

    The remains were re-interred with British and Australian dignitaries in attendance at the military cemetery of Fromelles, about 16 km (10 miles) west of Lille.

    Experts are continuing work on identifying the bodies, all of which will be formally reburied over the course of the year.



    A bearer party carries the coffin of an Australian soldier at Pheasant Wood military
    The worst sin toward our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them: that's the essence of inhumanity.
    (George Bernard Shaw, Playwright, 1856 - 1950)

  • #2
    is it being made into documentry

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    • #3
      You can be sure it is. Every aspect of it will be captured on film.
      The worst sin toward our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them: that's the essence of inhumanity.
      (George Bernard Shaw, Playwright, 1856 - 1950)

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      • #4
        Its nice to see these men being afforded the dignity of proper burial.

        Sort of brings it all into perspective - 250 in one mass grave.
        'History is a vast early warning system'. Norman Cousins

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        • #5
          After the second world war, 65000 german WW1 remains were reburied in one mass grave in Belgium. The Belgians were unwilling to let Germany have any bit of land, even in death.


          Catch-22 says they have a right to do anything we can't stop them from doing.

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          • #6
            May they all + Rest In Peace +

            Sad to say, I doubt if the indvidual identity of all the men found, if any, will be postively known,

            unless any i.d. tags etc..etc.. are found on a body, its highly unlikely after so long that

            any viable D.N.A. material is available from the bodies in a mass grave as well,

            does a decent D.N.A. data base from W.W.1 M.I.A. family members even exsist?

            As for the comment that the Germans dumped the bodies is that provable?

            I believe most battlefield burials, including mass burials of any soldiers killed was a hasty affair, many

            of the remains lying for weeks out in the open and finaly gathered when there was a quiet lull in the

            fighting.

            Connaught Stranger.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Connaught Stranger View Post
              does a decent D.N.A. data base from W.W.1 M.I.A. family members even exsist?
              The CWGC requested anyone who thought that they had family members killed at Fromelles to give a DNA sample.
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              red headed old dear got a smack on her ginger head

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Groundhog View Post
                The CWGC requested anyone who thought that they had family members killed at Fromelles to give a DNA sample.
                Not exactly a way to ensure and identification, were the CWGC offering to pay for the samples being taken?

                And the chances are some of these men had family lines die out post WW1. Cant recall which side of the family, they use for D.N.A. the Mothers or Fathers but not both. Also the area where they were buried is very wet which often leads to remains being in no fit condition for decent D.N.A. samples.

                Connaught Stranger.

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                • #9
                  CWGC has a strange policy with regards identification. It prefers to leave unknown graves as unknown, and offers no assistance to those who using modern technology could easily and without too much disturbance to remains, identify those buried.
                  However there is another theory that suggests the stones marking graves do not mark graves at all in many cases, but merely provide reference to those known to be buried in a mass grave on site.
                  Keep in mind that many burials were carried out during a lull in heavy shelling, and a second world war passed over the same sites some years later.


                  Catch-22 says they have a right to do anything we can't stop them from doing.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Goldie fish View Post
                    CWGC has a strange policy with regards identification. It prefers to leave unknown graves as unknown, and offers no assistance to those who using modern technology could easily and without too much disturbance to remains, identify those buried.
                    However there is another theory that suggests the stones marking graves do not mark graves at all in many cases, but merely provide reference to those known to be buried in a mass grave on site.
                    Keep in mind that many burials were carried out during a lull in heavy shelling, and a second world war passed over the same sites some years later.
                    Hi Goldie-fish

                    As far as I am aware, from reading posts on THE GREAT WAR FORUM named C.W.G.C. graves have the identified remains in them, many of the massive graveyards today, which dot the landscape of France and Flanders were created from smaller gravesites which were gatherered in post WW1, many of these were with known documented burials in them, (some have a double headstone, where upon exhumation two bodies were found in the original grave and it was not possible to id who was who in pre DNA testing times, so they were reburied together.)

                    Whereas many unidentified or graves marked "Soldier of the Great War" / "Known unto God" possibly have a provisionary i.d. made with reference nationality due to an item of British / Commonwealth kit, clothing, etc. . which was found when the bodies were originaly exhumed.

                    Of course there are many private gravestones in these cemeterys and in the landscape, quite a few families prefered to keep their own headstone and not accept the standard C.W.G.C. headstone.

                    The problem arose not so much with the same area being fought over again in WW2 (in fact its recorded that Hitler gave express orders that Allied WW1 War Graves be spared as much as possible in the course of the campaign,) but, due to the fact the same ground being fought over more than once in the course of the war, massive artillery bombardments from both sides did not respect grave markers and graves, it is also known that from Regimental diaries, private letters, word of mouth, etc .. etc .. the co-ordinates of known graves, when visited immediate post war no trace due to continual shelling, could be found.

                    One of the reasons for the C.W.G.C. policy might be that for them to undertake a D.N.A. analyasis of all those hundreds of thousands of unknowns would entail prohibative cost to the tax-payer, and the fact that some of the remains had been disinterred and rebuired 3 - 4 times, along with the ravages of the soil in which they have been buried in might result in hundreds of thousands of non-suitable D.N.A. samples.

                    Also for the D.N.A. identification to work, hundreds of thousands of people would have to be tested for DNA samples to reverse analyse and again the Public would have to foot the bill.

                    Connaught Stranger.

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                    • #11
                      One factor working against the Allied dead is that their ID tags were of leather and are often beyond reading.The Germans had metal tags that often remain readable to this day.Still, it's good to see them formally buried and their country remembering them.
                      regards
                      GttC

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                      • #12
                        Theres a few names removed from the Theipval Memorial ie they were identified or found and given properly marked headstones.
                        'History is a vast early warning system'. Norman Cousins

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Goldie fish View Post
                          However there is another theory that suggests the stones marking graves do not mark graves at all in many cases, but merely provide reference to those known to be buried in a mass grave on site
                          This is more than a theory. Here are some examples.



                          Devonshire Trench. Soldiers from the Devonshire Regiment killed on 1 July 1916 were buried in their trench.



                          Beach Cemetery, Gallipoli



                          Mill Road Cemetery, Somme.
                          Headstones with no space between them would indicate a mass burial. The soldier is not necessarily under his headstone.





                          Royal Munster Fusiliers last stand at Etreux. 27 August 1914.
                          Mass grave with the headstones around the outside wall.



                          Buried somewhere in the vicinity...maybe
                          Last edited by WES; 6 February 2010, 21:57.
                          The worst sin toward our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them: that's the essence of inhumanity.
                          (George Bernard Shaw, Playwright, 1856 - 1950)

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Connaught Stranger View Post
                            Whereas many unidentified or graves marked "Soldier of the Great War" / "Known unto God" possibly have a provisionary i.d. made with reference nationality due to an item of British / Commonwealth kit, clothing, etc. . which was found when the bodies were originaly exhumed
                            Here are two examples.



                            The worst sin toward our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them: that's the essence of inhumanity.
                            (George Bernard Shaw, Playwright, 1856 - 1950)

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Connaught Stranger View Post
                              Of course there are many private gravestones in these cemeterys and in the landscape, quite a few families prefered to keep their own headstone and not accept the standard C.W.G.C. headstone.
                              Incorrect. Private headstones are not allowed for obvious reasons. As an example, here is the headstone of Prince Michael of Battenberg, Queen Victoria's grandson.



                              Major Willie Redmond has a family headstone but he is buried outside the wall of Locre Hospice Cemetery in accordance with his family's wishes.



                              But here is a grave in Arras with a family headstone behind the CWGC headstone.



                              If you have a photo of a family headstone in a CWGC cemetery, I'd be interested in seeing it.
                              Last edited by WES; 6 February 2010, 21:42.
                              The worst sin toward our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them: that's the essence of inhumanity.
                              (George Bernard Shaw, Playwright, 1856 - 1950)

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