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Almost a century after a terrible Somme death, another Anzac's history is uncovered

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  • Daniel/1920
    replied
    Yes, I keep in regular contact with Joe. He is great and a powerhouse of information on the history of West Cork/Inchigeela.
    A photo taken in 1915 for the Sphere Periodical, shows Sgt Maunsell on one side meeting Michael O'Leary VC and Joe's grandmother on the other side admiring the VC medal.

    Leave a comment:


  • Goldie fish
    replied
    Just spotted your post.
    Sorry I didn't see it sooner.
    Your family has a proud History. I presume you spoke to Joe Creedon?

    Leave a comment:


  • Daniel/1920
    replied
    Originally posted by Goldie fish View Post


    IT IS at once extraordinarily unnerving, very moving and a great privilege to help retrieve the bones of a long-dead Australian soldier who has lain beneath the mud of the Somme for the best past of a century.

    In spring, when most tourists visit, the Somme is renowned for its tranquil beauty and serenity, with its vivid flourishes of red poppies in verdant fields beneath turquoise skies. But in winter, whipped by bitter winds, snow and icy rain, it is a grey, foreboding, malevolent place of low, leaden clouds and knee-deep mud.

    A few nights earlier battlefield guide Dominique Zanardi had taken us on a tour of public works diggings on the battlefields, where he had unearthed what is known colloquially as the "iron harvest" - old bullets and shells, gun parts and hand grenades.

    Advertisement: Story continues below Now, on Saturday, we find ourselves standing in the bitter wind, the mud sucking at our boots, beside a one-metre newly excavated drainage ditch outside Mouquet Farm near Pozieres - the scene of a bitter three-week battle in August 1916 that claimed 11,000 Australian casualties - as Mr Zanardi gingerly passes us bones that we, in turn, place in a hessian sack.

    He uncovers the soldier's boots, still holding the bones of his feet, and places them on the side of the ditch. As we carefully carry the rest of the man's remains from the ditch to the bag containing his skull and his jawbone, his arms and his legs, one thought dominates: dignity and glory do not belong to the battlefield.

    As with the many thousands of others who lost their lives in the terrible fighting on the Somme during World War I, the battlefield has claimed this soldier's identity. And were it not for Mr Zanardi he would probably have stayed anonymously beneath the sticky mud of the Somme for an eternity.

    Now, perhaps, the experts from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission will be able to recover the soldier's identity courtesy of his watch or possibly by using dental records.

    Mr Zanardi found the soldier's partially exposed body in the drainage ditch late last Friday. He recovered some of the bones immediately and the rest with us the next day.

    Unable to contact anyone from the war graves commission at the weekend, Mr Zanardi and the mayor of Pozieres, Bernard Delattre, were planning to remove the body from the site today to prevent it from being reinterred by the bulldozer on the site.

    Mr Delatre, meanwhile, had tried unsuccessfully to inform the Australian embassy in Paris over the weekend that a World War I Digger had been found near his village.

    Mr Zanardi, who regularly searches excavations for roads and drains around the Somme for war relics, believes the body is definitely that of an Australian officer who died in the battle of Mouquet Farm.

    While no identity disc was found, the soldier's pistol holster was stamped "AUSTRALIA" and "WA".

    Mr Zanardi also believes it is possible to conclusively identify the man as an Australian because of the unique buckle on his tunic.

    "It is a typically Australian buckle - no other soldiers from any country that fought here on the Somme had this buckle," said Mr Zanardi, who has found the bodies of 15 World War I servicemen around the Somme during the past two decades.

    "Also the holster is stamped as being Australian and the metal stud on the holster is unique to Australian leather apparel and fittings used in World War I."

    While his name still eludes us, there are some things that we do know about the soldier.

    The first is that he died terribly - probably, given the amount of shrapnel surrounding his body, as a result of shellfire.

    The second is that he was heavily armed and up for a fight. The remains of a Lee-Enfield rifle and 150 rounds of ammunition, eight Mills bombs, a bayonet scabbard and a Webley service revolver were buried with him.

    Shell shrapnel or bullets had penetrated the leather cover of his watch and his holster.

    Judging by the size of his boots, he was not a particularly big man. His fob watch gave no obvious clues about his identity.

    According to maps of the trench system around Pozieres, the soldier died in the no man's land that stood between Mouquet Farm and an allied redoubt that was secured with barbed wire.

    Mouquet Farm stands on the gently rolling fields 1.7 kilometres behind Pozieres. It was a German stronghold on the Somme. Between August 8 and September 3, 1916, it was the object of nine fierce attacks from the three Australian divisions of the 1st Anzac Corps.

    In just under seven weeks of fighting at Pozieres and at Mouquet Farm, three Australian divisions suffered 23,000 casualties of whom 6800 men died of wounds. Thousands of Diggers died in the area and the name Mouquet Farm connotes Australian military tragedy on par with Gallipoli and Fromelles in nearby Flanders.

    Australia's official World War I historian Charles Bean wrote of Pozieres and Mouquet Farm in July 1916 that "there is no undamaged surface here".

    Tens of thousands of dead, including scores of Australians, remain in unmarked graves across the fields of the Somme and Flanders. Farmers and excavation workers routinely plough bodies back into the earth rather than deal with the bureaucracy associated with reporting and investigating such discoveries.

    Ten to 15 bodies of World War I servicemen are found on the Somme each year.

    As we placed the bones of one of them carefully into the hessian bag beside his muddy grave, it was poignantly satisfying to know that he would next be at rest in a coffin and that he would, at last, be afforded some dignity almost a century after his death. Hopefully, now his identity will be returned.


    http://www.smh.com.au/national/almos...116-19sk0.html
    Hi Goldie fish/Vogon,
    Read your message posted 2/3/2010 ' First headstone of WW1 unvailed.....' with a reference to my great grandfather Sgt Daniel Maunsell RIC.
    Sgt Daniel Maunsell Service Number 55061
    Born Fortwilliam, Co Kerry 12/1/1871;Joined RIC 1/6/1891
    Awarded 1st Class Fav for bravery 3/2/1920
    Shot 21/08/1920 after 28 year service to his country. His grave was then lost to most of his family.
    Grave located in St. Finbarr's Cemetary in 2008.
    Asked an Garda Siochana in March 2008 if he could be remembered in the Memorial Garden/Dublin Castle.
    Versus
    Grand Uncle Col. Joe O'Reilly, Michael Collin's ADC
    Born in Bantry, Co. Cork 1893
    Fought in GPO 1916; Awarded 1916 Medal
    Died August 1943;
    Buried with full military honours in Glasnevin Cemetry.

    Such is life!
    Regards

    Leave a comment:


  • Almost a century after a terrible Somme death, another Anzac's history is uncovered



    IT IS at once extraordinarily unnerving, very moving and a great privilege to help retrieve the bones of a long-dead Australian soldier who has lain beneath the mud of the Somme for the best past of a century.

    In spring, when most tourists visit, the Somme is renowned for its tranquil beauty and serenity, with its vivid flourishes of red poppies in verdant fields beneath turquoise skies. But in winter, whipped by bitter winds, snow and icy rain, it is a grey, foreboding, malevolent place of low, leaden clouds and knee-deep mud.

    A few nights earlier battlefield guide Dominique Zanardi had taken us on a tour of public works diggings on the battlefields, where he had unearthed what is known colloquially as the "iron harvest" - old bullets and shells, gun parts and hand grenades.

    Advertisement: Story continues below Now, on Saturday, we find ourselves standing in the bitter wind, the mud sucking at our boots, beside a one-metre newly excavated drainage ditch outside Mouquet Farm near Pozieres - the scene of a bitter three-week battle in August 1916 that claimed 11,000 Australian casualties - as Mr Zanardi gingerly passes us bones that we, in turn, place in a hessian sack.

    He uncovers the soldier's boots, still holding the bones of his feet, and places them on the side of the ditch. As we carefully carry the rest of the man's remains from the ditch to the bag containing his skull and his jawbone, his arms and his legs, one thought dominates: dignity and glory do not belong to the battlefield.

    As with the many thousands of others who lost their lives in the terrible fighting on the Somme during World War I, the battlefield has claimed this soldier's identity. And were it not for Mr Zanardi he would probably have stayed anonymously beneath the sticky mud of the Somme for an eternity.

    Now, perhaps, the experts from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission will be able to recover the soldier's identity courtesy of his watch or possibly by using dental records.

    Mr Zanardi found the soldier's partially exposed body in the drainage ditch late last Friday. He recovered some of the bones immediately and the rest with us the next day.

    Unable to contact anyone from the war graves commission at the weekend, Mr Zanardi and the mayor of Pozieres, Bernard Delattre, were planning to remove the body from the site today to prevent it from being reinterred by the bulldozer on the site.

    Mr Delatre, meanwhile, had tried unsuccessfully to inform the Australian embassy in Paris over the weekend that a World War I Digger had been found near his village.

    Mr Zanardi, who regularly searches excavations for roads and drains around the Somme for war relics, believes the body is definitely that of an Australian officer who died in the battle of Mouquet Farm.

    While no identity disc was found, the soldier's pistol holster was stamped "AUSTRALIA" and "WA".

    Mr Zanardi also believes it is possible to conclusively identify the man as an Australian because of the unique buckle on his tunic.

    "It is a typically Australian buckle - no other soldiers from any country that fought here on the Somme had this buckle," said Mr Zanardi, who has found the bodies of 15 World War I servicemen around the Somme during the past two decades.

    "Also the holster is stamped as being Australian and the metal stud on the holster is unique to Australian leather apparel and fittings used in World War I."

    While his name still eludes us, there are some things that we do know about the soldier.

    The first is that he died terribly - probably, given the amount of shrapnel surrounding his body, as a result of shellfire.

    The second is that he was heavily armed and up for a fight. The remains of a Lee-Enfield rifle and 150 rounds of ammunition, eight Mills bombs, a bayonet scabbard and a Webley service revolver were buried with him.

    Shell shrapnel or bullets had penetrated the leather cover of his watch and his holster.

    Judging by the size of his boots, he was not a particularly big man. His fob watch gave no obvious clues about his identity.

    According to maps of the trench system around Pozieres, the soldier died in the no man's land that stood between Mouquet Farm and an allied redoubt that was secured with barbed wire.

    Mouquet Farm stands on the gently rolling fields 1.7 kilometres behind Pozieres. It was a German stronghold on the Somme. Between August 8 and September 3, 1916, it was the object of nine fierce attacks from the three Australian divisions of the 1st Anzac Corps.

    In just under seven weeks of fighting at Pozieres and at Mouquet Farm, three Australian divisions suffered 23,000 casualties of whom 6800 men died of wounds. Thousands of Diggers died in the area and the name Mouquet Farm connotes Australian military tragedy on par with Gallipoli and Fromelles in nearby Flanders.

    Australia's official World War I historian Charles Bean wrote of Pozieres and Mouquet Farm in July 1916 that "there is no undamaged surface here".

    Tens of thousands of dead, including scores of Australians, remain in unmarked graves across the fields of the Somme and Flanders. Farmers and excavation workers routinely plough bodies back into the earth rather than deal with the bureaucracy associated with reporting and investigating such discoveries.

    Ten to 15 bodies of World War I servicemen are found on the Somme each year.

    As we placed the bones of one of them carefully into the hessian bag beside his muddy grave, it was poignantly satisfying to know that he would next be at rest in a coffin and that he would, at last, be afforded some dignity almost a century after his death. Hopefully, now his identity will be returned.


    http://www.smh.com.au/national/almos...116-19sk0.html
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