Pheasant Wood, Fromelles.

Discussion in 'Prewar' started by Capt.Sensible, Mar 26, 2009.

  1. spider

    spider Very Senior Member

    Aussie who found WWI mass grave banned

    Belinda Tasker

    April 23, 2009 - 12:04PM

    An Australian school teacher who pinpointed the spot where nearly 200 World War I diggers lie in a mass grave in France has been effectively banned from helping to recover and rebury their bodies.

    Lambis Englezos led Australian army officials to the spot of the mass grave on the outskirts of the rural town of Fromelles, near Lille in northern France, after years of painstaking research.
    A team of archaeologists uncovered what were believed to be the remains of about 400 Australian and British soldiers in a series of pits on the edge of Pheasant Wood last May.

    Work to exhume the bodies and rebury them in a new cemetery being built nearby is due to begin in May.

    But Englezos has been told by Australian army officials he will be granted special access to the excavation site only once during the five-month project.

    "It would be somewhat ironic and ultimately disappointing if Canberra were not to allow access," a disappointed Englezos told AAP from his Melbourne home.
    "I can't come and hang on the fence. I would like to be useful.

    "I know the ground and the people. Maybe I could meet and greet people and act as a kind of public liaison and help around the place.

    "I'm not there to gawk. I would like to be able to help see it through."
    A team of 32 archaeologists will begin excavating the bodies on May 5 amid tight security around the grave site.

    They want access to the site limited so as to prevent any contamination of DNA samples they plan to collect from the soldiers' remains in the hope that some of them can be identified.

    Veterans' Affairs Minister Alan Griffin, who is in France for an Anzac Day dawn service on Saturday, visited the Fromelles site on Wednesday and said he hoped Englezos would be able to play a role in the recovery of the diggers' bodies.

    "Lambis Englezos has been a huge contributor to us being in the situation that we are in today," Griffin told AAP.

    "It would not have happened without him, and I would hope that he is appropriately recognised for his role throughout the process."

    Fromelles was the site of one of the most ferocious battles of the Great War, with 5,533 Australian casualties in just one night of fighting in July 1916.

    German soldiers buried the Australian and British soldiers in a series of pits on the outskirts of Fromelles next to Pheasant Wood.

    A defence spokeswoman said the question of access to the site had been vexed and complex.

    Following an open tender process, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission appointed Oxford Archaeology to conduct the excavation.

    "Due to quality assurance, safety and evidentiary concerns, Oxford Archaeology will completely restrict access to the site," the spokeswoman said.
    "Only Oxford Archaeology qualified employees and respective government quality assurance officials will be granted unrestricted site access. No unauthorised access will be granted."

    The spokeswoman said special limited access for individuals would be permitted, based on advice from respective authorities.

    The Australian Army will recommend that Mr Englezos and Tim Whitford, a former soldier also involved in the search for the fallen diggers, be the only two Australians granted this access which will be on one occasion each for a limited period.

    "The Australian Army does not foresee that anyone else from Australia will be granted special access to the archaeological excavation site," she said.
  2. geoff501

    geoff501 Achtung Feind hört mit

  3. Capt.Sensible

    Capt.Sensible Well-Known Member

    Journalists indeed! Some of the basic facts given in the article are completely wrong...don't you just hate the 'meedja'?
  4. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    Same whenever they touch on anything one has some previous understanding of isn't it. Stories too often 'adapted' to fit certain preconceived patterns, eventually leading to a healthy mistrust of anything said on any issue.
  5. Capt.Sensible

    Capt.Sensible Well-Known Member

    Same whenever they touch on anything one has some previous understanding of isn't it. Stories too often 'adapted' to fit certain preconceived patterns, eventually leading to a healthy mistrust of anything said on any issue.
    Quite so, although in this case they seem to have got even the absolute basics wrong, like the names of institutions or people involved in the project. Smacks of a Friday afternoon lash-up by some junior staffer or YTS trainee etc.
  6. Capt.Sensible

    Capt.Sensible Well-Known Member

  7. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Just watched the article on ITV News. :poppy:
  8. Smudger Jnr

    Smudger Jnr Our Man in Berlin

    They promise to speedily identify the remains wherever possible.

    I hope they are proved correct.

    Nice to see the opening ceremony of commemoration before the work starts.

  9. Verrieres

    Verrieres no longer a member

  10. Capt.Sensible

    Capt.Sensible Well-Known Member

    As far as I understand it, one of the major problems to get over when identifying these lads is that in 1916 only one id tag was issued to troops, and these would have been removed wherever possible by the German troops tasked with the burial, and then handed over to the Red Cross. This, I think, is why there is a list of names, numbers etc that Verrieres kindly posted. However, I may be wrong.....

  11. Capt.Sensible

    Capt.Sensible Well-Known Member

    A little something from Radio Four...:unsure:

    From Fact to Fiction - Series 6 - Episode 2

    Series in which writers create a fictional response to the week's news.

    'As experts begin the exhumation of up to 400 unknown WWI soldiers in the village of Fromelles, Bonnie Greer imagines the impact upon some of those involved.'

    BBC iPlayer - From Fact to Fiction: Series 6: Episode 2
  12. 52nd Airborne

    52nd Airborne Green Jacket Brat

    I visited the area last Sunday, I'll post a couple of pictures once I've sorted through the photos.
  13. spider

    spider Very Senior Member

    May well plan another trip over for the ceremony on the 19 July 2010, if it goes ahead as planned.

  14. Capt.Sensible

    Capt.Sensible Well-Known Member

    May well plan another trip over for the ceremony on the 19 July 2010, if it goes ahead as planned.


    A report would be very welcome, Spider.

  15. spider

    spider Very Senior Member

    A report would be very welcome, Spider.


    You'll have to wait 12 months

  16. Capt.Sensible

    Capt.Sensible Well-Known Member

    You'll have to wait 12 months


    I didn't read that right, did I....doh! A report in 12 months time would still be very welcome, Spider.

  17. Capt.Sensible

    Capt.Sensible Well-Known Member

    Afternoon all,

    A progress report to date from Fromelles:

    'Here’s a summary of the excavation work completed so far:
    Oxford Archaeology have excavated graves 1 and 2 with earthmoving equipment to a level above where remains are expected to be found.
    Excavation has now continued by hand using small tool techniques to the level of the remains.
    A small quantity of bones which had previously been revealed in last years trial dig have been x-rayed and are further being processed prior to the removal of the full skeletons.
    Preparatory work has commenced on the sampling techniques and methodologies which will be used on the remains prior to DNA viability testing.
    David Richardson
    Fromelles Project Manager'


  18. Capt.Sensible

    Capt.Sensible Well-Known Member

    Update on the work so far:

    'We had torrential rain during the earlier part of this week, but our various water management strategies have kept it away from the graves. A number of sets of remains have been recovered from both graves one and two and booked into the mortuary. Others are in the process of being excavated and some have had samples taken for DNA. Further remains have been partially exposed.'

    Fromelles » Blog Archive » 12 June: Louise Loe of Oxford Archaeology reports on progress in the field

    CS :poppy:
  19. Capt.Sensible

    Capt.Sensible Well-Known Member

    Paul Reed likes this.
  20. Paul Reed

    Paul Reed Ubique

    Interesting stuff.

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