Pheasant Wood, Fromelles.

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

  1. idler

    idler GeneralList Patron

    It was an interesting comment from Peter Barton that he's found references to another 30 or so grave pits in the area. I wonder if that will be pursued?

    I 'enjoyed' the programme and appreciated the fact that it had a British bias. Couldn't help cringing a bit to see bricks being cut without eye protection and sandals being worn on site!
  2. Mike L

    Mike L Very Senior Member

    Idler, I picked up on the ref to other 'grave pits'. Hopefully the ancient paperwork now being searched will provide sufficient evidence for further excavations. 'Austerity measures' mustn't stop this kind of work.
    Perhaps there isn't a HSE office in Fromelles! When I am on site here Eye protection, Hi-Vis, gloves, safety boots, ear defenders etc are mandatory - it's not nice in this warm weather.
    And SANDALS??????

  3. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    I do wonder how bothered authorities are regarding the recovery of bodies. It has been written (The Forgotten Massacre) by a former mayor and historian of Wormhout that there are many bodies still buried undiscovered in a field opposite where the massacre took place in 1940.

    His account does make sense as so few bodies were recovered from a mass grave(s) and tests suggest there was close to a 100 men in the barn after witness's said the barn was packed tight with men.
  4. idler

    idler GeneralList Patron

    And SANDALS??????

    He was wearing socks as well - they might have been kevlar.
  5. Cobber

    Cobber Senior Member

    I do wonder how bothered authorities are regarding the recovery of bodies..

    , I do not know about Britian or other nations and how interested they are however I believe the Aussie Govt's have been embarrassed into action at times by independent private citizens, however for the past approximately ten (10) years down here in OZ the authorities have been gathering steam and finding MIA's.

    It as it seems to be always with these things in that it all started with private citizens doing most of the initial leg and paper work. When these persons had a certain amount of reliable information the Aussie govt and Military has backed them, and these groups have managed to RTA (Return To Australia) all known Aussie MIA's from Viet Nam, Malaysian emergency and Indonesian confrontation. Large portions of our population down here appear to have a general interests in the wars Aussies were in and these type of stories get picked up early on and are often run and rerun regularly by the mass media.

    Now again from the hard work of a private citizen the Govts of Aust and Brit got together to return these men to the world and re-intern these men from 1916 in a decent burial in a proper grave.
    I wonder if the Aussie MIA enthusiasts will continue with the work started here and try and find more MIA's.
    I personally find it a great pity that MIA's from Korea will probably never be found and given a proper burial as the MIA's were lost over the 38th parallel and further north into the Communist nation of Nth Korea.
  6. geoff501

    geoff501 Achtung Feind hört mit

  7. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

  8. spider

    spider Very Senior Member

    Battlefield detective switches sights to Bullecourt
    15 Jan, 2011 04:00 AM
    IT took nearly 100 years for nearly 100 families to finally lay their loved ones to rest.
    Now, in the wake of the Fromelles mass grave discovery in France, more Western District families whose sons, brothers and fathers never came home from World War I have new reason to hope for a belated opportunity to do the same.
    On July 19 last year, 250 Australian and British soldiers were buried with full military honours at a new cemetery in the northern French village of Fromelles, a short walk from the mass grave at Pheasant Wood where they had lain, unknown, since being buried there by the Germans in 1916.
    Using DNA samples matched to family members, 96 of those soldiers have been identified as Australians, several of them from the south-west. Family representatives of 81 of the 96 made the pilgrimage to last July's moving ceremony.
    It had taken eight long years of dogged determination by Melbourne amateur historian Lambis Englezos and his band of researchers and supporters to achieve, but the emotion of that ceremony and the closure it brought to so many families was reward enough.
    "For me, the culmination of it all came at 3pm on the afternoon of July 19 last year, when the families got to finally make their pilgrimages," Mr Englezos recalled.
    The focus for Mr Englezos has now turned to the nearby battlefield of Bullecourt where, over the course of two battles with the Germans in April and May of 1917, 10,000 Australian soldiers were killed or wounded.
    Peterborough man James Affleck co-wrote For King and Country , which details the region's World War I enlistments. He estimates several hundred men recruited from Warrnambool and district, mainly to the 14th and 46th battalions, fought in the two battles. Fifty-five of them died.
    Mr Affleck believes there is every possibility many could lie in mass graves similar to Fromelles.
    Second Lieutenant John Youl , a young man in his early 20s, was among the Bullecourt victims, killed in a bombing raid on the trenches. His great-nephew, Yambuk farmer Geoff Youl, lives in hope of one day being able to give him the burial he deserves.
    "It would be nice to be able to pay our respects. These men have made the supreme sacrifice," said Mr Youl, who only learned of his great-uncle's involvement in the war after research by Port Fairy genealogist Maria Cameron to trace the Youl family tree about six years ago.
    He has since travelled to the Western Front battle sites three times in the past six years in conjunction with the Fromelles search.
    "A lot of people say 'they've been there for over 90 years, leave them there'. But that doesn't give the families closure," he said.
    While still falling short of the detailed evidence necessary to mount a case to the Australian military for a Fromelles-style search, Mr Englezos is confident of future, significant finds at Bullecourt.
    "Every time I have walked the ground at Bullecourt, it always filled me with dread and now I know why...we have several likely sites," Mr Englezos said.
    "We are a long way short of defining research, but the precedent of Pheasant Wood will be tested . And there are many, many soldiers from this area still missing."
    Two of the soldiers who did survive the horror of the war to return home to Warrnambool, Bill Boyce and Frank Wormald, unknowingly played their part in inspiring the current search for our Western Front war dead.
    Mr Englezos was helping friend Robin Corfield research his Fromelles book Don't Forget Me, Cobber when he met the World War I veterans on a family holiday to Warrnambool.
    "That's where I met the '19th of July Men' (so-called because they had lived through the July 19 Fromelles carnage) and it became very personal for me," Mr Englezos said.
    "I met them at Lyndoch and I consider myself very fortunate to have had their company and companionship.
    "We talked about everything, not just the war, but what they did impart about the war years and Fromelles specifically helped with our research.
    "I then went to Fromelles in 1996 for the 80th anniversary and than in 2002 after Robin's book was published, and that's when I started asking some questions.
    ''Where were the missing of Fromelles? The numbers didn't add up. Robin planted the flag and I picked it up and carried it forward."
    Maria Cameron has been a vital member of the Fromelles team as a researcher for many years.
    Like Mr Englezos, her motivation is borne from a sense of duty to those soldiers who died without due recognition.
    " These men gave so much and the irony is they died without knowing we won the war," Mrs Cameron said.
    "It's like these men have been waiting for us. When you walk through the fields, it's like you're being watched.
    "In this day and age, we are morally bereft if we don't identify them and give them a proper burial.
    "I am totally addicted. I will never stop, I can't stop. It's a passion for giving families some closure ."
    Mr Englezos received the Order of Australia Medal in the 2009 Queen's Birthday honours list for his research and advocacy work for the Fromelles Aussie Diggers.
    In the same year he received the RSL's Anzac of the Year Award. He is in demand for public speaking engagements and has featured in numerous national television documentaries and interviews for his research.
    With his wife Suzanne, originally from Camperdown, Mr Englezos, Mrs Cameron and her husband Max were the guests of Australia's Governor-General Quentin Bryce at a Remembrance Day lunch at Government House in Canberra last year .
    For this Greek-born former arts and crafts teacher with a passion for military history, however, such attention is simply a byproduct of a crusade whose objective is ultimately about dignity.
    "It's all about giving these men their names and giving them back their dignity with a proper burial and headstone
    "If we don't follow through with that, we are sending a poor message to the current serving men and women of Australia," he said.
    "Our men cannot be a logistical or financial inconvenience."
    For Mrs Cameron, her sense of duty to these lost Diggers is reinforced by a strong personal connection.
    Imbued with a strong family military interest, as a child she marched proudly in Anzac Day parades adorned with the medals of her uncle Reginald Curtin, who died as a prisoner of war at Ambon, Indonesia, at the hands of the Japanese in World War II.
    Her husband's great-uncle Simon Fraser, from Byaduk, was a sergeant in the 57th Battalion at Fromelles.
    He is depicted in the 'Cobbers' statue at Fromelles, carrying a wounded soldier to safety. Although he survived Fromelles, Mr Fraser was promoted to Lieutenant, only to die fighting at Bullecourt on May 11, 1917.
    Mrs Cameron hopes her research will one day allow Lieutenant Fraser to also rest in peace.
    Footnote: Of the 250 bodies reburied at Fromelles, 96 have been identified as Australian, three as British and 42 unconfirmed, leaving 109 yet to be identified. DNA testing will continue until 2014.
    Families of soldiers missing at Fromelles should register with the Australian Defence Department by calling (02) 62662185 or email
  9. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

  10. Capt.Sensible

    Capt.Sensible Well-Known Member

    dbf likes this.
  11. geoff501

    geoff501 Achtung Feind hört mit

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  12. Roxy

    Roxy Senior Member

    WW1: Finding the Lost Battalions is on E4 at the moment.

    Capt.Sensible likes this.
  13. Capt.Sensible

    Capt.Sensible Well-Known Member

    Yes, Geoff, I did. I read it a few years ago after borrowing a hard copy from a colleague.


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