Missing Soldiers of Fromelles
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¤ Reginald George Bonney
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Translation (from Google)
Welcome to the web site of the Fromelles Discussion Group. FromellesDiscussionGroup.com was launched by amateur historians to commemorate forgotten First World War British and Australian soldiers whose remains lie at Pheasant Wood. To achieve this goal subsequent to the publication of Patrick Lindsay's Fromelles: The Story of Australia's Darkest Day and to highlight unnecessary delay in the recovery of these remains, the group has lobbied Government to take decisive action on this matter and continually insisted upon the adoption of world's best practice when investigating the burial pits which have only been discovered comparatively recently.
The publication of an article titled "Red Tape May Delay WWI Diggers' Reburial" on 7th February, 2008, provided impetus to the creation of the group and led to members calling upon the Commonwealth War Graves Commission to implement the treaties it has negotiated with affiliate nations since the end of the conflict, as these Agreements manifestly empower the organization to take on responsibility for exhuming, identifying and reburying war dead, regardless of what theatre of operations such personnel fought in during the Great War.
Members of the Fromelles Discussion Group believe these instruments, together with the Charter and supplement of the War Graves Commission, require the organization to protect the rights of our war dead under international law and does so to expedite the process of recovery which after all is the main reason the institution was established. Exhuming the forgotten soldiers of Pheasant Wood will probably be time-consuming, costly and to some extent inconclusive, but the fact remains that each body should be individually recovered, identified if possible and reburied in a way that bestows upon them the greatest honour in order to recognize their sacrifice.
Toward this end the Fromelles Discussion Group intends to continue to lobby Government and the various agencies involved in examining this historic battlefield site to ensure the archaeological team hired to locate, exhume and re-inter the remains of these missing soldiers, by embracing professional standards and in a way which is in keeping with the wishes of the families of the deceased and the expectations of the community at large without unnecessary impediment by bureaucracy.
Currently there is a great deal of attention being given to the Western Front and landmark battles for the AIF like Fromelles, Bullecourt, Messines, Villers-Bretonneux, Hamel and the advance to the Hindenburg Line, will gain more prominence in the public mind in the future and be accorded their rightful place in Australia's military history and the Fromelles Discussion Group will do what it can to give voice to the missing to encourage this.
Distributed to major print and broadcast news outlets in Australia and overseas, the material contained on this web site represents the combined efforts of a number of group members, who work collaboratively to disseminate this information and to facilitate the exchange of ideas worldwide.
Group members keep the authorities fully informed of its activities, thoughts and recommendations and retains The Hon. Kevin Rudd MP the Prime Minister of Australia, The Hon. Joel FitzGibbon MP the Minister for Defence, The Hon. Warren Snowdon MP the Minister for Defence Science and Personnel, The Hon. Alan Griffin MP the Minister for Veteran Affairs, and The Friends of the Fifteenth Brigade, on its mailing list and furnishes copies of its Discussion Papers to a number of national agencies, foreign dignitaries and associations electronically. The Returned Services League of Australia and its State Branches, Roger Lee the current head of the Australian Army History Unit and mainstream media outlets in Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Britain, fall within this category.
The first Discussion Paper displayed on this site was prepared to demand greater transparency with respect to the investigation of the burial pits. The second, to raise aspects of the Commonwealth War Grave Commission's treaty obligations and the third, to contrast current policy with respect to exhumation and recovery, with what is actually stated in the treaties already mentioned.
Though humble in its beginnings, FromellesDiscussionGroup.com has led the way in encouraging consideration of the missing at Pheasant Wood, in commemorating the sacrifice of the 5th Division AIF during what has been described as an ill-fated diversion at Fromelles and in informing the public about what is regarded as best practice in forensic archaeology and the methodologies that should be applied in circumstances such as are found on this particular battlefield.
The casualty figures alone tell a large part of the story of the First AIF in France but only when viewed in the context of the missing and their exploits, do such accounts take on a personal dimension and show us the human face of war. The losses during the Battle of Fromelles in particular and the Western Front in general, were horrendous and that is why books like that published by Ellis, Bean, Corfield and Lindsay are so important. Not just to document the incredible achievements of the men involved, to decry the battle as a wasteful strategic and military failure by an outmoded command structure, or to produce feelings of regret or disappointment, or play on a national sense of despair with respect to the enormity of the tragedy, BUT BECAUSE THE MISSING OF THE SOMME ON BOTH SIDES REQUIRE MORE THAN JUST TO BE GIVEN A PLACE IN THE NATIONAL MYTHOLOGY OF THEIR RESPECTIVE COUNTRIES.
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