1. #1
    WWI troops found in mass grave reburied in France

    By JENNY BARCHFIELD, Associated Press Writer Jenny Barchfield, Associated Press Writer 34 mins ago

    FROMELLES, France – The remains of last of 250 Australian and British soldiers whose bodies were discovered in a mass grave were being reburied Monday on the 94th anniversary of the bloody World War I battle of Fromelles.

    Prince Charles and top Australian officials were to attend the ceremony, which marks the end of more than two years of painstaking exhumation and identification work by archaeologists.

    The families of some of the soldiers also are expected to attend Monday's event. It will see a coffin containing the remains of the last soldier carried from the site of the mass graves in a WWI-era, horse-pulled wagon to a recently built cemetery nearby, the organizers said. Prince Charles will then dedicate the new Fromelles Military Cemetery.

    An Australian amateur historian discovered the graves — which contain the largest group of Australian remains from World War I ever found — in a muddy field on the edge of a small wood in 2008, prompting an investigation by the Australian government.

    The remains appear to date from a single, famously ferocious night of fighting 90 years ago. Late on July 19, 1916, Australian forces launched the battle of Fromelles, the first Australian combat operation on the Western Front.

    More than 5,500 Australians were killed, wounded or went missing at Fromelles in under 24 hours, along with more than 1,500 British, cut down by German machine guns and artillery. German troops buried them afterward, Australian investigators say. The site, near a pockmarked battlefield, was covered over time.

    More than 23,000 Australian soldiers' bodies were never recovered for burial from World War I, according to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

    Was it a common practice in WW1 to bury the fallen enemy?
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  2. #2
    WTE_Galway's Avatar Senior Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Originally posted by Pirschjaeger:

    Was it a common practice in WW1 to bury the fallen enemy?
    Richthofen, of course, was buried with full military honors by the RAF.

    Aside from the fact that both sides tried to preserve at least some limited appearance of decency, from a pragmatic point of view what else are you going to do with hundreds of rotting bodies? You cannot let them decay and spread disease among your own troops they need burial.

    Of course many of those 23,000 missing Australians were never buried by either side. A direct hit by a large shell in the trenches did not leave much to bury and a "near miss" simply filled your trench with meters of mud and buried alive everyone in it.
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  3. #3
    Honestly I haven't read much about it but I was under the impression the locals were 'assigned' the task of clearing the battlefield of enemy bodies.

    Maybe that's WW2.
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  4. #4
    This was on last night...


    One to watch if you can...
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  5. #5
    The Great War was always somewhat of an event that seemed so distant and so long ago.
    More so than the American Civil War.
    Strange, I know.
    Then I saw some color photos of the war and just like that everything came into perspective for me.
    I couldn't believe the level of understanding that swept over me and I still can't figure it out.
    The color photos were of Passchendaele and the timeline just seemed to fall into place.
    I cannot imagine what the soldiers (and civilians) on both sides went through during that time.
    Thinking of things like this really helps me to keep things in perspective. I am humbled by their service.
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  6. #6
    Rjel's Avatar Senior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2002
    Originally posted by Choctaw111:
    The Great War was always somewhat of an event that seemed so distant and so long ago.
    I'm afraid as time marches on and WWII recedes further into the past, the same detachment we feel for other wars will overtake what we all consider a turning point in human history. When the grandchildren and possibly the great-grandchildren of the greatest generation are gone, any personal connection (even if from afar) with the event will have completely gone. Then it just becomes history.
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