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more ammo.........

Discussion in 'Australia' started by kongman, Jul 5, 2009.

  1. kongman

    kongman F1 Rookie

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  3. creafield

    creafield Formula Junior

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    #2 creafield, Jul 5, 2009
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 7, 2017
    Greetings Kong

    This was the state of play a couple of weeks ago when I was there. The two pits, covered by green air covers are the excavation pits, a new pit is being started in the foreground. The actual site is in a hollow (relatively speaking) right on the edge of Fromelles, about 600m from the old German frontline. When I was there there was a quite a familiar (to me) smell of dead animal decay.
    It certainly appears to be a professionally run excavation, and the people running it seem very careful. Note the white exclusion suits the excavators are wearing. They appeared to be taking some remains out when I was there and I could not question their reverence in handling them .. perhaps this is why it is taking so long.

    Looking at these photos perhaps does not convey the depth of emotion that one feels. I personally could not take photos at the time the remains were being removed .. something had got into my eyes.

    The new cemetery is just over the road from the mass grave, the hoarding is covering the work.

    VC Corner cemetery is next to the VC Corner cemetery with the "Cobbers" statue. The cemetery was made after the war and contains just over 400 Australians buried under the two white crosses in two mass graves. it is close to the old Australian frontline, a little into no-man's land. Unusually not one of the bodies could be identified. The Memorial wall lists 1296 Australians killed in the space of 24 hours, July 19 1917, who have no known grave

    In total 5533 Australians were killed, wounded and missing on that day. By far the worst loss for Australia, before or since, in a single day.

    Regards
    Philip C
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  4. moretti

    moretti Four Time F1 World Champ
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    hi Phil, any reason for this ?

    I would have thought they would have had dog tags or something similar
     
  5. kongman

    kongman F1 Rookie

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    looks like the papers are just tryin to beat up a story ......but they still are cheap bastards
     
  6. creafield

    creafield Formula Junior

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    #5 creafield, Jul 7, 2009
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 7, 2017
    Greetings John and K'Man

    Australians had two identity discs, attached by a thin leather neck cord. I find it hard to believe, have never read why, but the discs were compressed cardboard. One was meant to be removed from a dead soldier, taken back to Australian lines to record death, and the other stayed with soldier to identify. Sounds very orderly and neat however the frontline at Fromelles didn't move from 1916 until 1918. Bodies were not recovered by the War Graves Unit until 1919 ... the discs had disappeared.

    Many soldiers had incredibly severe injuries from shrapnel. I found a 2kg piece in the battlefield at Bullecourt along with a hand grenade, an unexploded shell, 3 fuses and barbed wire. If this piece of shrapnel hit any flesh within 20m. of exploding it was doing about 1500fps ... there wouldn't be anything left of what it went through. There are many graphic descriptions in war diaries of what shrapnel can do, as well as many photos.

    Looking after the the Australian War Graves from every war, except Vitenam and later, is the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, which started its work in 1920. It is a Department within the British Government and its status is probably just a little less than the Royal family in the UK ... it is a revered organization, and rightly so. Virtually nobody in Australia has heard about it. All the Commonwealth countries contribute to the cost of maintaining the CWGC Cemeteries. When you consider there are 956 in Belgium and Northern France alone , each with somewhere between 1 and 30 full time workers the cost of excavating the Australian AND British soldiers at Fromelles was NOT a cost saving exercise (IMO).

    The other interesting thing about this part of France is the number of hot bikes and cars that come over for some "deserted road" thrashing. We met a fellow in a Black 599 who passed us on a straight D road doing about 280kph. We met up with him in Pozieres and he reckoned the roads were too crowded in the UK and that Goodwood (September) was too damned crowded even for him .. a Pom .. he was actually a pretty good bloke. Pity about the Ashes.
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  8. Modeler

    Modeler F1 Veteran

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    Looking at the soil in Phillip's last pic, it seems a high clay content.
    Stuff must have made horrible mud when wet. Dust and grit when baked dry.
    Thank you for your posts.
    I visited Monash's battlefields following the same chronologic route he took with his daughter shortly after the war.
    It was twenty years ago though and my memories are a bit jumbled now.
     
  9. moretti

    moretti Four Time F1 World Champ
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    interesting site Phil, I see they are moving the site due to flooding
     
  10. fivesix

    fivesix Formula 3

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    im off to europe again later this year, and i am basing a fair amount of the travel on the battle fields. something i have wanted to do since i was a young boy. thanks for the posts.
     
  11. zoRob

    zoRob Formula 3

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    #9 zoRob, Jul 7, 2009
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2009
    Ive been to many of the old battlefields, graveyards and monuments out there. It was an amazing trip and i will certainly be doing it again some day.

    My Great Grandfather was shot in the head trying to take a bridge and ended up getting the Military Medal but passed away 9 days before i was born. Sadly he had to sell it after the war.
     
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  13. kongman

    kongman F1 Rookie

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    man if i was you ide would be really careful with handling that stuff .........nice pics by the way , its a dream of mine to go exploring in europe on battlefields lookin for a few odds and end .......(nothing explosive though)....stay safe man
     
  14. zoRob

    zoRob Formula 3

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    As you drive around those areas there are obviously lots of farms as it is mostly rural. In some of the yards i saw large piles of those shells that had turned up whilst plowing and the farmers simply took them back and put them on the pile as they discovered new ones :eek:

    When i went about 10 years ago there were still 'no go' areas due to unexploded bombs or mines, which i was really surprised by. A friend of mine found a German stick granade and was swinging it around until he realised what it was :eek:
     
  15. kongman

    kongman F1 Rookie

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    #12 kongman, Jul 7, 2009
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2009
    you come from the uk , they say the amount of unexploded bombs under london is supposed to be huge ...they find them on a regular basis..............would love to go to some remote part of europe and find something big, like an old tank or plane
     
  16. zoRob

    zoRob Formula 3

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    That would be cool :) Ive heard that too about London. I live about 80 miles north and we do get the odd one around here, even though we didnt get bombed much in the war as there was not much worth bombing where i live at the time. A wedding was cancelled in my city recently because someone found an old WW2 bomb shortly before it was about to start. I sometimes work in a place called Coventry which was heavily bombed during the war, ill bet that they find quite a few bombs there.

    Creafield, did you go to the battlefield with the tree as i would like to know the name if you can remember. The tree that was supposed to be standing after a battle which now has no bark. You will know the one if you have been there.
     
  17. 1ual777

    1ual777 Formula 3

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    These men died with honor and dignity; no less should ever be shown to them now.
     
  18. 360C

    360C F1 World Champ
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    That isn't going to happen. Everything was taken for scrap in the years following the war. They are now so valuable and rare that people are pulling them out from the bottom of lakes (imagine the expense) and then restoring them. You are not going to find anything sitting out in the open anywhere in Europe IMHO.


    I was in Normandy on June 6th with Obama and Co, very moving.
     
  19. kongman

    kongman F1 Rookie

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    #16 kongman, Jul 7, 2009
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    ha ..i can dream ............i think there is stuff still around , but it would be very remote or well hidden ..........and then there is the stuff that countries are selling and digging up
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  20. Birel

    Birel Formula 3

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    #17 Birel, Jul 7, 2009
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    How about this then, underwater for 60 years ! (ME109)
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  21. moretti

    moretti Four Time F1 World Champ
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  23. 360C

    360C F1 World Champ
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    Ok where the hell is that? Bugger all left but they look to be Panzer IV's

    http://www.achtungpanzer.com/panzerkampfwagen-iv.htm
     
  24. Modeler

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  25. wax

    wax Four Time F1 World Champ
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    I'm impressed by the first-hand visitor accounts, and as always, the knowledge and patriotism shared by F-Chat Oz - thank you for your insightful posts.

    Philip - in understanding how and why dogtags were cardboard - This gent may be of assistance,
    Roger Lee, Head of the Army History Unit, on (02) 6266 2204.
    http://minister.defence.gov.au/news/armynews/editions/1163/features/feature05.htm

    Here is Richard Pelvin's bio, which I'm sure some are familiar with.
    http://www.mhsa.org.au/FedCouncil_biog/pelvin_biog.htm

    Note "Research Enquiries" - from Military Historical Society of Australia site, as above
    http://www.mhsa.org.au/About.html
     
  26. kongman

    kongman F1 Rookie

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    this is in some euro country , the govt found the could make a few bucks by selling the hulks to collectors ....these where dug in the gorund and had been used as pillboxes
     
  27. creafield

    creafield Formula Junior

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    #24 creafield, Jul 8, 2009
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 7, 2017
    Greetings

    Earler someone mentioned a trip to look at the WW1 battlefields. If you have a direct relative then obviously you would look them up. However I do see quite a few people on day trips ambling around with no purpose, I think they rapidly get bored, so could I suggest that it becomes much more meaningful if you look at your local war memorial. Carefully write down the names and initials(obviously KIA) and then go to the following website . http://www.cwgc.org/debt_of_honour.asp?menuid=14 Within minutes you will know most of the important details about them. Where they are buried, where they came from and so on.

    If you want more detail then go to this site http://www.naa.gov.au/whats-on/records-releases/wwi.aspx which will give you their complete history from scans of their WW1 Records. Then it is easy with the CWGC map “Cemeteries and Memorials in Belgium and Northern France” to find where he lies. Then you buy a copy of Les Carlyon The Great War which gives a fantastic read of the France and Belgium Battles from an Australian perspective.
    After you have done all this, gone over to France and found the grave the sense of honouring the fallen diggers IMHO is far greater.

    I did it for the 6 boys from Narooma who were killed in France and Belgium. Now I have started to write a book on the boys from my old school, Sydney Grammar School, which saw 1745 enlist for WW1 and 299 killed or die from wounds. Of those 188 were killed in France and Belgium. After two years the research is about a half finished. However please don’t think I have forgotten the FCA … I STILL have a great interest in a reform of the FCA Concours judging rules.

    From my last trip in June I suggest a few very important sites for Australians and easy to get to are:

    The Bullecourt Battlefield. First and Second Battle for Bullecourt April and May 1917 and easy to get to from Bapaume, and close to the A1 Paris-Dunkirk. I am happy to give a very accurate description of what roads and tracks to take to get there and what to look out for. See the attached photo We are standing in the Australian Assembly Line, on a railway embankment. Bullecourt Church spire is just to the left of picture, about 1000m away. Albert Jacka won an MC in the sunken road to the left where the tree is for capturing 3 German officers when his pistol was jammed. The tree line in the distance was where the second German trenchline was this was heavily fortified and was called the Hindenburg line. The back of the Australian “Bullecourt Digger” memorial is on the site of the H.L. just out of Bullecourt on the left of the photo. Between the embankment and the far treeline, 10,000 Australians from the 1st, 2nd, 4th and 5th divisons were killed or wounded until the Line was taken on 16th May 1917. It is very quiet and very private here.

    Villers-Bretonneux The Australian Memorial is a must see as is Adelaide War Cemetery just on the oustkirts of V-B. From here, in 1993, the Australian Unknown Soldier was disinterred and taken to Canberra. I was lucky enough to be at the AWM for his re-burial. The Australians are remembered very much here.

    Pozieres .. The famous “Windmill site”, (photo) of which C E W Bean said “The Windmill site marks a ridge more densely sown with Australian sacrifice than any other place on earth”. And many others too numerous to mention.
    For the British a particularly emotive site is the Devonshires Cemetery (Photo). This was a trench that the 8th and 9th Devons left on 1st July 1916. 160 were killed within metres of the Trench. When the battle was over the rest of the Devons held Mametz, about 500metres away. They returned and buried their comrades in the Trench and put a marker on the site “The Devonshires held this trench, they hold it still” All the headstones are dated 1st July 1916.

    For the Canadians Vimy ridge just out of Arras. (photo)

    For the Americans the American cemetery at Bony and the joint battle with Australians at Bellicourt

    For zoRob I think the place you thinking of is Delville Wood. The site of a great South African battle in 1916. If you want more information PM me, I have many photos including the tree you are talking about .. although it does have bark.

    Scott whilst you were at Normandy, I was at Ieper at the Menin Gate.

    Wax … many thanks for those contacts. I know of the MHSA, and the work of Richard Pelvin. I believe he was involved with the identification of Sgt. John White who was MIA at Bullecourt and discovered in a field just behind the Australian Memorial in 1994. His burial at, Queant Rd Military Cemetery was attended by his daughter, who was 80, and wrote his epitaph .. “Deep peace of the quiet earth, so far from the land that gave you birth”. This website has the full story http://www.ww1westernfront.gov.au/bullecourt/22nd-battalion.html .
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  28. zoRob

    zoRob Formula 3

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    Thanks, ive looked up Delville wood and although i have been there its not the place i was thinking of. I seem to remember a tree that was the last tree standing after a battle that had no bark on it. Looking at Delville wood there seems to be the same story about the tree there so perhaps i have just got the story muddled up over time?? I have also been to the memorials in the last two pics you posted.

    I cannot remember the names of some of the places i visited so i may PM you in the future when i am planning a trip so i know where i am going if you dont mind. There was also a large red brick memorial with four 'legs' merging into one central piece (kind of like a rocket), it had the names of the soldiers around the 'legs'. I dont suppose you have a pic of that you could post please?
     

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