400 WW1 Soldiers Bodies Recovered
In a quiet corner of a French field lies the remains of over 400 World War 1 Soldiers, stripped of their identity tags these mass graves are evidence of a very little documented slaughter. The soldier’s deeds gone, forgotten, they fell in their thousands – now nine decades after the First World War the bodies of hundreds of British and Australian war dead are to be recovered from a mass grave in northern France.
This recovery represents one of the largest exhumations in recent history, archaeologists, including key staff from Scotland, will today begin the operation on behalf of the British and Australian governments, supervised by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC).
The bodies are of the soldiers that fought at The Battle of Fromelles, a five month opperation has begun on what is one of the largest modern mass graves that was not the result of genocide.
The Battle of Fromelles began on 19 July, 1916 and was designed to divert German troops away from the Battle of the Somme some 50 miles to the south. A 27-year-old corporal by the name of Adolf Hitler was among those on the battlefield.
Within 24 hours, the 61st British Division saw 1,547 of its men killed, wounded, or taken prisoner. The 5th Australian Division suffered even greater losses, with 5,533 casualties, some 1,780 of whom were killed.
Peter Francis, spokesman for the CWGC, said: “We’ve had some very emotional moments… we know we are going to come face to face with the human cost of the Great War.”
“The challenge is always, when relatives are involved, to make sure that the process is done in such a way that will be respectful. The ultimate goal of this is to give individual burials to people who have sacrificed their lives in war for us – we need to reciprocate that.”