Friday, 24 April 2009

MoD names WWI mass grave troops

An interesting article on the BBC News website:

MoD names WWI mass grave troops

The Ministry of Defence has released the names of dozens of World War I soldiers they believe may be buried in a mass grave found in France last year.

Burial pits, which date from the Battle of Fromelles on 19 July, 1916, could also contain the remains of at least 20 Scottish soldiers.

Among those named are members of the Cameron Highlanders and the Royal Warwickshire Regiment.

More than 7,000 British and Australian servicemen died in the two-day battle.

  • Private John Adam - Royal Warwickshire Regiment - from Grangemouth
  • Sergeant Andrew Allan - Royal Warwickshire Regiment - from Bannockburn
  • Private John Bowie - Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry - from Aberdeen
  • Private Mitchell Collins - Royal Warwickshire Regiment - from Kennoway
  • Private John Cumming - Cameron Highlanders - from Inverness
  • Private Alexander Dryburgh - Royal Warwickshire Regiment - from Werness
  • Private George Galloway - Royal Warwickshire Regiment - from Buckhaven
  • Private Alex Gray - Royal Warwickshire Regiment - Wormit, Fife
  • Private Alexander Loudon - Cameron Highlanders - from Lanarkshire
  • Lance Corporal David Marshall - Royal Warwickshire Regiment - from Perth
  • Private Joseph McGuire - Cameron Highlanders - from Glasgow
  • Lance Corporal John Melville - Royal Warwickshire Regiment - from Perth
  • Private James Melvin - Cameron Highlanders - from Abington
  • Private James Mitchell - Cameron Highlanders - from Coldstream
  • Private Maxwell Mitchell - Royal Warwickshire Regiment - from Falkirk
  • Private Ernest Paton - Royal Warwickshire Regiment - from Forfar
  • Lance Corporal William Richardson - Royal Warwickshire Regiment - from Perth
  • Private William Robertson - Cameron Highlanders - from Edinburgh
  • Corporal David Simpson - Royal Warwickshire Regiment - from Kirkcaldy
  • Private John Smith - Royal Warwickshire Regiment - from Forfar
  • Private David Thom - Royal Warwickshire Regiment - from Forfar
  • As part of the identification process, experts will take DNA samples from the bodies and try to find a family link with the help of the soldiers' relatives.

    The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) will begin the process of exhuming and identifying about 400 of the bodies next month.

    The soldiers were buried by their German counterparts in the aftermath of the battle and most of their identifying tags removed.

    A careful cross-referencing of casualty records has already enabled the MoD to produce a pool of possible identities for the soldiers.

    The commission aims to identify the bodies and give them a military burial at a new site near Fromelles, which will be the first war cemetery constructed in 50 years.

    The soldiers will be buried with full military honours, initially as unknown soldiers, then a panel of experts from the Australia and the UK will meet in 2010 to consider the evidence gathered about the soldiers' identities.

    A spokesman for the CWGC said: "The list of names has been released because we need the families to come forward and register their details with the project.

    "It's a slow, forensic process, we have to first check whether the DNA is viable at the burial site and then test it against the families.

    "The graves will then be marked when positive identifications are made.

    "We will ask the families what they want on the headstones and we will take care of that."

    The commission said the new cemetery would be "worthy of the sacrifices made by these men and a place of dignified pilgrimage and remembrance for generations to come."

    Details of all the men believed to have been discovered can be found on the website

    1 comment:

    1. David

      I am afraid much of what you have published about Fromelles is entirely inaccurate because it is based on incorrect information supplied by the CWGC and MoD.

      There has been no "careful cross-referencing of casualty records" as alleged. The CWGC simply pushed a computer button and spewed out a list of soldiers killed on 19/20 July 1916 who happened to be commemorated on the Loos Memorial.

      This "careful cross-referencing of casualty records" has resulted in the inclusion of no less than twenty three non Fromelles casualties being included in the List.

      Twelve of those casualties are from the 6th & 7th Battalions of the Cameron Highlanders who were part of the 15th Scottish Division (absolutely nothing to do with the 61st (2nd South Midland) Division).

      Th 6th & 7th Batns of the Camerons were in the line 35kms south of Fromelles in the Hulluch sector of the Loos Front. Their casualties are well documented in their war diaries and the histories of the Battalions.

      It is disgraceful that the expectations of relatives such as Mrs Lynn Wilkinson are being raised that their relatives may be found - in this case Pte James Mitchell 7th Camerons - when their relatives died absolutely nowhere near Fromelles whatsoever.