Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Exhuming Aussie Diggers- the right idea?

Work is about to begin near Fromelles France to exhume approximately 400 Australian and British World War One soldiers thought to be buried in a mass grave.

The stories of the soldiers are as touching and as fascinating yas you might expect. The research done by Lambis Englezos is deserving of an OBE in my view. The technology in use is also interesting and of course DNA investigations form the corner stone of this project. But here's where I become a little concerned.

"We don't even know if it is going to work yet," Peter Jones, a British DNA consultant to the project, said yesterday.

"If the DNA is there and in good condition, then you get profiles from all of the samples from the grave. But I don't think you are going to get that.

So despite the fact they are going to exhume these dead soldiers, there are concerns that it ight be for nothing. Not only are they uncertain about the DNA validity, but they are short on for decendants willing to offer their DNA:
...fewer than 15 British families have registered to take part in the project and an 11th-hour public campaign has now been launched in Britain to try to ignite interest in the Fromelles discovery, coax potential relatives to register and increase the chances of individual identification.

THis may be due to a less than ideal PR/advertising campaign, but I's like tohttp://www.blogger.com/post-create.g?blogID=5856979 suggest that some descendants hold the same view that I do- that we ought to leave the dead as they were.
These are a mix of young men from Britain and Australia. They went to war as volunteers, fought side by side and died together. In the fields of Fromelles they have lain side by side for 90+ years and it is my view there they should remain.
While I am always interested in this sort of forensic work, I wonder if this isn't possibly desecration. There may be a prevailing view that these men deserve a proper burial, but I'm of the view they have already received one:

The Germans, to their credit, gathered the dead and buried them in mass graves under the shadow of Fromelles’s church. Before they did so, they removed the identification tags, recorded the names of the dead and sent the tags back to Australia.

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Work Underway To Identify Fromelles Fallen [via The Age]

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posted by thr at 8:23 am


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