The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) website remembering Fromelles now includes an informative video on the progress of the excavation of the mass graves at Pheasant Wood.
Included in the video is an interview with Australian archaeologist Ambika Flavel, a member of Oxford Archaeology (OA), the team carrying out the excavations and exhumations. The video also shows some of the techniques used by the OA team and examples of some of the artefacts collected so far, including a return train ticket from Freemantle to Perth!
The video then takes you on site to the new Fromelles cemetery which is under construction. Click here to view the video.
The CWGC latest newsletter also gives a progress report on the preparation underway to complete the cemetery:
Although planting up the new cemetery at Fromelles is still some way in the future, rose and plant stock for the borders are already being brought on at two selected nurseries in France and Belgium. Fromelles project manager David Richardson went to see how the plants were coming along.
‘The stock is in good condition with good rooting. It’s a fine balance between having good root structure and the plants being pot-bound, so we are using larger sized pots than usual. This will make transport a bit more difficult but will ensure that the cemetery will look its best on opening next summer.
‘The roses to be used are ‘Remembrance’, a Commission favourite. Flowering stems have been cut back this year to allow the plants to become really well established for next years planting. The plants are all being container grown and will be planted out following the completion of the site in spring 2010.
‘Because time will be limited between the completion of the burials and the opening in July we will be turfing the whole site rather than the usual method of sowing. The turf we will be using is also being contract grown.’
Preparing the 300 or so ‘war pattern’ headstones needed for the new cemetery at Fromelles will be a long job and work has already begun with cutting and shaping the blanks at the Albion Quarry at Portland, Dorset, in the United Kingdom.
The stone is Broadcroft Whitbed best memorial quality, the type used for all our Portland headstones, and a sufficient supply had to be reserved some time ago. The blanks for Fromelles are being cut extra-long to allow the cemetery surfaces to be built up around them. Once cut and finished, the blanks will be shipped to our workshops in France for engraving using the Commission’s own computer controlled Incisograph system.
If you are interested in receiving the CWGC monthly remembering Fromelles newsletter click here and sign up.
The Families and Friends of the First AIF thanks the Australian, UK and French governments for affording Australian and British soldiers buried in mass graves at Pheasant Wood by German soldiers following the Battle of Fromelles on 19/20 July 1916 dignified individual reburials in a new CWGC cemetery at Fromelles, and applauds the joint decision to DNA test the remains at exhumation and use every reasonable method to attempt identification of each soldier.