July 2010 – Fromelles
The Fromelles Military Cemetery
The opening ceremony of the new Fromelles Military Cemetery took place today, 19 July. See the following articles (from the BBC News website) for more details:
Prince Charles attends last Fromelles soldier reburial
Fromelles dead offer reminder of 'preciousness of life'
There is also a documentary, WWI: Finding the Lost Battalions, about the finds on Channel 4 tonight at 8pm.
January 2010 – Fromelles
New Fromelles (Pheasant Wood) Military Cemetery
The first of 250 British and Australian servicemen recovered from mass graves during archeological excavations in 2008, have been reburied. The men fell during the Battle of Fromelles in Northern France in July 1916 and were originally buried by the Germans.
A new Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery has been opened to accept the bodies - the first new cemetery in over 50 years. Further details, including video reports, can be found on the BBC News website.
March 14th 2009 – Geneva
WW1 records discovered at Red Cross HQ
There has been an incredible chance discovery of millions of First World War records at the headquarters of the Red Cross in Geneva. They offer historians and researchers the tantalising possibility of being able to locate the exact time and place of death of many of the dead and missing from the First World War. The records were gathered by the Allied and Central Powers' armies during the conflict and sent to Geneva where archivists hand-wrote the detail on paper record cards. They had remained hidden within the archive until the historian, Peter Barton, retreived them during his enquiries into the identity of hundreds of Allied remains found near Fromelles in Flanders.
It is hoped that the records will be digitised and made available online by 2014, the centenary of the beginning of the War. The full story can be found on the BBC News website.
October 13th 2008 – France
The Seine-Nord canal
The Daily Express reports today on the Seine-Nord canal project and how it may affect half-a-dozen CWGC cemeteries. Plans are yet to be finalised, but it is worth remembering that whatever route the canal takes, it will undoubtedly unearth a great deal more of the fallen.
The full story can be found at this link.
July 2nd 2008 – London
New Lloyd's memorial unveiled
On 2nd July 2008, Lloyd's of London's new war memorial was unveiled by His Royal Highness The Duke of Gloucester and Lord Levene of Portsoken, Chairman of Lloyds. The memorial, in the form of two inscribed stone tablets either side of the 1922 Lloyds Building Facade on Leadenhall Streets, commemorates 434 of the insurance market's employees killed in the First and Sond World Wars. The ceremony was led by The Lord Bishop of London with music from The Band of the Blues and Royals and the State Trumpeters.
Further information can be found on the Lloyd's website.
Photo: Mark Sluman.
June 2nd 2008 – Fromelles
Remains found at WW1 "mass grave"
The BBC has reported that archeologists have discovered human remains at a suspected mass grave that may hold up to 400 British and Australian soldiers, lost at the Battle of Fromelles in 1916. In total, 5000 Australians were killed, injured or captured during this battle, with around 2000 lives lost in the first 27 hours of fighting. Some 1500 British soldiers were also killed.
The dig is taking place at a location close to the Australian Memorial Park. Further details, including video reports, can be found here and here.
March 16th 2008 – General
It has been announced that France's last surviving veteran of World War One, Lazare Ponticelli, has died at the age of 110. The full BBC report can be found here.
At time of writing this leaves just nine WWI veterans worldwide, including three British, one Canadian, one American, one Hungarian, two Italians and one Turk. The last German veteran died in January of this year.
February 15th 2008 – Ypres Salient
First findings from the "Vampire Dugout"
The BBC reports today that archeologists have begun to explore the Vampire Dugout (see March 17 entry below) in the Ypres Salient. The 40ft entrance shaft has been excavated, and it is believed that the surrounding tunnels are still intact, although it will take some time to drain them of silt and water. The full story, including video reports, can be found here.
July 31st 2007 – Vimy Ridge
Discovery of the "lost army"
Historians from Glasgow University's Archaeology Centre for Battlefield Studies have announced the discovery of the remains of up to 399 British and Commonwealth soldiers who were killed during the Battle of Fromelles in 1916. The soldiers - from the British 61st and Australian 5th Divisions - were buried by the Germans but the cemetery site was lost after the war. Research in German military archives has now revealed their resting place and initial surveys have identified several large burial pits.
If confirmed, this is a major find as the largest discovery of remains up to now has been 27 men in 1998 at Arras. Indeed, there is speculation that a new cemetery might have to be opened to bury them.
For more details, read this article from the Sunday Telegraph.
March 29th 2007 – General
Travellers using SpeedFerries' Dover to Boulogne service should be aware that, as of 29 March 2007, the embarkation point has been changed to Dover Western Docks (known as the Hoverport).
For further information, visit www.speedferries.com.
March 17th 2007 – Ypres Salient
Discovery of "Vampire Dugout"
Archaeologists in the Salient have made another stunning rediscovery near Ieper - a massive tunnel and dugout system constructed by British units as a Brigade Headquarters following the capture of Passchendaele ridge in early 1918. Initial investigations have revealed a tunnel complex extending 800m x 600m at 40ft below the surface. It is thought that the sobriquet, “Vampire Dugout”, was given to the system as its exposed position meant that re-supply could only be carried out under cover of darkness. This site hopes to have further details and pictures of this important find shortly. In the meantime for further information visit http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/6451381.stm.
February 19th 2007 – Ypres Salient
Hill 60 Tea Rooms & Restaurant
Sadly, the small museum at Hill 60 has closed and the collection dispersed. A new café, the Hill 60 Brasserie and Tea Rooms (below), has taken its place and will open in time for the spring/summer tourist season.
Photo: Mark Sluman.