Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Fromelles: the missing

On Monday May 3rd Lambis Englezos and Tim Whitford gave a powerful presentation at Ashburton Library about their extraordinary project to find, recover and honour Australia's missing Diggers from the 1916 Battle of Fromelles in France.

With a continuous visual display of historical photographs, land maps and the archaeological work that has been carried out at the site, Lambis and Tim shared the telling of the story of the battle and the amazing piecing together of information which has led to the recovery, identification and formal reburial of the missing soldiers at a new war cemetery.

The sharp instincts, tenacity, remarkable research skills and sense of respect shown by Lambis Englezos and Tim Whitford underpin an engrossing and ultimately successful quest.

It is a deeply moving and important story.

While there were aspects of grim detail and serious contemplation of what happened at Fromelles, both Tim and Lambis have a strong sense of humour and there were lighter moments and laughter throughout the talk.

The highlight came at the conclusion of question time when a woman at the back of the audience spoke. She, too, had been involved in this project. She said her DNA had been taken and that her lost relative had been found and named; with a beaming face, she held up a photograph of a young soldier. Everyone clapped and cheered.

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