For your information, History Week is coming - but feel free to have a look at our Branch activity anytime - our exhibition at the Oakleigh Monash Federation Centre. It's open now and available to view 10am - 5 pm Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Final Reminder - Lecture Cancellation We have unfortunately had to cancel one of our upcoming public lectures, 'Myths of Australian Military History' presented by Dr Craig Stockings on Friday 15 October. Dr Stockings has received a research grant to travel overseas and can no longer present the lecture at the Shrine. Our most sincere apologies for any convenience this may create.
Wednesday 27 October, 5:30pm
Reporting on Fromelles
Presenter: Mr James Talia
Almost 2000 Australians lost their lives in one terrible night at Fromelles during the First World War. The bodies of up to 191 men lay in an unknown grave until 2008, when the burial site was discovered at Pheasant Wood. The discovery and reburial of these men attracted widespread media attention. James Talia is a Senior Reporter in the Melbourne newsroom at Channel Nine and from 2006 was Nine's European Correspondent. Throughout James' time in Europe he reported on the developments at Fromelles. In this presentation he reflects on how this remarkable story unfolded.
Friday 29 October 12:30pm
Sculpting the Light Horse
Presenter: Mr Peter Corlett OAM
Peter Corlett is a leading Australian figurative sculptor. He has been commissioned to undertake a number of major memorial works with particular links to the commemoration of Australian service in times of war, including the Cobbers Memorial to the Battle of Fromelles located on the Shrine Reserve. This presentation focuses on the creation of the sculpture for the Australian Light Horse Memorial located at the Park of the Australian Soldier, Israel. Join Peter Corlett as he discusses the research and design he undertook to create the bronze horse and rider sculpture.
Sunday 7 November, 2:00pm
Only A Donkey with author Celeste Walters
Join children's author Celeste Walters as she takes children on an exciting journey following the adventures of a brave little donkey. These stories are ideal for children aged between 5 - 8 years old and families are encouraged to attend together.
On Armistice Day (11/11/2010) at 16.30 hrs the Last Post Association organises the seventh edition of the 'The Great War Remembered' - concert in the Ypres Saint-Martin's Cathedral.
This concert contributes to the commemoration by turning time back 90 years and to submerge the audience in the atmosphere of the Great War through instrumental and vocal music, in combination with original World War I images.
No less than 200 participants will bring their talents: tenor Sean Ruane, the Royal Ypriana Harmony, the Combined Fire & Rescue Service Bands, together with famous choirs: Loretto School, Beauvarlet Choir Koksijde, Roeselaars Kamerkoor and the Choir of Dartford. The 1.250 attendees literally experience a musical evocation of the Great War, in the fabulous setting of the Ypres cathedral.
Tickets are only available through the Ypres Tourist Office:
The Last Post Association is an independent, voluntary, non-profit-making organisation. It was the Association that first founded the Last Post Ceremony back in 1928, and it is the Association that is still responsible for the day-to-day organisation of this unique act of homage. It also administers the Last Post Fund, which provides the financial resources necessary to support the ceremony.
Even though our activities are progressing at a slower rate nowadays, we are still making significant headway with our task.
The searching of the WW2 GRO lists is progressing well and we have almost finished checking the batches of 'other ranks' names with the 'W' names now being issued. Obviously, some earlier names are still out there being checked but soon we shall be into the officers, Royal Navy and the RAF. I was informed recently that our first WW2 accepted case which resulted from this search is coming through the system.
At the same time, our parallel search of SDGW is now well underway. A significant number of new cases have been found to date making this a most valuable exercise. Also, the number of CWGC scanning errors detected is now running into the thousands! All are checked and corrected by CWGC making this another valuable contribution to ensuring proper commemoration for these men and women.
If anyone who has an unfinished batch of WW2 or SDGW names is having problems completing their searches, please let John or I know. This is still a spare time activity and it is not meant to be a burden for anyone.
Our relationship with the Office of Australian War Graves is blossoming nicely and we are on very good terms. A recent email from Major General Paul Stephens (Director of OAWG) even started to refer to our efforts as a 'joint exercise'. They are fully co-operating with us and are still wading through our 300 or so cases from both world wars.
Like CWGC, the Australians operate an understaffed office and have warned us that matters will be slow as they are experiencing a period of unexpected staff shortage due to illness and extra work expected due to their recent election. However, they have cleared about seventy of our cases to date and these are making their way through the system at CWGC now. They are a mixture of WW1 and WW2 men (and one woman) and include both in-service and post-discharge deaths. None of our cases has been rejected so far.
CWGC and MoD Problems
You will recall that CWGC had a serious software problem which interrupted things for about six months. Well, all that is now sorted and everything is moving again at their end. However, there also seems to have been an unusual hold-up at MoD (Army) in recent times as well. This again is probably due to staff shortage in the personnel department which deals with these matters and their other tasks relating to compassionate issues resulting from Afghanistan obviously come first.
The good news is that things seem to have picked up speed again and, as I mentioned in a recent email, CWGC has just received a batch of about sixty accepted cases from the army. These are now being processed and will soon start to appear.
The RAF and Royal Marines have continued to respond quickly but they have few cases to adjudicate upon. The Royal Navy has been traditionally very slow but even they have passed recently quite a few of the large number of outstanding WW1 naval cases we have in hand.
On occasions cases are delayed by the need for a decision as to which memorial is to be inscribed. We are finding men who died in areas where no obvious memorial exists or where one does exist but is 'full up'. An example of such a case causing problems is that of a British soldier who died in South Africa during WW2. A decision is awaited on that one. Names are not confirmed until a memorial has been decided or an existing grave site has been inspected so there can be a considerable delay between MoD acceptance and appearance in the Debt of Honour. It is this last point in time which is taken as the final acceptance date.
During this lull, CWGC and I undertook a complete reconciliation of all outstanding cases including those put forward by IFCP on behalf of other people - over 900 separate cases. This exercise took nearly four weeks.
The end result showed exactly where every case was in the process. The vast majority were with MoD or a dominion authority and CWGC was awaiting a response. A considerable number were approved but were still going through the memorial/grave process. About half a dozen had queries (over eligibility etc) awaiting resolution by the authorities and, finally, it showed that four cases had been eaten by the email gremlins and they had to be re-submitted after a year of being in limbo.
Recently, you will have received the notification about the new Aerial View facility on the IFCP website.
This has been very well received by everyone and is already showing high usage (I can tell how many times each of the cemeteries is viewed). New cemeteries are being added all the time and we have completed now all the sites in France - even down to the lonely churchyards containing one unidentified casualty. The direction finding facility will follow shortly.
Use this facility as much as you like (It's free!). There will be other additions to the site over the coming months which hopefully will provide data not readily available elsewhere. All suggestions for additions are welcome.
The idea is to increase traffic to the site and, at the same time, increase awareness of IFCP. Again, I stress that the website is not paid for in any way from IFCP funds.
There is little to say on this point other than we have a very healthy reserve at the moment which will enable us to complete out initial aim of finding non-coms through searching the major casualty lists that still exist. We are going to be able to continue for some time to come searching out those individuals who have been out in the cold for far too long.
Our full MoD grant has been paid to us so there is no danger of it falling to the government's expenditure axe. It is down to us to use this money responsibly to achieve our aims so please read on...
Up till now, IFCP has only been able to fund cases where the man/woman died in service but now we have found a way to deal with those many thousands (potentially) who died as a result of their service but after discharge from the forces. John and I have discussed this and we have come up with a scheme which will, at least partially, overcome some of the financial issues attached to these cases.
There is no list of service personnel who died after service of related wounds or illness so cases tend to be found individually by someone researching their family, a regiment or a war memorial etc. With advice, many such 'finders' happily obtain the death certificate (almost always an essential piece of evidence) and put the case forward to CWGC/MoD - often through IFCP. However, in many instances, the finder is unwilling or, more often, unable to pay for this document (currently £9.25 for an England and Wales certificate). We hope we have found a way to help with this financial barrier in many cases - though not in all.
From today, we are going to operate a reimbursement scheme for such cases. To comply with our restrictions from MoD and to stick to the aims stated in our original proposal, we have had to come up with a slightly bureaucratic set of rules but we must avoid wasting our finite funds and cannot be seen to be paying for someone's family research! The basic system will be as follows.
IFCP will reimburse the cost of an England & Wales or Northern Irish death certificate at the current rate if an application is received which complies with all our rules (which will be supplied to an applicant). A flat sum of £4 will be paid for Scottish death certificate entries obtained from Scotland's People (which are as good as but cheaper than a full certificate). The basic rules are:
1) The scheme is not retrospective and only applies to certificates dated 1st September 2010 onwards.
2) The certificate must be purchased by the applicant in the first place.
3) The applicant must submit all evidence to IFCP to see if there is a case to answer and if there is a reasonable chance of success. If we agree that there is, the original certificate must be sent to IFCP for retention and IFCP will process the case.
4) IFCP will refund the cost of the certificate upon receipt. A refund will not depend on the case being accepted by MoD - simply on us believing that it is a valid case. Therefore IFCP will bear the risk of it being rejected.
5) The case will become an official IFCP case with the applicant recorded as the finder.
6) The scheme will only apply to UK service personnel cases (including British personnel in the Indian forces and those from colonial forces).
The scheme will NOT apply to cases where the certificate is dated before 1st September, where the applicant wants to retain the original certificate or where they wish to process the case themselves (which is obviously their prerogative). IFCP will happily continue to process such cases for the finder as before if they wish. At the moment, any refund will only be in pounds sterling as we cannot pay sums in foreign currencies so this will limit it to people with UK bank accounts or sterling accounts overseas. A full list of the rules is available upon request.
Jim Grant will be helping by filtering all cases involving Scottish certificates but otherwise all applications should come to me via the IFCP website or on firstname.lastname@example.org. As always, John is available to give advice to anyone wanting to know if they have a valid case.
No doubt, we will encounter a few problems with this scheme and possibly even a few 'chancers' but it seems the only way we can legitimately help to bring in more of these forgotten men. Please let any of your contacts who may be interested know about the scheme. Our funds are not endless and, at some point, the scheme will be closed but we shall do our best whilst we can.
It only remains, on behalf of John and myself, to say once again 'Thank You' for all your continuing help and support with the Project.
2010 was a very successful year for IFCP and I thought I would pass on to you the net result of our activities during the year.
IFCP submitted 613 non-com cases during the year - the last on 31st December!
During the year we had 337 cases accepted and none rejected.
We still have 838 IFCP cases trekking through the systems in the UK, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa. Unfortunately, the processes everywhere seemed to have slowed down in the past six months. Maybe, 2011 will see this improve.
Thank you for all your help. Without you, those 337 men and women would still be out in the cold.
From Andrew Kilsby 17th March 2011
For those interested in Australian military aviation as well as Australian aviation in general, I highly recommend the exhibition at the Royal Historical Society of Victoria in A'Beckett Street in the City. I was able to get over to the opening today and there are some interesting images, stories and rare gems on display, from the earliest days at Point Cook. It also gives you a chance to see the historic drill hall which headquarters the RHSV.