In a wonderful vindication of the adage, the pen has outlived the sword at Pheasant Wood, site of the mass grave of the missing soldiers of Fromelles, and is poised to write the final chapter of this sad but fascinating story.
This remarkably preserved fountain pen was found with the remains of one of the missing men amongst the carnage at Pheasant Wood. What a powerful symbol it is. This gentle object is redolent of the personal stories of these long-forgotten souls: it hints at their stories yet to be told.
It was the pen that finally relocated the Fromelles missing: the relentless research of Lambis Englezos and his supporters and the books and articles calling for the authorities to examine his claims that finally convinced them to act.
It will be the pen recording the marvels of modern science that will finally allow us to identify the missing soldiers and give them the dignity of a named, individual grave.
But concern is growing at the tardiness by the authorities in taking DNA samples from the relatives of the missing to assist in the identification of the remains. Many of these relatives are elderly. It would be an unforgivable missed opportunity if they were to leave us before they have given their DNA.
The remains have now been recovered. Why the delay in proceeding to the next step in the identification process?