Friday, 25 April 2014

Another 20 Fromelles diggers identified

A further 20 Australian soldiers killed during the bloody World War I battle at Fromelles have been identified, defence officials have confirmed.

Relatives are being notified after the soldiers became the latest to be identified out of the 250 Australians and Brits recovered from a mass burial site at Pheasant Wood in northern France in 2009.

It takes to 144 the number of Australian diggers identified by a joint Australian-British program which uses DNA and other evidence.

The newly-identified soldiers are likely to have graves dedicated in their names for the first time at a ceremony in Fromelles in July.

'Defence can confirm that a further 20 Australians from the 250 Australian and British World War One soldiers recovered from a mass burial site at Pheasant Wood in France in 2009 have now been identified,' a

Department of Defence spokesman said on Thursday.

An official announcement will be made after the soldiers' families are notified.

There are still 67 Australian and two British soldiers who remain unidentified. Another 37 have been interred as 'A soldier of the Great War - Known unto God'.

The DNA identification program has now officially concluded but the army's Unrecovered War Casualties team will continue to process any new information.

'The Government and Army remain determined to identify as many of the Australians as possible,' the spokesman said.

Fromelles was the first major action involving Australian troops in France in World War I.

It was fought over July 19 and 20 in 1916 and resulted in more than 5500 Australian dead and wounded. Many of the fallen were never found.

The battle is regarded by some as the worst 24 hours in Australian military history.

In 2009 a mass grave was located in Pheasant Wood on the site where German soldiers had buried Australian and British dead.

All the bodies have now been reburied in the new Fromelles (Pheasant Wood) Military Cemetery.

Friday 25 April 2014


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