Australia — More Battle of Fromelles Diggers identified

Min­is­ter for Defence Sci­ence and Per­son­nel and Min­is­ter for Vet­er­ans’ Affairs, War­ren Snow­don, said a fur­ther 14 World War One Aus­tralian sol­diers who fought at the Bat­tle of Fromelles in France have been iden­ti­fied.

Mr Snow­don said the sol­diers were orig­i­nal­ly from the New South Wales, Vic­to­ria, Queens­land and South Aus­tralia [see list attached below] and were among 250 Aus­tralian and British WW1 sol­diers recov­ered from Pheas­ant Wood in France in 2009.

“I am pleased to announce today that a Joint Iden­ti­fi­ca­tion Board held on 4 April 2011, has iden­ti­fied these 14 sol­diers by name,” Mr Snow­don said.

“This is very sig­nif­i­cant. These lat­est 14 sol­diers bring the total num­ber of Aus­tralians iden­ti­fied by name at Fromelles to 110. Of the 250 Aus­tralian and British WWI sol­diers, 100 Aus­tralians remain unnamed along with 2 uniden­ti­fied British sol­diers. Anoth­er 38 graves are marked ‘Known unto God.’

“We are deter­mined to iden­ti­fy as many of these brave Aus­tralians as pos­si­ble. We are encour­aged by the suc­cess, made pos­si­ble by the large num­ber of extend­ed fam­i­ly mem­bers, both in Aus­tralia and Britain, who have pro­vid­ed DNA sam­ples to assist with iden­ti­fi­ca­tion.

“The Bat­tle of Fromelles is recog­nised as one of the worst days in Australia’s mil­i­tary his­to­ry and was the first major bat­tle fought by the AIF in France. The 5th Aus­tralian Divi­sion suf­fered over 5500 casu­al­ties (dead and wound­ed) and many of those killed remain unac­count­ed for almost a cen­tu­ry after the bat­tle.”

The Com­mon­wealth War Graves Com­mis­sion will now erect new head­stones with the iden­ti­fied men’s details and they will be ded­i­cat­ed on 19 July this year dur­ing the annu­al com­mem­o­ra­tion of the Bat­tle of Fromelles.

The Chief of Army, Lieu­tenant Gen­er­al Ken Gille­spie, praised the efforts of the Fromelles Project team, who have made con­tact with the rel­a­tives of the new­ly iden­ti­fied sol­diers this week.

“The addi­tion­al iden­ti­fi­ca­tions demon­strates the tenac­i­ty and ded­i­ca­tion of a won­der­ful team and also demon­strates how the lat­est sci­en­tif­ic meth­ods and great research can pro­duce out­stand­ing results,” Lieu­tenant Gen­er­al Gille­spie said.

“While iden­ti­fi­ca­tion of remains is an extreme­ly com­plex process, we are hope­ful that we will iden­ti­fy more sol­diers in com­ing years. It is impor­tant that we are able to iden­ti­fy these sol­diers who made the ulti­mate sac­ri­fice and assist in giv­ing clo­sure to the fam­i­lies.

“The involve­ment of the fam­i­lies of those dig­gers that remain unac­count­ed for has been vital to this process. We cur­rent­ly have almost 3000 fam­i­ly mem­bers’ details in our records but we still need more. If you think you might be relat­ed to a sol­dier who remains unac­count­ed for from the Bat­tle of Fromelles, please get in con­tact with the Army.”

The Army’s Fromelles Project team can be con­tact­ed by phon­ing 1800 019 090 or by access­ing their web­site at www.army.gov.au/Fromelles.

Press release
Min­is­te­r­i­al Sup­port and Pub­lic Affairs,
Depart­ment of Defence,
Can­ber­ra, Aus­tralia

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