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.
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