17th April 2019:
Last month, Darren Chester, the Australian Minister for Defence Personnel, announced that a further seven soldiers who died in the Battle of Fromelles in 1916 during the First World War have been identified by name at this year’s identification board.
The soldiers’ remains were recovered during the excavation in 2009 of mass graves at Pheasant Wood in northern France by a multi-disciplinary team of experts led by Oxford Archaeology. The identification board meets each year to examine historical records and the anthropological and artefactual evidence collected during the excavation, as well as DNA evidence extracted from the soldiers’ remains, which is compared with that of their living descendants. A representative from OA served on the identification sub-board that confirmed the most recent identifications.
The announcement brings the number of soldiers identified by name to 166 out of the 250 recovered and now buried in the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Fromelles (Pheasant Wood) Cemetery. The excavation and early part of the identification programme were jointly funded by the Australian and British governments and overseen by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Since 2014, the identification programme has been solely funded by the Australian government.