Families of soldiers whose remains were recovered from the burial pits at Pheasant Wood and whose identities have been established by the Fromelles Joint Identification Board have been receiving phone advice with written advice being provided by mail as confirmation. From the 250 sets of remains recovered 75 Australian soldiers have had their identities confirmed by the Fromelles Joint Identification Board that met in London during the past 2 weeks and considered the results of the forensic analysis of the soldiers remains as well as the matching of DNA tests with relatives. A media report indicates that “Viable DNA has been obtained from all but about six sets of remains, with testing on samples to continue until 2014. Just three sets of remains of the 250 have been identified as British.”
Identified - 983 Private Henry Willis [Tim Whitford]
The Prime Minister, Mr Rudd told Parliament on Tuesday that the Government was poised to announce the results. “The Government is currently in the process of contacting the relevant families,” he said. “Obviously for the families involved this will be momentous news and we’ll make a public statement once the families have been contacted.”
Identified – 258 Private John Morley [Anne Betts]
The President of the Families and Friends of the First AIF, Mr Russell Curley welcomed the notification of families and the impending release of the list of soldiers identified:
“This is great news. Our thanks go to all who have worked so long and hard to achieve this result.
“If what has been reported is correct, the families of at least 75 of the Diggers from Pheasant Wood will gain closure and their mystery is solved. More importantly, these 75 Diggers have had their identities restored and each can now rest in peace, finally, in a grave beneath a headstone engraved with his name.
“Hopefully, there will be many more soldiers’ identities established in the future. We would like to see whether, for the small number of soldiers where viable DNA has not been able to be extracted by LGC Forensics, other world class laboratories are able to establish a DNA profile in the short term.
“In a joint statement yesterday, Minister Alan Griffin (Veterans’ Affairs) and Senator Nick Sherry (Assistant Treasurer) announced the issue of a new 20 cent coin to commemorate the Lost Diggers of Fromelles. This is some way towards proper recognition from the Commonwealth for the sacrifices these men made at Fromelles; if we could get the National and State Memorials to honour FROMELLES by inscription, then that recognition would be complete.”
For Media reports for the period since 16 March 2010 related to the identification of soldiers whose remains were recovered from the burial pits at Pheasant Wood and whose identities have been established by the Fromelles Joint Identification Board, see RECENT NEWS Item: Fromelles Media #3.