Seeking Fromelles DNA matches

19 July 2018 The Catafalque Party enters the Cemetery passing covered Headstones to be rededicated.
All photographs by Carole Laignel, unless otherwise acknowledged
[Click on images to enlarge]

The names of 231 of the 250 soldiers buried by the German Reserve Bavarian Infantry Regiment soldiers following the Battle of Fromelles are known. The graves of 159 of the 250 soldiers whose remains were recovered from the communal pits near Pheasant Wood, Fromelles in French Flanders and were reburied with full military honours in the new Fromelles (Pheasant Wood) Military Cemetery in 2010 are now identified with their names.

Photo: DNA procedures
[2009 Oxford Archaeology. CWGC]

The names of a further 71 soldiers are known to be buried in the Cemetery along with 20 whose identity is not known.  Identifying which of these soldiers is in which grave remains the challenge that can only be solved now by matching the soldier’s DNA with that of a descendant. These are some of the 1,102 Australian soldiers killed in the Battle of Fromelles on the night of 19th July, 1916 and continuing into the 20th with no known grave.  (1,333 Australian soldiers were listed as having no known grave less 231 now known to have been buried near Pheasant Wood).

    Identified with named head-stones Identified from Original Working List Identified from
Munich research
Identified but not on Working List
Soldiers identified 231 159 120 4 35
Soldiers recovered 250 64% 75% 3% 22%


The President of the Fromelles Association of Australia, Royce Atkinson, has issued the following call to anyone who has a relative who could have been buried by the Germans following the Battle of Fromelles.


That’s right, there are going to be at least 100 submissions made to the Joint Identifications Board for consideration in March, 2019. But there are a number of people who have been contacted, and are yet to have their DNA kits completed and returned.

This is the message we have received from those in charge of making submissions to the Joint Identification Board:

“Despite the great efforts going to identify donors we still have a significant number of donors who have done nothing about their kits when they received them from LGC, or return them very late.
The ID board will be sitting early March so we need the kits back by first week of February 2019 to ensure the samples can be processed in time.
It is zero cost to the donor. If the donors filled out the paper work and returned their kits within a week of receiving them then we would have the possibility of more identifications.
This has been a problem from the beginning.”

If you have a DNA kit or you know a relative who has received a DNA kit, now is the time to get the kits finished and returned to the laboratory. For your family, and for all those lost at Fromelles.

19 July 2018 Wreath-laying by Martial Delebarre, Jean Marie Bailleul & Pierre Sellier & Geoffrey Benn

Please contact: Royce Atkinson at

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