Fromelles' IDs & graves

Fromelles Cemetery Layout, Photos and Updates 31 March 2010
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s Remembering Fromelles website and the Australian Army Fromelles Project Group (AFPG) website have both been updated following the release of the names of the soldiers identified as being buried by the German Army near Pheasant Wood following the Battle of Fromelles in July 1916. RECENT NEWS Item: Fromelles layout, photos provides links to updated photos and the layout of the new CWGC Fromelles (Pheasant Wood) Military Cemetery showing the burial positions for the named and un-named Australians, un-named British and remaining unidentified soldiers.  Some analysis is included and the benefits of collecting additional DNA samples from relatives are highlighted.

Photo: Fromelles (Pheasant Wood) Military Cemetery – turf in front of Plot I, 9 March 2010 [CWGC]

List of Soldiers’ names released Wednesday 17 March: 
Media reports updated as at Wednesday 31 March

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, 203 have been identified as Australians, 3 as British and 44 cannot currently be attributed to either Army.  Of the 203 Australians, 75 of these have been positively identified by name. 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.” The list of the soldiers whose identities have been confirmed was released on Wednesday 17 March.
See RECENT NEWS Item: Fromelles list of names for the Ministerial Release and links to the list of Australian soldiers names.
See RECENT NEWS Item: Fromelles ID profiles for information on some of the identified soldiers Updated – with more soldier stories and linked to media
See RECENT NEWS Item: 75 Fromelles identities to see more details of events leading up to the release of the list.
See RECENT NEWS Item: Fromelles Media #3 to see links to media reports. Updated to 31 March and linked to Fromelles ID profiles. Media reports indicate that the number of relatives confirming they will attend the 94th anniversary ceremony in France in July has risen to more than 1200.  

One of those soldiers whose identity has been confirmed is 1682 Private Harold John BOURKE, 30th Battalion. Read his and the stories of other soldiers who have had their identities returned in RECENT NEWS Item: Fromelles ID profiles.

Photo: 1682 Private Harold John BOURKE, 30th Battalion [AWM]  

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.”  

New 2 March
The Joint Identification Board, co-chaired by Major General Mike O’Brien from the Australian Army, and Air Commodore Chris Bray from the Royal Air Force convened on 1 March 2010 at Australia House, London to try to identify as many of the 250 soldiers whose remains have been recovered from the burial pits at Pheasant Wood and have been re-buried in the new Fromelles (Pheasant Wood) Military Cemetery. The Board will end on March 12 but is likely to meet again in late April or early May to consider any further evidence.   See RECENT NEWS Item Fromelles ID Board meets.  


Photo: Major General Mike O’Brien, Co-chair of the Fromelles Joint Identification Board [Chris Munro]  

Updated Monday 22 February
Major General Mike O’Brien has indicated that the first group of Australian soldiers killed in the Battle of Fromelles and buried by the Germans at Pheasant Wood will be identified by Anzac Day.  Follow the links in RECENT NEWS Items:  Fromelles re-burials or Fromelles Media #2

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