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The Hon. Greg Combet AM MP
Minister for Defence Materiel and Science

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17 Mar 2010
32/10
  MSPA xxx/09

 

First Fromelles soldiers identified

 

Greg Combet, Minister for Defence Personnel, Materiel and Science, and Alan Griffin, Minister for Veterans' Affairs, today announced the results of the first Joint Identification Board, held to identify the soldiers recently reburied in Fromelles.

 

“Of the 250 soldiers found, I am pleased to announce that 203 have been identified as Australians, and that 75 of these have been positively identified by name,” said Mr Combet.

 

“The number of soldiers that we have been able to identify exceeds even our most optimistic forecasts. We are unlikely to identify every man; however we will continue to take all reasonable steps to maximise those named in the future.

 

“Each of the 250 sets of remains that were found have been analysed using all available historical, anthropological, artefact and DNA evidence.  For those who have been identified so far, DNA proved to be a key piece of the identification puzzle.

 

“I am also pleased to say that we have strong reason to believe that more identification could occur in the future.

 

A second identification board will be conducted in early May 2010 to consider samples that were not available for the March board. Further Boards will be conducted in 2011-14 and concluded in 2014.

 

“Further identification is significantly increased with DNA from living relatives to cross-match against, so I would continue to ask all potential relatives to register with Army,” said Mr. Combet.

 

People who believe their relative may be buried at Fromelles and have not already registered should do so at www.army.gov.au/fromelles or by calling 1800 019 090.

 

Alan Griffin, Minister for Veterans Affairs also welcomed the announcement, saying it gives their families and all Australians the opportunity to honour and recognise the service of these soldiers.

 

“All but one of the soldiers have been reburied in individual graves in the purpose‑built Fromelles (Pheasant Wood) Military Cemetery,” said Mr Griffin.

 

 “The final soldier will be laid to rest at a dedication ceremony on the 94th anniversary of the Battle of Fromelles on 19 July 2010.

 

“The soldiers are being buried in the new Fromelles (Pheasant Wood) Military Cemetery which is the first full cemetery the Commonwealth War Graves Commission has constructed in more than 50 years.

 

“The new cemetery is a fitting resting place for these brave men, who made the ultimate sacrifice.

 

“It is fantastic that we are able to present the names of these brave Australian soldiers to the nation and restore their identity to relatives.

 

“The battle of Fromelles was the bloodiest 24 hours in Australian history with 5,533 Australian soldiers killed, wounded or missing,” said Mr Griffin.

 

Only three British soldiers could be identified by their force and none by name. Forty-four soldiers remain ‘Known unto God’.

 

More than 1300 Australians soldiers died at Fromelles and have no known grave.

 

Media Note

 

A full list of the soldiers identified and also their photos is available at www.defence.gov.au.

 

Media contact:        Rod Hilton (Greg Combet) 02 6277 7620 or 0458 276 619

                        Sasha Nimmo (Alan Griffin) 02 6277 7820 or 0437 863 109

                                Defence Media Liaison: 02 6127 1999 or 0408 498 664

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