The remains of five AIF soldiers will be laid to rest today with full military honours in the Buttes New British Cemetery at Polygon Wood, Belgium. The remains were discovered by chance in September 2006 during roadwork and pipe-laying excavations near the small village of Westhoek. This is situated in the middle of the dreaded Ypres-Passchendaele Salient where up to half a million casualties on both sides fell, of which tens of thousands were either never recovered or were unidentifiable.
The Australian Army through its History Unit headed the investigation into the identity of the five men, with the assistance of the Memorial Museum Passchendaele, the Department of Veterans' Affairs, and the Office of Australian War Graves. The Australian War Memorial also provided some assistance early in the piece, particularly with archival maps and documents.
Subsequent DNA testing proved successful in identifying two of the five men (see news articles below).
May they all now rest in peace.
*New: A large number of photos and some You Tube clips can now be found on the Dutch/Flemish WW I Forum: www.forumeerstewereldoorlog.nl/viewtopic.php?t=10901
History sleuth, Army News, 5 April 2007 (an earlier piece on the search for the mens' identities)
Missing WWI soldiers identified, Army News, 4 September 2007.
Remains of diggers identified, Canberra Times, 5 September 2007.
Lost for 90 years, diggers identified by DNA, The Age, 5 September 2007.
Australian diggers honourably laid to rest, ABC News, 5 October 2007.