Friday 19 March 2010 by Aaron Pegram. 6 comments
News, Wartime


Private Thomas Cosgriff, 59th Battalion, of Albert Park, Victoria, was one of 1,701 Australians killed at Fromelles on 19/20th July 1916. His remains and those of 74 others were positively identified through DNA testing. Private Thomas Cosgriff, 59th Battalion, of Albert Park, Victoria, was one of 1,701 Australians killed at Fromelles on 19/20th July 1916. His remains and those of 74 others were positively identified through DNA testing.

Earlier this week the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Allan Griffin announced the results of the first Joint Identification Board held to identify the remains of 250 Australian and British soldiers killed during the battle of Fromelles on the night of 19/20 July 1916. The remains were recovered from a recently discovered mass grave at Pheasant Wood where 203 were identified as Australians, and through DNA testing, 75 were identified by name. News of the results bought closure for the families of the men who had been officially missing for nearly 94 years and have now been reinterred in the newly-created Fromelles (Pheasant Wood) Military Cemetery. A final burial will take place during a ceremony to mark the 94th anniversary of the battle on 19 July 2010.

In December 2008, the Memorial’s official magazine Wartime ran several feature articles on the discovery of the mass grave at Pheasant Wood by key researchers involved in the project: Lambis Engelzos, a retired Victorian school teacher, wrote of his research which ultimately led to the discovery of the mass grave at Pheasant Wood; Dr Tony Pollard, the Director of Battlefield Archaeology at the University of Glasgow, wrote the story of the archaeological excavation conducted in May 2008; and Peter Barton wrote of his research in the archives of the Bavarian Kriegsarchiv in Munich, Germany. Memorial historians Ashley Ekins, Nigel Steel and Peter Pedersen gave accounts of the battle itself.

Due to the high level of public interest, copies of Issue 44 of Wartime are no longer available, but the magazine can be accessed here in digital form free of charge.

It is intended that the Joint Identification Board will continue DNA testing until 2014. People who believe their relative may be buried at Fromelles and have not already registered should do so at or by calling the Australian Fromelles Project Group on 1800 019 090.


Peter Hanlon

Our WW1 men and women, their couragous actions, their intollerable sufferings and their dedication to duty should remain forever an intrgral part of the Australian physchy. While in France recently I visited some of our war memorials, to pay my respects to our diggers and contemplate on what it must have been like. I failed in this as I could not see what they would have seen, could not feel what they must have felt and did not experience what they experienced. Instead, in the cold mist of morning I looked upon the hundreds, thousands of young Australian names and wept inwardly at their loss, our loss and the lost opportunities. Young lives never to see their potential, given away in the name of liberty. At one memorial, I think it was in Pozziers, my wife and I stood where my Dad and his mates once stood in 1916 over the graves of some Australian Diggers, it was freezing cold, it was about 9:00am and visability was about 100metres, you could not hear a thing other than the slight tinker of the Australian rope used to raise the Australian Flag, hitting the aluminium flag pole. It was very eerie as we were the only people their as our guide has left us there as a jesture of respect. As I looked up at the Australian Flag gently dancing in the morning breeze it was brought to life with an occassional flash of sunlight that had escaped through the grey cover of cloud. I felt at peace in this place and felt that these men burried beneath me were at peace, were at peace with their past, were at peace in this now very beautiful place of pastel, rolling lands. With this peace I felt enormous pride, respect and love for these men. May God bless them all and may we never forget.

Golden Rule

I could have not said it more eloquently. A I age I stare at the flag a little bit differently every day. Remembering my struggles, trials, and tribulations through the years and still being able to hold my head proud. Issue 44 has became a classic in my mind.

Eunice Curran

My mother's uncle died same day as Private Thomas Cosgriff, but Horace Smith was with the 54th Battallion and was killed near Sugar Loaf and was buried Ration Farm Military Cemetery La Chapelle d'Armentieres. This is recently all new to me, my mother died in 2007, we recently successfully traced her natural father (William Ernest Smith) as she was adopted. William also served but was with the 3rd Pioneers 35th Battallion, was injured and returned to Australia to serve again in WWII but under another name William Ernest Howard. When I seen today a photograph of my mother's uncle's grave (Albert John Horace Smith) for the first time, it hit me and I cried, in my mind I could a young 22 year old man being hit in the leg and trying to make ground but then disappearing as was stated from a witnesses report. The Germans buried him. What a cruel and shocking death.

Emma Cosgriff

This is my great great uncle. I was so shocked to see this in The Age a couple of weeks back. We never knew what happened to him until now. We just assumed it was a death in the war, but it's now good to have some closure, even if we never had a chance to know him.

mike sterling

They went with songs to the battle They were young, straight of limb True of eyes steady and aglow They were staunch to the end Against odds uncounted They fell with their faces to the foe. They shall grow not old As we that are left grow old Age shall not weary them Nor the years condemn At the going down of the sun And in the morning WE WILL REMEMBER THEM. May God rest their souls


I hope they will rest in peace