Fromelles: identifying the fallen
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 http://army.gov.au/Our-work/Unrecovered-War-Casualties/Fromelles/The-Australian-Fromelles-Relatives-Database or by calling the Australian Fromelles Project Group on 1800 019 090.