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DNA project for Fromelles


LGC is involved in a programme to help identify the soldiers who fell at the Battle of Fromelles in northern France on 19 July 1916.

Our dedicated team of specialist DNA forensic scientists is attempting to extract viable DNA samples from the remains of these soldiers and we will remain involved in the project until its completion. We are now in the process of collating the details of potential relatives in an attempt to gain some positive identification.

Background

In May 2006, after several years of painstaking research and investigation, a number of burial pits dating from the First World War were identified at Pheasant Wood, near Fromelles, in northern France. In May 2009 careful excavation of the pits was started by archaeologists from Oxford Archaeology, working with LGC Forensics’ specialist DNA team, whose role it was to take appropriate DNA samples. By early September, they had removed the remains of 250 British and Australian soldiers, buried behind German lines after the Battle of Fromelles in July 1916.

The soldiers were members of the 5th Australian division and the British 61st division infantry. The attack they launched was intended to draw German troops away from the Somme offensive, which was taking place further south. The consequences of that attack at Fromelles would prove disastrous.

The British and Australian Governments asked the Commonwealth War Graves Commission to oversee the operation and to recover the remains. DNA specialists from LGC Forensics  and archaeologists from Oxford Archaeology examined remains in an effort to identify the soldiers, a large number of whom were reinterred in  2010 at a new military cemetery at Fromelles.

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