April 2018

DNA identifies nine Australian soldiers fallen at Fromelles

Nine soldiers fallen at the Battle of Fromelles over one hundred years ago have now been formally identified, the Australian Minister for Defence Personnel Darren Chester announced this week.

The Battle of Fromelles, which took place on 19-20 July 1916, was one of the deadliest 24 hours in Australia’s history, with more than 5,500 Australian soldiers losing their lives.

After unmarked graves were discovered at Pheasant Wood in May 2006 containing the remains of 250 soldiers, our team of specialist DNA scientists began to work with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and the Australian and British Defence Casualty Units, extracting viable DNA samples from the remains in order to identify the soldiers.

Vic Moore, Commercial DNA Services Manager, LGC, said, “By applying advancing DNA methods, we are honoured to continue to assist the Uncovered War Casualties – Australian Army in regards to the Fromelles World War I identification programme. This year we have been able to provide closure for 9 different families, bringing the total number of soldiers identified at Fromelles to 159 from the 250 soldiers originally recovered at Pheasant Wood, Fromelles.

The soldiers will be honoured at a commemoration ceremony on the 102nd anniversary of the Battle in July, during which new headstones will be unveiled marking their identities for the first time in a century.

Vic continued, “Even after 102 years, being able to provide a name to an unknown grave can have a massive impact to the families, as it allows them to finally know what happened to their loved ones, and know where their final resting place lies.”

Since 2009, 159 of the 250 soldiers have been identified, and work continues as Vic and her team carry out analysis on the remaining soldiers.