Human Remains Found At Fromelles Excavation Site
Human Remains Found At Fromelles
Minister for Defence Science and Personnel, the Hon. Warren Snowdon, announced this morning that a small quantity of human remains had been discovered at a suspected group burial site of Australian and British WWI soldiers in Fromelles, France.
"Human remains have been uncovered during the limited excavation of a suspected World War I burial site which is being investigated by the Australian Army in France," Mr Snowdon said.
It is suspected the remains of up to 400 Australian and British soldiers who fell during the Battle of Fromelles over 19 and 20 July 1916 lie at the Pheasant Wood site. Research by amateur historian and head of the Friends of the 15th Brigade, Mr Lambis Englezos, contributed to the Army's decision to investigate the site.
The excavation began on Monday 26 May at 9.30am (Central European Time) and the original outline of two of the five suspected burial pits was confirmed within five hours. Further excavation of a small trial trench over one of the pits uncovered human remains at around 5pm on Tuesday 27 May CET.
Mr Snowdon said, "At this stage there is no indication of the number or condition of any remains which may be found at the site and the archaeology team still have a large task ahead to attempt to resolve these questions."
"While it is believed that the bodies are likely to be Australian and British soldiers, the nationalities have so far not been confirmed.
"This is a significant discovery in determining what happened to our Diggers in the aftermath of the bloodiest day in Australia's military history."
The limited excavation is being carried out by battlefield archaeologists from the Glasgow University Archaeological Research Division (GUARD) and is being conducted under the auspices of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission with the full cooperation of French and British authorities, local Government, the land owner and tenant.
Chief of Army, Lieutenant General Peter Leahy AC,
commended the GUARD
team on their meticulous work, and on this discovery so early in the excavation.
"I also thank the Commonwealth War Grave Commission and the French and British Governments for their collaboration and assistance in facilitating this complicated excavation," Lieutenant General Leahy said.
Further information on the Fromelles excavation is available via the Fromelles Inquiry line 1800 019 090 or website www.defence.gov.au/fromelles