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Australian Soldiers Confirmed Buried At Fromelles

The Hon. Warren Snowdon MP
Minister for Defence Science and Personnel

Confirmation Of Australian Soldiers Buried At Fromelles

Minister for Defence Science and Personnel, the Hon. Warren Snowdon, today confirmed that an Australian Rising Sun collar badge had been discovered during the limited excavation of a First World War burial site in Fromelles, France.

"Our archaeology team in Fromelles has unearthed a Rising Sun badge in Pit 4, which proves that the remains of Australian soldiers are buried at this important site," Minister Snowdon said.

"This is a momentous discovery and makes this field at Pheasant Wood on the other side of the world, of national significance for all Australians."

The limited excavation was commissioned with three purposes: to confirm the presence or otherwise of human remains at the site; to make an assessment on the condition of human remains, and to estimate the number of human remains.

"The team has already confirmed the presence of remains and will continue to excavate the site to establish the condition and estimate the number of human remains at the site," Minister Snowdon said.

At this stage, the human remains uncovered are of skeletal nature and are reported to be in good condition. There is very little surviving fabric and many of the pieces of equipment had been removed prior to burial.

"Any future excavation of the site or testing of the human remains will require agreement from the British and French Governments as well as the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. We continue to liaise closely with each of these authorities and thank them for their ongoing support."

"Once we receive the reports and assessments from the Glasgow University Archaeological Research Division (GUARD) who are conducting the excavation, we will be better placed to discuss the next step in this process."

The limited excavation is scheduled to finish on Friday 13 June 2008 when the site will be returned to its original condition and the human remains left in position. An executive summary of the Report from the GUARD team is anticipated shortly afterwards with the full technical archaeological report to follow in due course.

ENDS

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