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Britsh Artefacts Found At Fromelles War Grave Site

Ministry Of Defence (National)

Britsh artefacts found at Fromelles war grave site

The MoD announced today that two British Army buttons and a British matchbox have been found at the site of a World War One grave in Fromelles, France. This suggests that it is highly likely that there are British war dead buried there.

During a visit to the grave today, Veterans Minister Derek Twigg announced that the three artefacts were found with three separate sets of remains. Earlier in the week, two Australian Army badges were also discovered.

The exploratory excavation by the Glasgow University Archaeological Research Division (GUARD) has found a number of unidentified remains and the team is now assessing their condition. No remains will be removed during the dig. The project has been carried out on behalf of the Australian Government with the support of the British Government and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

Derek Twigg said:

"The discovery of two British General Service buttons and a British matchbox at this grave are significant finds. This is the clearest indication yet that there are British remains buried at Fromelles.

"I am grateful to the team from Glasgow University who have conducted themselves with great professionalism and dignity on what is a very sensitive and emotive project. The British MoD is delighted with the close working relationship that we have with the Australian and French Governments and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. We all share a common wish that if soldiers are buried here, they are commemorated appropriately. Precisely how this should best be done will be decided when we have the final report from the archaeological team."

The excavation, which began on 26 May 2008, draws to a close tomorrow when the grave will be returned to its original state. GUARD will then produce a report for the Australian and British Governments. Decisions on the appropriate way to commemorate the dead will be made following consideration of the report and advice from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

NOTES

1. The battle of Fromelles took place over 19 and 20 July 1916. The 5th Australian Division suffered 5,533 casualties and the 61st British Division suffered 1,547 casualties during the 24 hour battle.

2. The aim of the limited excavation is to confirm, or otherwise, the presence of human remains at the site and to determine their condition. There will be no removal of remains during this excavation phase of the investigation.

3. The limited excavation is on private land with the support of the French Government, local authorities and the land owner.

Client ref 115/2008
COI ref 162052P

ENDS

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