British Soldiers Beside Diggers in Fromelles
THE HON. WARREN SNOWDON MP
Minister for Defence Science and Personnel
Friday, 13 June 2008 071/2008
Confirmed: British Soldiers Buried Beside Diggers In Fromelles
The discovery of two British General Service buttons at the limited excavation of a group burial site in Fromelles confirms that fallen British First World War soldiers have lain beside their Australian comrades for almost 92 years.
Minister for Defence Science and Personnel, the Hon Warren Snowdon, said the discovery provides physical confirmation of the findings from both the historical and non-invasive research carried out earlier in the investigative process.
“We now have artifacts that show we have uncovered the remains of both British and Australian soldiers in Fromelles, which makes this a very significant site for both nations,” Minister Snowdon said.
The find follows the unearthing of two Australian Rising Sun collar badges earlier this week, as well as several items of Commonwealth equipment which were used by soldiers of both nationalities during the First World War.
“The unearthing of two British General Service buttons is an important find, similar to the discovery of Rising Sun badges for Australia, and we join with the British Ministry of Defence in welcoming the news.”
Once assessments and research is complete, the Australian Government will be presented with a Report from the project contractor, Glasgow University Archaeological Research Division (GUARD), and will need to consider the next step in consultation with other authorities.
“This discovery highlights the need to continue our close working relationship with the British and French Governments as well as the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, and cements the need to reach a bilateral decision regarding the future of the site.”
Skeletal human remains were first encountered at the site on the second day of excavation, 27 May 2008, and have now been uncovered in all five of the pits expected to contain human remains and an adjacent sixth pit in which body parts have been found.
Researchers on site estimate numbers buried at the site may reach as high as several hundred with a summary of numbers and condition of the remains to be released following completion of the excavation.
The excavation is scheduled to conclude on Friday 13 June with a small, local ceremony planned to mark the closing of this phase and the significance of the find.