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Australian World War I Unknown Soldier Identified

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

Australian World War I 'Unknown Soldier' Identified

13 Aug 2008 - Minister for Defence Science and Personnel, the Hon. Warren Snowdon MP, today confirmed that an Australian World War I soldier recovered from a lost grave in Belgium in 2006 has been identified as Private George Richard Storey.

"It is with great pleasure that we are now able to confirm the name of George Storey, and have notified his family of the final resting place of their brave relative killed during the Battle of Polygon Wood in September 1917, so far from home," said Mr Snowdon.

Private Storey's remains, along with those of Private John Hunter, Sergeant George Calder and two other unidentified Australian soldiers, were discovered during excavations near Westhoek, Belgium two years ago.

"While very good research work produced a list of seven possible names for the men, DNA matching techniques were only able to confirm the identity of two of the five prior to the re-burial ceremony with full military honours last year," said Mr Snowdon.

Confirmation of George Storey's identification was made using DNA together with compelling historical research.

"It has been a long, arduous process, but now Private Storey's place of burial is known to his country and most importantly his family. Plans are underway to replace the current headstone at his grave from 'known unto God' to 'Private George Richard Storey'".

A small, informal ceremony will be held in Belgium to mark the occasion and it is hoped that representatives of the Storey family will be in attendance.

Private Storey was born in London, England but was working as a farm hand in Western Australia when he enlisted on 31 March 1916 as a 20 year-old.

As part of 5th reinforcement, he was posted to the 51st Battalion and embarked for Europe on 20 September 1916 where he joined his unit on 19 December.

He was wounded on 9 June 1917 but recovered in time to rejoin his unit on 27 August 1917 and participate in the attack on Polygon Wood.

He was killed in action on 30 September 1917.

His brother, Jack Storey, survived the war and returned to Australia in January 1918.


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