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List of First Australian Imperial Force soldiers believed buried at Fromelles.



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THE HON. WARREN SNOWDON MP Minister for Defence Science and Personnel

www.defence.gov.au

Thursday, 2 April 2009 041/2009

LIST OF FIRST AUSTRALIAN IMPERIAL FORCE SOLDIERS BELIEVED BURIED AT FROMELLES

The Minister for Defence Science and Personnel, the Hon. Warren Snowdon MP, today released the names of those First Australian Imperial Force soldiers who Army believes may be buried at Pheasant Wood, Fromelles, France.

The group burial at Pheasant Wood was confirmed during a limited excavation in May 2008. It is believed up to 400 Australian and British soldiers still lie at this site where they were buried by German forces following the Battle of Fromelles in July 1916.

“Following intensive research and consultation, we have identified a list of 191 Australian First World War soldiers who we believe may be among those buried at Fromelles,” Mr Snowdon said.

He cautioned that the list was not definitive and that research into the group burial at Fromelles would continue; both in Australia and abroad.

“Given the information available, it is impossible to be absolutely certain who is buried at Pheasant Wood. However we, and many other historians and interest groups, believe this list provides a solid foundation for further investigation.

“Together with the British Government, we have contracted research at the Red Cross in Geneva and the German War Archives in Bavaria in the hope we may uncover more conclusive information regarding the burials at Fromelles.”

Members of the public are encouraged to check the published working list and contact Army to register their details if their relative’s name appears.

“We have already established contact with relatives of approximately 40 per cent of those who appear on the list, and we want to reach more,” Mr Snowdon said.

“It is my hope that we can lay many of these soldiers to rest under a named headstone so their kin may know their final resting place and have the opportunity to pay respects.”

The working list of names is a result of intensive research conducted by Professor Peter Dennis, an independent historian contracted by Army, and follows consultation with several well-recognised War historians late last year. Those involved in the research include individuals from Friends of the Fifteenth Brigade; Friends and Family of the First Australian Imperial Force; Australian War Memorial; Army History Unit; Fromelles.net; Office of Australian War Graves, and; Monash University.

For more information about the project, including the working list of names, or to register your details, go online at www.defence.gov.au/fromelles or call 1800 019 090.

Media contacts: Kate Sieper (Warren Snowdon): 02 6277 7620 or 0488 484 689 Defence Media Liaison: 02 6265 3343 or 0408 498 664

Background:

The Battle of Fromelles began 19 days after the opening of the Somme campaign, and was the first battle fought by Australians on the Western Front. It is known as Australia’s bloodiest 24 hours with 5,533 Fifth Australian Division casualties including 1,917 killed.

The group burial at Pheasant Wood was confirmed during a limited excavation in May 2008. It is believed up to 400 Australian and British soldiers still lie at this site where they were buried by German forces following the Battle of Fromelles in July 1916.

Planning is underway for a full archaeological excavation of the site and individual re-interment of remains in a new Commonwealth War Cemetery at Fromelles, to be known as the Fromelles (Pheasant Wood) Military Cemetery. The archaeological excavation is scheduled to commence in May 2009 and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission is overseeing the work on behalf of both the Australian and British Governments.

Note for editors: The working list of First Australian Imperial Forces names is available in format which allows searching by place of birth, place of enlistment and parents’ last listed address.

Journalists can access high resolution photographs of Fromelles and individuals who are included on the working list from the Australian War Memorial’s media download centre www.awm.gov.au/media

Further Information: Kate Sieper (Warren Snowdon): 02 6277 7620 or 0488 484 689 Defence Media Liaison: 02 6265 3343 or 0408 498 664