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Waiting out the wet at Fromelles.

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

Tuesday, 18 March 2008 024/2008


The planned excavation of a suspected World War I burial site near Fromelles, France has been delayed.

The Minister for Defence Science and Personnel, the Hon Warren Snowdon MP, said adverse ground conditions have meant work on the site will be set back a month.

“The limited excavation to confirm the presence of up to 400 Australian and British war dead was originally planned to commence in April 2008,” said Mr Snowdon.

“It has now been rescheduled to late May due to the high level of the water table.”

The soldiers believed to be buried in the mass grave at Pheasant Wood, fought in the battle of Fromelles on the 19th and 20th of July 1916.

The battle was responsible for one of the greatest losses of Australian lives in one 24-hour period.

The excavation work will be carried out by a team from the Glasgow University Archaeological Division under the auspices of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

“The work is being planned with approval of French authorities and assistance is being sought from the British Government,” said Mr Snowdon.

“Should remains be discovered, I look forward to working with the British and French Governments to ensure that the sacrifice of these soldiers is appropriately commemorated.”

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