July 20, 2011

WW1 Diggers laid to rest

Lest we forget....   article on today's newswire

Fromelles diggers find final resting place

The remains of 14 Australian World War I soldiers have been officially laid to rest in a special headstone dedication ceremony in France.

The men died during the 1916 Battle of Fromelles, but their bodies were not discovered until 2009 and they were only identified in April this year.

Defence Science and Personnel Minister Warren Snowdon attended a ceremony to unveil 14 newly-marked headstones at the Fromelles Military Cemetery in France on Wednesday, marking 95 years since the bloody battle.

"It is very, very important for Australia to understand that this Battle of Fromelles was the bloodiest 24 hours in Australian military history - 5,500 Australian men killed, wounded or taken prisoner," he said.

"Almost a century on, we can finally give them, and their families, the dignity of a known grave.

"It is proof that no matter how many years have passed, Australians do not forget those who have sacrificed their lives in times of war.

"We just need to make sure that we don't forget but most importantly commemorate and honour their service and their sacrifice."

Mr Snowdon says the soldiers' descendants can now visit their graves.

"We've put them in suitably appropriate Commonwealth war grave, a new war grave at Fromelles, and now they will rest in peace forever in the heart of France and people will know where their relatives are," he said.

So far 110 soldiers found in unmarked graves on the battlefields of northern France have been identified as Australian, while a further 100 are believed to have served with Australian forces.

Mr Snowdon says the project to identify other soldiers will continue until 2014. He has urged relatives of those who died in the Battle of Fromelles to come forward with information.

The Battle of Fromelles was the first action Australian troops fought on the Western Front.


  1. Bully for them. I'm glad they have a hallowed resting place. Why would they not send the remains back to Australia,though?

  2. <Coffeypot - that is a very good question and one that had me doing mega web searches trying to locate an official answer - which I didn't find.

    I think today it is more of a combination of tradition (that the soldiers are interred into the official foreign soil Australian cemetaries near where they fell) and possibly economic.