Nine Australian World War I soldiers identified by the 2018 Fromelles Project Identification Board [announcement made in April] have had their new, named headstones unveiled at the Battle of Fromelles Commemoration and Headstone Rededication Ceremony on the 102nd anniversary of the battle.
CAPTION: Captain Kenneth Mortimer (left) and Private Henry Bell, both 29th Battalion, AIF.
The nine soldiers were originally recovered from unmarked mass graves adjacent to Pheasant Wood in France in 2009.
They were among 250 unidentified soldiers who fought and died in the 1916 Battle of Fromelles.
The soldiers recovered were:
- Captain Kenneth Malcolm Mortimer, 29th Battalion Australian Imperial Force (AIF)
- 2825 Corporal Alfred Thompson, 55th Battalion AIF
- 191 Private Henry Bell 29th Battalion AIF
- 1218 Private William Edwin Boyce, 32nd Battalion AIF
- 889 Private Henry Gardner, 30th Battalion AIF
- 1011 Private Alexander McCulloch, 32nd Battalion AIF
- 314 Private Stanley Richard O’Donnell, 29th Battalion AIF
- 3983 Private James Robert Smith, 31st Battalion AIF
- 795 Private Claude Yeo, 30th Battalion AIF
They are now buried in marked graves in the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Fromelles (Pheasant Wood) Military Cemetery in France.
Minister for Defence Personnel Darren Chester said this would not have been achieved without the partnership between the Australian and British governments, as well as the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.
“The identification of soldiers killed in battle has been made possible by a great number of people working on this cause, and I commend their diligent research which has enabled recognition of the nine fallen Australian soldiers,” Mr Chester said.
“To date the Fromelles Project has resulted in 159 Australian soldiers being identified, while 91 remain to be identified.
“Importantly, the identification of these soldiers provides closure for some families with missing relatives lost during the battles of World War I.
“Many family members of these nine soldiers were present at the ceremony today and were involved in the ceremonial unveiling of the new headstones.”
Members of the public whose relatives fought in the Battle of Fromelles, have a grave listed as ‘Unknown’ and are known to have died on 19 or 20 July 1916 are encouraged to register with the Australian Army’s Unrecovered War Casualties unit – here..