WWI soldiers laid to rest in grand ceremony: service held for victims of Battle of Fromelles

6,000 attend event as last unknown soldier is buried

July 20, 2010

An unknown soldier killed in the Battle of Fromelles in Northern France in 1916 was laid to rest Monday in a ceremony attended by some 6,000 mourners. The soldier was one of 250 Australian and British World War I soldiers recovered last year from a mass grave. A new cemetery was created nearby for the burial of the soldiers, whose whereabouts was unknown until 2007.

A Melbourne, Australia schoolteacher and amateur historian Lambis Englezos spent years researching the battle and its aftermath, and was able to pinpoint the gravesite in 2007 in an area called Pheasant Wood. The grave was unearthed in May 2008 and final excavation completed in 2009.

DNA tests confirmed the identity and nationality of 96 Australian soldiers from the 250 found in the mass grave. A further 151 are waiting to be identified.

The battle of Fromelles on July 19, 1916 was the costliest in Australian history with 5,533 killed, wounded or taken prisoner by the Germans over 14 hours. The battle also claimed the lives of 1,547 British soldiers.

Monday’s ceremony was held on the 94th anniversary of the battle.

Also Monday, The Duke of Kent named a new Eurostar train in memory of the Battle of Fromelles. The train, ‘Remembering Fromelles’, will carry guests from the UK to Lille, France, which is only a short distance from the village of Fromelles.

Related articles about the mass grave discovery and recovery work:
WWI Australians to get new French cemetery

 
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