University Student Uncovers Fully Equipped WWI Casualty

A Bradford University student has uncovered the body of an Australian soldier 90 years after he died in battle during the First World War.

Graham Arkley discovered the skeleton dressed in full kit while excavating the German trenches near St Yves, in Wallonia in Belgium. The area was attacked by the Australian 3rd Division on the morning of June 7 1917, as part of the Battle of Messines.

Twenty-one-year-old Arkley, who is part-way through his BSc Archaeology degree, made the initial find while working with a project set up to examine the effectiveness of the training of the Australian 3rd Division during the First World War. It is the first time significant human remains have been found during the four-year scheme. Items found with the unidentified soldier’s body included a German pickelhaube – a spiked helmet worn by German soldiers – that is believed to have been taken as a trophy.

The soldier’s remains and all of the artifacts have been taken by the Belgian Army to be given to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, where attempts will be made to identify him.

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