Mass grave World War One soldiers to be named

Mon Mar 15, 2010 2:00pm EDT
 
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LONDON (Reuters Life!) - The identities of more than 200 British and Australian soldiers buried in several mass graves in northern France during World War One are expected to be revealed this week.

A joint British/Australian Identification Board has been considering evidence in the last two weeks in an effort to identify 250 bodies found in Pheasant Wood, in Fromelles.

Both governments will announce on Thursday the names of those who have been identified.

The board has considered a variety of types of evidence, including anthropological, archaeological, historical and DNA information.

According to the Times newspaper, 86 British families with relatives thought to be in the grave have given DNA.

Families of identified soldiers will be contacted by the Australian Army and Britain's Ministry of Defense initially by phone and then by a follow-up letter, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) said on its website.

Relatives of those not identified will be invited to continue to take part in the project over the next four years.

The battle of Fromelles, in July 1916, saw the 5th Australian Division suffer 5,533 casualties -- the bloodiest day of fighting in the country's history -- while the 61st British Division suffered 1,547 casualties.

(Reporting by Valle Aviles Pinedo; Editing by Steve Addison)

 
<p>Standard bearers wait under falling snow during the service for the re-burial of soldiers killed in the battle of Fromelles at Pheasant Wood military cemetery in Fromelles, northern France January 30, 2010. The battle of Fromelles took place on July 19, 1916. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol</p>