The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) has today issued the following information:
The CWGC has launched a new website to trace the families of men who died in one of the most tragic battles of the First World War.
Early next month work will begin in northern France to recover the remains of up to 400 Australian and British soldiers who died in the Battle of Fromelles in July 1916. The remains currently lie in a number of newly-discovered mass graves at Pheasant Wood, in the village of Fromelles, where they had been buried by the Germans after the battle.
The recovery will be overseen by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and progress can be followed through the new website. One important aspect of the project will be the attempted identification of the bodies recovered. The battle took place within a limited timeframe and by careful examination of records of the ‘missing’, it has been possible to draw up a pool of possible identities for those buried in the mass graves. A list of these names will be published on the website.
Veterans Minister Kevan Jones said: “These men gave their lives for this country and everything possible will be done to identify and then lay them to rest with the full military honours they deserve. I urge families whose relatives may have died in the First World War battle at Fromelles in 1916 to check this list. We need the British public to look back in their family trees and come forward if they believe there is a chance their grandfather or great-grandfather died at Fromelles.”
Peter Francis, Head of Communication for the CWGC explained: “The website will play a key role in keeping the public up to date with activities at Fromelles. In that spirit we are pleased to be able to publish the names of men who we believe may be among those whose bodies will be recovered. “