Page last updated at 12:26 GMT, Thursday, 31 July 2008 13:26 UK

WWI grave troops to be reburied

Map showing Fromelles location
Australian soldiers in particular suffered horrendous casualties

The remains of British and Australian troops killed in WWI are to be taken from a French mass grave and reburied in individual plots at a new cemetery.

The bodies of up to 400 soldiers found at the grave in north-east France in May will be reburied as close as possible to where they were found.

The men will be given full military honours to commemorate their bravery.

They died in the Battle of Fromelles in July 1916, thought to be one of the bloodiest for Australian troops in WWI.

It took place over 19 and 20 July 1916 - 5,533 Australian soldiers and 1,547 British soldiers were killed.

'Ultimate sacrifice'

It had been intended to divert German troops from the Battle of the Somme, which was raging 50 miles to the south.

Poor planning meant the mission failed and it soured relations between many Australians and their British commanders.

Veterans Minister Derek Twigg said: "It is right and proper that those brave men who lost their lives at Fromelles are buried with the honour and dignity befitting their ultimate sacrifice.

"The new cemetery will be a lasting tribute to their bravery and a place of pilgrimage for families who lost a relative in the battle. It will ensure the memory of their actions lives on for future generations."

The mass grave by Pheasant Wood on the edge of Fromelles was discovered by an amateur Australian historian and later confirmed by a team of archaeologists from Glasgow University on behalf of the Australian Government.

The exhumation and reinterment will be carried out under the auspices of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

A timing for recovering the remains is expected to be announced later in the year.



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