Page last updated at 15:20 GMT, Tuesday, 19 August 2008 16:20 UK

Student finds world war skeleton

An archaeology student has uncovered the body of an Australian soldier 90 years after he died in battle during World War I.

Graham Arkley, 21, a student at Bradford University, found the skeleton while excavating the German trenches near St Yves, in Wallonia, Belgium.

The area was attacked by the Australian 3rd Division on the morning of 7 June 1917, during the Battle of Messines.

Mr Arkley is part-way through his BSc Archaeology degree.

He found the skeleton, dressed in full kit, while working with a project set up to examine the effectiveness of the training of the Australian 3rd Division during World War I.

Identification attempts

"I'm very proud to have recovered a previously missing soldier and who could be of a similar age to me," he said.

"He endured unimaginable hardship and met a violent end."

Items found with the unidentified soldier's body included a German pickelhaube - a spiked helmet worn by German soldiers - which is believed to have been taken as a trophy.

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

Rob Janaway, a lecturer in archaeological sciences who led the team in Belgium, said: "This is an unusual discovery as he was a battlefield casualty in full kit buried where he fell rather than a burial in a grave behind the lines."

He added: "Working on this body was particularly special for me.

"I found it very interesting while cleaning the scraps of cloth from the collar of this young man and discovered short lengths of hair from his last hair cut."

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