Page last updated at 16:53 GMT, Friday, 24 April 2009 17:53 UK

MoD names WWI mass grave troops

Crosses mark the graves of unknown soldiers killed in battle
More than 7,000 Allied serviceman died at Fromelles

The Ministry of Defence has released the names of dozens of World War I soldiers they believe may be buried in a mass grave found in France last year.

Burial pits, which date from the Battle of Fromelles on 19 July, 1916, could also contain the remains of at least 20 Scottish soldiers.

Among those named are members of the Cameron Highlanders and the Royal Warwickshire Regiment.

More than 7,000 British and Australian servicemen died in the two-day battle.

SCOTS ON CASUALTY LIST
Private John Adam - Royal Warwickshire Regiment - from Grangemouth
Sergeant Andrew Allan - Royal Warwickshire Regiment - from Bannockburn
Private John Bowie - Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry - from Aberdeen
Private Mitchell Collins - Royal Warwickshire Regiment - from Kennoway
Private John Cumming - Cameron Highlanders - from Inverness
Private Alexander Dryburgh - Royal Warwickshire Regiment - from Werness
Private George Galloway - Royal Warwickshire Regiment - from Buckhaven
Private Alex Gray - Royal Warwickshire Regiment - Wormit, Fife
Private Alexander Loudon - Cameron Highlanders - from Lanarkshire
Lance Corporal David Marshall - Royal Warwickshire Regiment - from Perth
Private Joseph McGuire - Cameron Highlanders - from Glasgow
Lance Corporal John Melville - Royal Warwickshire Regiment - from Perth
Private James Melvin - Cameron Highlanders - from Abington
Private James Mitchell - Cameron Highlanders - from Coldstream
Private Maxwell Mitchell - Royal Warwickshire Regiment - from Falkirk
Private Ernest Paton - Royal Warwickshire Regiment - from Forfar
Lance Corporal William Richardson - Royal Warwickshire Regiment - from Perth
Private William Robertson - Cameron Highlanders - from Edinburgh
Corporal David Simpson - Royal Warwickshire Regiment - from Kirkcaldy
Private John Smith - Royal Warwickshire Regiment - from Forfar
Private David Thom - Royal Warwickshire Regiment - from Forfar

As part of the identification process, experts will take DNA samples from the bodies and try to find a family link with the help of the soldiers' relatives.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) will begin the process of exhuming and identifying about 400 of the bodies next month.

The soldiers were buried by their German counterparts in the aftermath of the battle and most of their identifying tags removed.

A careful cross-referencing of casualty records has already enabled the MoD to produce a pool of possible identities for the soldiers.

The commission aims to identify the bodies and give them a military burial at a new site near Fromelles, which will be the first war cemetery constructed in 50 years.

The soldiers will be buried with full military honours, initially as unknown soldiers, then a panel of experts from the Australia and the UK will meet in 2010 to consider the evidence gathered about the soldiers' identities.

A spokesman for the CWGC said: "The list of names has been released because we need the families to come forward and register their details with the project.

"It's a slow, forensic process, we have to first check whether the DNA is viable at the burial site and then test it against the families.

"The graves will then be marked when positive identifications are made.

"We will ask the families what they want on the headstones and we will take care of that."

The commission said the new cemetery would be "worthy of the sacrifices made by these men and a place of dignified pilgrimage and remembrance for generations to come."

Details of all the men believed to have been discovered can be found on the website www.cwgc.org/fromelles



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SEE ALSO
DNA scheme to identify WWI dead
20 Apr 09 |  Berkshire
WWI grave troops to be reburied
31 Jul 08 |  Europe

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