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DNA test hope to name victims of WWI battle

Irish relatives of soldiers killed in the First World War have been asked to provide DNA samples to help identify bodies which have been exhumed from a rediscovered trench in France.

Bodies of up to 400 unknown soldiers have lain in a mass burial pit for over 90 years after the Battle of Fromelles on July 19, 1916 which claimed the lives of 5,533 Australians and 1,547 Britons within just one night.


Last year a huge unmarked grave near the battle site in Northern France was uncovered at Pheasant Wood, which contained the bodies of between 225 and 400 soldiers, some known to be Irish.

Now, archaeological, historical and scientific experts have worked on cross-referenced casualty records from the time and have created a pool of possible identities of the men buried in the pits which they hope to match with DNA samples from living relatives.

Among those listed include Lieutenant Louis Barron from Dublin, who served with the Royal Warwickshire Regiment, and Private William Kavanagh who served with the Royal Dublin Fusiliers.

Anyone who believes that they may be related to soldiers buried at Fromelles should contact the Commonwealth War Graves Organisation. A full list of soldiers included on the casualty list is available on the website at www.cwgc.org/fromelles.