The Minister for Veterans’ Affairs has just announced that the remains of two soldiers, likely to be Australians who fought in the First World War, were located at Bullecourt in France on Saturday, 23 May 2015.
The Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Senator the Hon. Michael Ronaldson, said the remains had been discovered by a French fossicker in an area known to locals as the ‘Australian line’ and then recovered by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC).
“After efforts to identify the soldiers, the remains will be interred in a nearby war cemetery with full military honours,” Senator Ronaldson said.
“During initial examination of the remains, CWGC personnel discovered a button with a map of Australia on it, supporting the likelihood that they are Australian soldiers.
“The First and Second battles at Bullecourt saw some of the most intense trench fighting of the First World War. Australians achieved amazing feats and sadly also suffered significant losses. General Haig described Second Bullecourt as ‘among the great deeds of the war’.
“Australia owes a debt of gratitude to these men, and all those who served our nation on foreign soil. It is our responsibility to ensure that their service and sacrifice is respectfully honoured,” Senator Ronaldson said.
Australian and British troops fought two bloody battles at Bullecourt in April and in May 1917, with the Australian Imperial Force sustaining approximately 10,000 casualties. Hundreds of Australians who died at Bullecourt remain missing.