On the eve of Remembrance Day, the final resting place of five previously unidentified Australian soldiers who served and died in France during the First World War have been confirmed. Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Minister for Defence Personnel Darren Chester said the men were originally buried as unknown Australian soldiers, but thanks to the hard work of Fallen Diggers Incorporated, the Australian Army’s Unrecovered War Casualties team and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, they had now been identified.
- The soldiers were identified as:
- 2027 Private George Thomas Littleboy, 42nd Battalion, of Springsure, Queensland who Died of Wounds on 26 February 1917 after being captured by the Germans near Armentieres.
- 554 Private Henry McIntosh Hopping Mills, 3rd Machine Gun Battalion, of Petersham, New South Wales was killed in action on 8 August 1918 at Accroche Wood near Hamel.
- 5985 Private Thomas Cohen, 2nd Battalion, of Stuart Town, New South Wales was killed in action on 18/19 September 1918 between Hargicourt and Jeancourt.
- 7499 Sergeant Edwin Douglas Lillie MM, 2nd Battalion, of Leichardt, New South Wales was killed in action on 18/19 September 1918 between Hargicourt and Jeancourt.
- 7520 Lance Corporal Patrick Joseph O’Neill, 2nd Battalion, of Loomberah, New South Wales was killed in action on 18/19 September 1918 between Hargicourt and Jeancourt.
Chester said notations on original grave records provided some details, however, further investigation had allowed the identity of these men to be conclusively proven. “I would like to acknowledge the ongoing work of Fallen Diggers who have helped identify 32 Australian First World War soldiers,” Chester said. “In consultation with the men’s descendants, the Australian Army, Commonwealth War Graves Commission and the Office of Australian War Graves will make arrangements to replace the previously unmarked headstones with new ones, bearing the soldiers’ names and service details. It is sobering to think that more than 100 years on we are still identifying those who made the ultimate sacrifice as part of the First World War. Lest we forget.”
There are approximately 9,000 graves of unidentified Australian soldiers in Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemeteries globally. Further information on Unrecovered War Casualties is available here.