DNA match identifies Bendigo soldier from World War 1 battle

A Bendigo soldier killed in the World War 1 Battle of Fromelles has been formally identified using DNA samples from relatives.

Private Thomas William Francis is one of five Australians that have been newly identified among soldier remains recovered from the battle.

The remains of 250 Australian and British soldiers killed in the 1916 battle were exhumed from mass graves at Pheasant Wood, northern France, in 2009.

DNA samples were taken, to be matched with relatives, before they were reburied in Fromelles (Pheasant Wood) Military Cemetery in 2010.

The five newly DNA matched soldiers brings the number of Australians identified from the site to 124.

Defence Minister Warren Snowdon said new headstones would be erected for the five men, with a dedication ceremony to be held at the site on July 19, the 97th anniversary of the battle.

Bendigo resident Helen Harper said it was ''a relief'' to be able to lay to rest her father's cousin, Tom Francis, 26, a grocer's clerk who was single when he died. 

He had sailed from Australia in March 1916. 

Ms Harper said she would attend the service in France to ensure 'he isn't forgotten'.

The Age

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