Wagga link to Fromelles soldier

By Brooke Durigo
Updated November 7 2012 - 1:40am, first published March 17 2010 - 12:44pm
Kylie Dunstan with a picture of her great uncle Ben.

A WAGGA family has been given closure after receiving confirmation that their relative has been identified as one of 75 World War I soldiers buried in an unmarked mass grave at Fromelles, France.Peter Dunstan and his family received news that the remains of his uncle, Private Benedict Dunstan of the 54th Battalion, had been identified after years of not knowing his resting place after he was wounded in battle and died on July 20, 1916.The families of the soldiers have been invited to attend an official memorial ceremony to be held in France on July 19.Peter's daughter Kylie Dunstan will be making the trip along with her parents and siblings to pay respect to her great uncle. "We knew he had been killed behind enemy lines but we didn't know where he was buried," Ms Dunstan said."It was exciting to finally know we had been given a bit of closure."Both Peter's uncle and father, Reuban Dunstan, fought in battle during WWI. Peter began his search for answers in 2004 when he wrote to the Australian War Graves Memorial with an inquiry about his lost uncle. He was told at the time it would not be possible to locate the remains.Peter was later advised that an unmarked grave had been discovered and that his DNA could be used to identify his uncle. "I was personally surprised to hear that he had been found," Peter said."When I heard that whole bodies had been found I was confident they could identify Uncle Ben who died after being wounded."Peter says he feels a strong connection to the history of the war and keeping his uncle's memory alive."There will will be a degree of emotion on the day of the memorial as it is a solemn occasion," he said."It was a tragedy that the soldiers were robbed of their lives and it will be good to finally farewell them at their final resting place." The 1916 Battle of Fromelles was the costliest in Australian military history, with 5533 soldiers either killed, wounded, taken prisoner or missing.The final resting places of the soldiers would have remained a mystery had it not been for the efforts of Australian amateur archaeologist Lambis Englezos and the Friends of the 15th Brigade.

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