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Nine diggers farewelled at Fromelles

Nine diggers farewelled at Fromelles

Sat July 21, 2012 11:07am

GENERATIONS have passed in the Wynn family without anyone knowing whatever happened to Uncle Jack.

John 'Jack' Wynn was a labourer from West Maitland in NSW, a single man who went off to war in 1915 and like so many others, never returned.

Along with some 5500 of his countrymen, the 19-year-old died during the bloody 12-hour Battle of Fromelles in northern France over July 19 and 20, 1916.

While many of the fallen are still unaccounted for, a mass grave found near Fromelles in 2009 revealed the bodies of 250 allied soldiers, with DNA profiling identifying 96 of them.

As the 96th anniversary of the battle is marked, another nine Australians have been identified from among the remains, with each given a personalised headstone during a ceremony at Fromelles on Friday.

"These men died during the bloodiest 24 hours in Australia's military history - and almost a century on, we can finally give them, and their families, the dignity of a known grave," Parliamentary Secretary for Defence, Senator David Feeney said in a statement.

For brothers Graeme, 53, and Peter, 54, Wynn, a headstone for their grandfather's older brother comes as an emotional tribute.

"When our grandmother used to talk about 'young Jack', it was always with pride and wondering where he was and what had happened," Graeme told AAP after Friday's ceremony.

"It just makes us very proud that he is now able to have his name on the stone at Fromelles."

Peter approached authorities in Canberra, having read about the discovery of the Fromelles grave, and after he and Graeme provided DNA samples, their ancestor's identity was confirmed last year.

Senator Feeney said investigations into the remaining 131 men buried at the Fromelles grave will continue.

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