V C Corner Australian Cemetery, Fromelles, France
Old Victorian and Ex-RMIJ. Sergeant Church
is believed to be one of the (approximately) 400 men
whose remains have recently been discovered in a mass
grave at Pheasant Wood, Fromelles that was originally
dug by the Germans after the Battle of Fromelles on
19th/20th July, 1916.
The remains of these men are currently
being disinterred, and will be subject to DNA analysis
in the hope that some men can be identified. A new cemetery
has been constructed for their re-interment which took
place in 2010.
As at June 2015 he has still not been
Following the recent meeting of the Fromelles
Identification Panel, the formal six year programme
to identify the remains of 250 British and Australian
soldiers that were found in burial pits at Pheasant
Wood near Fromelles in France is drawing to a close
with 144 men having been identified. Henceforth, identification
will take place directly through the respective Ministries
Throughout much of that period, the Group
has been working to secure the identification of Old
Victorian, Sgt Chester Church, through research and
in locating family members from the male line who are
considered as being suitable donors of DNA samples.
Unfortunately for whatever reasons, that effort has
not proved successful, and Sgt Chester Church has still
not been identified.
However, research work is continuing, and with the advice
of the Australian Department of Defence, it is hoped
that that this will provide a conclusive outcome before
We have just received clarification
that the family were informed that the MtDNA does not
match any of the outstanding unidentified soldiers,
so it seems Chester was not amongst the soldiers found.
One hopes the ADF will keep the DNA profiles in the
event that further bodies are discovered.