Brighton science event explores new ways of identifying First World War bodies

Posted On 17 Feb 2014 at 7:12 pm
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By Jenni Davidson

A Brighton Science Festival event will explore how developments in science are helping to identify the remains of missing First World War soldiers.

The Café Scientifique talk tomorrow (Tuesday 18 February) explains how archaeology, science and anthropology are being used to put a name to some of the WWI dead.

In CSI Flanders, Martin Brown of the group No Man’s Land: The European Group for Great War Archaeology will tell the story of an Australian soldier whose remains were discovered during archaeological works on the Messines battlefield in Belgium in 2008.

Archaeologists worked with the authorities to recover the body and then began the process of trying to identify the soldier.

They drew together a network of specialists and used the kind of forensic techniques often seen in TV programmes such as CSI and Silent Witness.

By gleaning as much information as possible from the bones, as well as the associated objects found with the man, and the ground where he lay, they managed to identify him and restore him to his family.

He is just one of thousands of missing soldiers killed in four years of trench warfare in the First World War who still lie buried in Flanders, Belgium.

Their bodies were never recovered for burial and they are recorded on war memorials simply as missing.

Every year some more of these bodies are found during farming work, building development or archaeological research.

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