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Unknown WWI Australian soldier has been identified

The remains of an unknown soldier from the First World War have finally been identified, the Commonwealth has confirmed.

The remains of an unknown soldier from the First World War have finally been identified, the Commonwealth has confirmed.

The remains of an unknown soldier buried in France have been identified over 100 years after the serviceman made the ultimate sacrifice at Villers-Bretonneux, Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Defence Personnel Andrew Gee confirmed this week.


The unknown soldier was identified as Albert Nicholson, who served in the Australian Imperial Force as a driver in the 14th Field Artillery Brigade. Nicholson died while in action aged just 21 years old.

According to the minister, Nicholson was thought to have passed while preparing for the upcoming Allied attack when he was killed by shellfire.

“After years of investigative research, I can announce we now know the final resting place of Driver Albert Nicholson of the Australian Imperial Force, who died in France in the First World War,” Minister Gee said.

“Albert, originally from Broken Hill, New South Wales, enlisted in Adelaide on 17 September 1915 and left Australia for overseas service on 5 January 1916. He was Killed in Action at Villers-Bretonneux on 3 August 1918.”

Despite being buried following his passing, the government confirmed that the location of his original resting place was lost. However, once located his identity was unable to be confirmed.


His later resting place was in a Commonwealth War Grave, Adelaide Cemetery in Villers-Bretonneux.

“Further research eliminated all other fallen soldiers of the 5th Divisional Artillery in the area, allowing for the identity of Albert to be conclusively established,” Minister Gee continued.

”I want to sincerely thank the researchers from Fallen Diggers Incorporated, the Australian Army’s Unrecovered War Casualties team and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission on the identifications.

“The quest to identify Albert’s grave brings the number of Australian First World War soldiers which Fallen Diggers Incorporated has helped identify to 36, bringing closure to the families of our fallen and allowing us to know the resting places of those soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country.

“The identification of Albert is extraordinarily significant for his family but also for our nation. It demonstrates in the most profound way that Australia never forgets its sons and daughters no matter how long ago they lost their lives or what foreign field they rest in.”

The identification of Nicholson’s remains were welcomed by his family who had long searched for the soldier, and show the enduring memory that our First World War soldiers have on their descendants.

“I’m extremely grateful my great uncle’s resting place has been identified and the fact we can do this 103 years after he passed and are still searching for other missing soldiers is incredible,” Nicholson’s great nephew John said. “Finding out this news has been an opportunity to reconnect with some family members I haven’t spoken to in many years.”

Preparations are being made to give Nicholson a headstone among his family, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, the Office of Australian War Graves and the Australian Army.

The minister’s office has confirmed that the headstone will read: “Great is our sorrow but God knows best, He has taken our loved one home to rest”, which was the request of John’s great-grandmother.

[Related: New recovery program launched for veterans]

Unknown WWI Australian soldier has been identified
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