The last of 250 World War One soldiers killed in the Battle of Fromelles was laid to rest in a ceremony yesterday at the first Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery built in Europe for 50 years.
The new cemetery, built near the site of the battle in northern France, was dedicated in the ceremony by His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales.
The soldiers were recently discovered in mass graves, and yesterday's ceremony, on the 94th anniversary of the battle, marks the end of a two-year project to give them a fitting final place of rest.
The ceremony began when the coffin of the last soldier was borne out of Pheasant Wood, location of the original graves, on a WWI Mark X General Service Wagon pulled by horses from the King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery.
The procession journeyed through the village of Fromelles, and was joined by His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales and Her Excellency The Governor-General of Australia, Quentin Bryce, along with Chief of the General Staff, General Sir David Richards, Lieutenant General Ken Gillespie, Australian Chief of Army, and soldiers from the British and Australian Armies.
The service was attended by hundreds of members of British and Australian families whose relatives were killed in the battle.
Many took part in the service, reading extracts from letters and diaries from those they lost.
The coffin was borne by soldiers from the British and Australian armies, and a joint firing party fired three shots, followed by a one minute silence.
Wreaths were then laid by HRH The Prince of Wales, Her Excellency Quentin Bryce, and Monsieur Hubert Falco, the French Minister of State for Defence and Veterans, and the cemetery was dedicated by His Royal Highness.
The Battle of Fromelles began on 19 July 1916, 19 days after the opening of the Somme campaign, and was the first major battle on the Western Front involving Australian troops.
The 5th Australian Division suffered losses of 5,533 either killed, wounded, taken prisoner or missing; and the 61st British Division suffered 1,547 similar losses.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission's records suggest that between 19 and 20 July 1916 the Australian dead at Fromelles amounted to 1,780, the British 503.