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A previously missing Australian First World War soldier has been identified, more than a century after he was killed by shellfire on the Western Front.
Driver Albert Nicholson, who served with the 14th Field Artillery Brigade of the Australian Imperial Force, lost his life on 3 August 1918, probably while moving ammunition into position close to the front line.
His comrades buried the 21-year-old in an orchard near the French village of Villers-Bretonneux, however the exact position of his grave was lost and, when a body was eventually found, it was reburied in the Commonwealth War Grave Commission’s Adelaide cemetery as an “Unknown Australian Soldier”.
Recent investigations by the Australian Army’s Unrecovered War Casualties team, charity Fallen Diggers Incorporated and the CWGC found that the remains of a soldier from Albert’s unit had been recovered shortly after the war from a location close to where he was reported to have been buried.
Further research eliminated all other possible casualties and the identity of the missing First World War soldier was confirmed.
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.
His great-nephew, John, said he was “extremely grateful” his relative’s resting place had finally been identified and added: “The fact we can do this 103 years after he passed and [we] are still searching for other missing soldiers is incredible.”
He added: “Finding out this news has been an opportunity to reconnect with some family members I haven’t spoken to in many years.”
Arrangements are now being made to replace the previously unnamed CWGC headstone with one bearing Albert’s name, service details and an epitaph that was chosen by his mother (John’s great-grandmother).
The inscription will read: “Great is our sorrow but God knows best, He has taken our loved one home to rest.”