I accompanied my parents to Warwick on Monday for a meeting with the Ministry Of Defence. There's been a large-scale exhumation of bodies from previously unknown and unmarked graves from the disastrous diversionary attack at Fromelles in 1916 (intended to deny Germany the luxury of being able to strip "quiet" sectors in order to reinforce the Battle of the Somme) and since a relative on my Mother's side, one Corporal Absolom Goode, was reporting missing in this battle the MoD have contacted my Mother as part of their efforts to identify as many of the human remains as possible.
Supposedly one of the scientists I spoke to regularly appears on Channel 4's Time Team but as I don't watch television I will have to take my parent's word for it.
It was quite a fascinating meeting and presentation, talking about the tiny, tiny details that the anthropologists use to piece together whether the body is from the South Midland Brigade or the ANZAC Corps. For example, X-Rays show metal on the collar of British Army uniforms not found on Australian uniforms but this can only be found before the clay is removed from the remains - because the corroded metal is now only oxide dust and will be lost when the remains are cleaned. They are keen to know if the deceased was Roman Catholic because in this period no Catholic was allowed to remain left-handed, so a southpaw will not be a Catholic. Photographs of their descendants are welcomed if they show strong traits that may be found on their ancestors such as gappy front teeth.
The MOD's people were interested in possible Jewish ancestry based upon Absolom's first name and also two changes of surname in that branch of the family (Gold -> Gould -> Goode) so while we don't think my Mother would provide a conclusive DNA match, it may narrow down which (if any) of the remains are the man the MOD is keen to link to us.
The meeting was at the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers Museum, I tried to take a load of shots but it was the typical museum environment whereby the whole place is either dim or blindingly bright and doesn't make photography easy.