Speaking at Parliament House, Mr Robert said the identifications reflected Defence’s commitment to service personnel from all conflicts in Australia’s history.
“In the lead up to the Anzac Centenary, it is only fitting that we recognise and remember these soldiers who left for war almost 100 years ago, never to return home to their loved ones,” Mr Robert said.
“They made the ultimate sacrifice in the service and protection of our nation. We are now honouring their sacrifice by identifying as many of these brave servicemen as possible.”
The Battle of Fromelles is widely recognised as one of the worst days in Australia’s military history and was the first major battle fought by the Australian Imperial Force in France. The 5th Australian Division suffered over 5500 casualties, both killed and wounded, with many of those killed remaining unaccounted for almost a century after the battle.
The newly identified soldiers were among 250 Australian and British World War One servicemen, recovered from burial pits near the French village of Fromelles by a joint Australian Army and United Kingdom Ministry of Defence project team. The recovered remains were reburied in the Fromelles (Pheasant Wood) Military Cemetery in 2010.
The current joint Australian and British project will conclude after a headstone dedication ceremony on 19 July 2014 during the annual commemoration of the Battle of Fromelles.
“The steadfast work of the Fromelles Project team over the past six years has now provided closure for the families of 144 Australian soldiers who never came home,” Mr Robert said.
“We remain determined to identify as many of the remaining 67 unidentified Australians as possible.”
“Although the joint Fromelles Project will close, the Army's Unrecovered War Casulaties team remains determined to identify as many of the remaining 67 unidentified Australians as possible.”
Mr Robert said more than 3000 family members have recorded their details with Defence, and their involvement is vital to the success of the identification process.
“I encourage anyone who is related to an unrecovered soldier from the Battle of Fromelles to contact the Australian Army’s Unrecovered War Casualties team to register their details,” he said.
A complete list of the 20 newly identified soldiers, including their service numbers and place of birth is available here.
Images of the Fromelles Project, including 11 of the newly identified soldiers are available on the Defence Image Gallery.
Read more about the Fromelles Project.