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Family to find closure over lost son from Western Front

FOUND AGAIN: Private Willie Doust wrote to his parents just before being killed in action in France in 1916.
FOUND AGAIN: Private Willie Doust wrote to his parents just before being killed in action in France in 1916.

IT'S been almost 100 years since a young farmer from Lower Southgate, Private Willie Hilton Doust, enlisted to fight in the First World War.

He fought on the Western Front and was killed in action, aged 20 years, at the historic Battle of Fromelles on July 20, 1916.

With no known grave, Private Doust's remains were not recovered or officially identified - until recently.

After a joint Australian Army and United Kingdom Ministry of Defence project team excavation of a mass burial site near the French town of Fromelles in 2010, DNA was used to solve a century-old mystery.

A relative on his mother's side provided the match. News of the discovery came a day before Anzac Day.

Family historian Judy Walsh (nee Doust) will be among eight members of the Doust family in France in July to attend a ceremony formally identifying Private Willie Doust's gravestone and final resting place in the Pheasant Wood Military Cemetry, Fromelles.

"We look forward to the closure that this ceremony will bring to our family," Mrs Walsh said.

Private Willie Doust, who was known by all as Hilton, lived at Southgate on the property Bayham, originally selected by his grandfather David Doust in 1864.

He enlisted on October 8, 1915, along with his cousin Private Roy Doust, also from Lower Southgate.

"Willie was killed on the night of the 19th July 1916 while Roy (his cousin) was severely wounded, dying three-and-a-half months later in an English hospital," Mrs Walsh said.

Private Willie Doust was among 20 previously unidentified Australian Diggers whose names were released by the Assistant Minister for Defence Stuart Robert at Parliament House last week.

"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."

The current joint Australian and British project will conclude after a headstone dedication ceremony on July 19 during the annual commemoration of the Battle of Fromelles.

Topics:  anzac-centenary, editors picks, soldier, southgate, world war one




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