Monday, September 17, 2007

DNA used to identify WWI one soldier

Genetic profiling has been used to identify the body of a soldier killed in the First World War.
The remains of a soldier who fought and died in the First World War have been identified using the latest DNA technology.

Private Jack Hunter was 29-years-old when he died on the battlefield at Passchendaele in the arms of his younger brother Jim and his body has now been recovered 90 years after he fell, having been found by workers laying a gas pipeline in Westhoek, near Ypres, last year.

Jim Hunter buried his brother in a shallow grave on the front line and searched for the place he laid his brother to rest until he died in 1977 at the age of 86, the Telegraph reports.

One of the first soldiers to be identified using groundbreaking genetic profiling techniques, Jack Hunter will now be buried with full military honours at a war cemetery in Belgium. Private Hunter's 81-year-old Mollie Millis will attend the service having provided her DNA for the profiling.

Hundreds of casualties of war are expected to be identified using DNA techniques, with thousands of soldiers still missing from the First World War. A mass grave unearthed near Lille this year contained the bodies of 239 British and 160 Australian soldiers.

The British government has started to collect DNA samples from the relatives of missing soldiers and the US military has carried out a similar programme since 1992, storing blood samples from relatives of soldiers lost in World War II, the Cold War, Korea and Southeast Asia at the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology in Maryland.


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