Frequently asked questions
How do I get in contact with Unrecovered War Casualties - Army (UWC-A)?
You can email the team at army.uwc [at] defence.gov.au or call toll-free on 1800 019 090.
How do I receive updates on investigations?
Updates are published in the UWC-A section of the Australian Army website army.gov.au.
Will I receive direct contact from UWC-A?
If we recover remains that may be associated with your unrecovered relative we will reach out to you if DNA or other information may assist in the identification of the soldier. You will also be contacted if the soldier has been identified.
Why should I register with the UWC-A next-of-kin register?
Registration provides descendants with an opportunity to assist in the identification of soldiers who may be recovered from various sites around the world. Relatives should be prepared to provide a family tree showing their relationship to the soldier in order to determine suitability for DNA testing.
Registered relatives of soldiers receive updates by mail and/or email. Only relatives who are registered will be contacted if the soldier they are related to is located. To register please contact us on 1800 019 090 or email: army.uwc [at] defence.gov.au
How long does the process take?
Each case is unique and it is important that the process of identification and recovery be conducted in a meticulous manner to ensure the veracity of the identification. For this reason the process of investigation, recovery and identification can take anywhere from several months to several years.
Once a grave is located the process of physically recovering a single set of remains normally only takes a few days, depending on the location and environment of the recovery site. This process can take longer if the grave contains the remain of more than one individual, if the grave is in an isolated area or the grave contains dangerous items like unexploded ordnance.
The investigation into the possible identity of a soldier is generally the lengthiest part of the process. Firstly the remains are forensically examined to determine age, sex, height, ancestry, pre-existing injuries. Any artefacts recovered with remains are also examined.
This information is then cross-referenced with what could be thousands of paper records of soldiers who went missing in the same location. A short list of soldiers is developed, the families of these soldiers sought out and potential DNA family reference sample donors identified and samples obtained. Once DNA from the family is obtained, it is compared with the DNA profile of the recovered remains. The identification of soldiers may include:
- DNA match (sometimes this isn't possible due to degradation of the remains)
- Artefacts (both military and personal)
- Anthropological data
- Dental records
- Location of recovery
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