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Family Tree DNA has a project called “WW1 Missing-in-Action DNA Legacy Project” which is hoping to serve both as a commemorative project, and as a potential source of DNA for those who fell in action and whose final resting place is unknown.

The project Description reads:

The 28th July 1914 marks the start of The Great War – World War One. It lasted for four years, three months, and two weeks, claiming the lives of over 9 million soldiers. Many of those killed still lie on the battlefields of the Western Front. From the UK alone, it is estimated that the remains of 500,000 soldiers have never been recovered and are buried there to this day. The remains of these missing soldiers are occasionally uncovered during road building or farming activity, and it is possible in many cases to identify these remains using traditional identification methodology. Occasionally DNA has been successfully extracted and can prove useful in identifying remains. However, DNA testing does not form a routine part of the investigation process and there is no systematic policy of collecting DNA samples from those remains that cannot be identified by traditional means.

This project serves several chief objectives:

  1. to serve as a “Legacy Project” so that those whose relatives are among the missing can leave a “genetic remembrance” to the service of their relative
  2. to allow relatives of the missing to leave their DNA in a public database in case it may prove useful in the future for identification purposes – these relatives will share some of their DNA with the missing soldiers
  3. to support the adoption into official policy of DNA testing when other methods of identification have failed
 My own relatives are listed on my Missing in Action page.