The bodies of 250 Australian and British WWI soldiers have been buried in a cemetery in Formelles, France, 94 years after they were killed in one of the war’s most disastrous battles.

The bodies were discovered in an unmarked mass grave in 2007.

5,533 Australian and 1,500 British soldiers were killed in the battle at Fromelles and it is commemorated in Australia as the worst 24 hours in the nation’s history.

The Australian troops had only been in France for a few days and were wiped out by German machine guns within minutes of being sent out into open fields.

Meant as a diversion to prevent German troops being sent to the battle of the Somme, the battle at Fromelles was a failure. Documents found in German archives show they knew the attack was a bluff.

Many of the bodies were identified using DNA techniques.

Heartbreaking mementoes were found with the bodies, including a lock of hair in a tiny hand-sewn heart-shaped leather pouch and the unused half of an Australian train ticket.

Tim Whitford, of Tallarook, Victoria, whose relative Harry Willis was killed at Fromelles at the age of 19, told the BBC:

“I suppose this is a way of closing the loop, of honouring the service of a boy we never knew, who has always been a very vivid person in our family. But that doesn’t mean I can forgive the bastards who sent him to die.

“I don’t like the flowery language people use about giving their lives for their country. These boys didn’t do that. Their lives were ripped from them in the night. Who knows what they might have become?”