JUST six months after fresh-faced 18-year-old Garvoc lad Clem Loader signed up to serve King and country after a tiff with his girlfriend, he was dead.
His heartbroken parents, Sarah and Rowland Loader, would go to their own graves never knowing where their boy was buried.
A century on, a new investigation has given fresh hope of locating Clem’s final resting place and that of at least four other soldiers from the Western District.
The men were among about 1000 Australian casualties of the ill-fated second battle of Krithia on the Gallipoli Peninsula between May 8-12, 1915.
About 248 of them, mainly Victorians from the 5th to 8th Battalions which made up the 2nd Brigade, have no known grave.
Their names are listed on the Helles Memorial to the Missing at Gallipoli.
New research based on topography, diary entries and military records has raised the possibility that their remains could lie in a mass grave.
Turkish-born Melbourne-based military historian John Basarin and Lambis Englezos, a leading researcher behind the discovery of the Fromelles mass grave in northern France, have pinpointed a site at Krithia where they believe 143 of the missing Diggers could lie.
They are urging relatives to lobby the federal government to fund a ground search of the area with a view to possible exhumations, identification and reburials in individually marked graves.
Clem Loader’s niece, Cobden’s Nellie Dunstan, said she would back moves that could help to finally lay her uncle to rest.
“It would be nice to see him have a proper burial,” said Mrs Dunstan, whose father Bill was Clem’s only brother in the family of four sisters.
“I never knew much about him, but the story was that he enlisted after a fight with his girlfriend.”
Along with Private Loader, of the 5th Battalion, the site is the possible resting place of at least four other Western District soldiers, including: Private Alexander London (6th Battalion), 22, of Warrnambool, Private George Banes (6th Battalion), 42, of Port Fairy, Second Lieutenant William Harold McLeod (5th Battalion), 30, of Mortlake, and Private Dougald Stewart (6th Battalion), 24, from Casterton.
Mr Basarin, the 2010 RSL Peace Prize recipient and co-author of six books on the Gallipoli conflict, said a report on a likely Krithia mass grave on the 60 Minutes program last Sunday had drawn a strong response.
He said three more families of missing soldiers had come forward, bringing to 12 the number of families with whom he was now in contact.
If the presence of remains was confirmed, he said he would advocate for full identification and reburial at the nearby Redoubt Commonwealth War Graves cemetery.
“Once we know they are there, the question will be who they are and do they have relatives for DNA testing,” he said.
Mr Basarin urged relatives of missing Krithia soldiers to email him at email@example.com