An Australian school teacher who pinpointed the spot where nearly 200 World War I diggers lie in a mass grave in France has been effectively banned from helping to recover and rebury their bodies.

Lambis Englezos led Australian army officials to the spot of the mass grave on the outskirts of the rural town of Fromelles, near Lille in northern France, after years of painstaking research.

Work to exhume the bodies and rebury them in a new cemetery being built nearby is due to begin in May.

But Englezos has been told by Australian army officials he will be granted special access to the excavation site only once during the five-month project.

They want access to the site limited so as to prevent any contamination of DNA samples they plan to collect from the soldiers' remains in the hope that some of them can be identified.

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