The identity of 378 World War I Diggers has been uncovered in Australia using facial recognition software.

A collection of 4,000 unmarked photographs discovered in the village of Vignacourt, France, in 2011 were donated to the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.

The photographs were taken by amateur photographers Louis and Antoinette Thuillier in 1916 when Australian soldiers passed through the town.

But the identities of the soldiers were largely unknown.

The Australian War Memorial has two large collections of soldiers taken by war photographers: the E-Series with approximately 7,000 photos, and the Darge series with 12,000. These photos were labelled with soldiers’ names.

Private William Fitch on Australian shores in 1915 [L] and his photo from the Vignacourt collection [R]. Photos: The Australian War Memorial

Using its facial recognition software, NeoFace Watch, technology company NEC worked with the Australian War Memorial to see if any of the Vignacourt photos matched up with the previously taken photographs in Australia.

Any scans which registered at least an 80% probability match were passed on to the War Memorial for formal identification.

NEC reported 378 likely matches.

One match was that of Private William Fetch, a 19-year old carpenter from Victoria, who was later killed in action in September 1917.

Previously, the identities of just 150 soldiers from the Vignacourt photographs were known.