Fromelles - 19 July 2013

A few photos from the Headstone Dedication for Australian soldiers killed during the Battle of Fromelles 19-20 July 1916.

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The Battle of Fromelles was a combined attack by British and Australian troops on the 19-20 July 1916, in France, during the First World War.  The aim of the operation was to seize the German-held salient just north of the village of Fromelles.  It was the first offensive operation by the Australian Imperial Force on the Western Front and was intended to divert German troops away from the epic Battle of the Somme.  The British and Australian attackers had little time to prepare and the odds greatly favoured the well-entrenched Germans.  After a night and day of fierce fighting the German defensive line remained unbroken.  When the attack was called-off on the morning of 20 July over 7,000 British and Australian troops had been killed, wounded, captured or were missing.  The high casualties from Australia's 5th Division, fighting alongside the British 61st Division, remind us that the battle remains the worst loss of life in a 24 hour period in Australia's history. 

The remains of 250 Australian and British soldiers recovered from mass graves in 2009 were reinterred in the Fromelles (Pheasant Wood) Military Cemetery, with full military honours, in 2010.  A ceremony to dedicate the new cemetery occured on the 19 July 2010, the anniversary of the Battle of Fromelles during which the dead of Pheasant Wood gave their lives.

In 2010 a Joint Australian and British Identification Board identified 96 Australians by name.  In March 2011 the Joint Identification Board identified another fourteen Australian soldiers and in March 2012 the Joint Identification Board identified nine more Australian soldiers. 

On 25 March 2013 the Joint Identification Board identified another five Australian soldiers who are honoured here today. 

(text taken from the 'Order of Service' programme)