The Battle of Fromelles Museum in northern France, seen from Pheasant Wood Cemetery

Battle of Fromelles Museum opens with tribute to Australia's Western Front sacrifice

Posted on on 21 July 2014
Share |

A museum commemorating the Battle of Fromelles has been officially opened at a ceremony attended by Australia's Minister for Veterans' Affairs, Michael Ronaldson, and senior French officials.

Paying tribute to the troops who fought in Australia's first major action on the Western Front in July 1916, Senator Ronaldson said the Musée de la Bataille de Fromelles would help ensure that their sacrifice was never forgotten.

Fromelles is remembered as the darkest day in Australia's military history.

In less than 24 hours, its forces suffered more than 5,500 casualties, with almost 2,000 killed in action or dying as a result of their wounds, and some 400 taken prisoner.

The allied attack with British troops, near Lille,  was aimed at diverting German attention away from the Battle of the Somme, further south.

Speaking at the opening of the Museum, Michael Ronaldson said: “I am pleased that the Australian Government has been able to contribute more than $1 million to construct this new Musée de la Bataille de Fromelles. 

"The Museum will help ensure the story of Australian service and sacrifice in this bloody battle will never be forgotten. 

"It will share this extraordinary Australian story with an international audience as well as the growing number of Australians who make the pilgrimage to the battlefields of the Western Front”

Fromelles (Pheasant Wood) Military Ceremony 

The Battle of Fromelles Museum also tells the story of how the remains of 250 Australian and British soldiers were discovered and exhumed from a battlefield mass grave in 2009.

The following year, they were reburied with military honours at the Fromelles (Pheasant Wood) Military Cemetery. 

Fromelles is one of 12 key sites on the Australian Remembrance Trail along the Western Front.

The trail is a $10 million Australian Government initiative, in partnership with the French and Belgian authorities, comprising walking trails, museums, battlefields, memorials, and cemeteries. 

All of these sites can now be explored online through the new interactive features of the Australian Remembrance Trail Virtual Visitors Centre. It can be found here

Source: Australian Minister for Veterans' Affairs

Images: Peter Alhadeff, Centenary News

Posted by: Peter Alhadeff, Centenary News