The centenary remembrance service at Fromelles (Pheasant Wood) Military Cemetery on July 19 (Photo: Commonwealth War Graves Commission)

Australia honours the Fallen at Fromelles

Posted on on 25 July 2016
Share |

Australia is holding commemorations in Northern France marking the first major battles fought by its forces on the Western Front a century ago.

Ceremonies were held on July 19th paying tribute to those who fell in the attack by British and Australian troops at Fromelles on this day in 1916.

The focus for the main remembrance service was Fromelles (Pheasant Wood) Military Cemetery, last resting place for 250 soldiers, most of them Australian, whose bodies were discovered in mass graves in 2008.

New headstones were dedicated to six men who've recently been identified.

In his address, Australian Veterans' Affairs Minister Dan Tehan said: "Fromelles became the place where Australia first realised the full force and horror of industrialised warfare."

Tributes were also paid at VC Corner Australian Cemetery and the 'Cobbers' memorial (above) on the former battlefields of Fromelles (Photo: Centenary News)

The Battle of Fromelles was over in 24 hours - but it's remembered as the bloodiest day in Australian military history. 

Australian forces suffered more than 5,500 casualties, including almost 2,000 killed, in an assault on heavily-defended German positions near Lille, aimed at diverting attention from the Allied offensive on the Somme.

The 61st British Division lost over 1,500 men, with more than 500 dead.

Days later, Australian troops were sent into action on the Somme itself. The Battle of Pozières will be the focus for Australia's next First World War commemorations remembering the Western Front on July 23rd.

Fromelles (Pheasant Wood) Cemetery, dedicated in 2010, was built by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission to provide burials with military honours for the bodies of the 250 soldiers exhumed from mass graves. The story is told at the Battle of Fromelles Museum, opened next to the cemetery in 2014. Read more here in Centenary News. 

Sources: Commonwealth War Graves Commission; Government of South Australia

Images courtesy of CWGC - Pheasant Wood Cemetery; Centenary News - 'Cobbers' memorial

Posted by: CN Editorial Team