Sunday, November 7, 2010

Remembering Fromelles

The Battle of Fromelles took place in France on 19th and 20th July 1916. The battle had been planned as a diversion for the Battle of the Somme but as the date for the battle approached the possible non-success of the attack was discussed by military leaders however they did not abort the campaign.

Fromelles was the first battle fought in France by the AIF. Five thousand three hundred Australian men were killed, wounded or taken prisoner during the battle of less 24 hours. The remains of many of those killed were never discovered. After the war the Imperial (Commonwealth) Graves Commission created cemeteries for reburying and commemorating war dead but many of the bodies of Australian and British soldiers who fought at Fromelles were never recovered.

A Victorian school teacher, Lambis Englezos, led a campaign to discover additional sites where the soldiers may have been buried. Eventually it was discovered that the Germans had buried many of the bodies and returned the soldier's tags to their families via the Red Cross. This book describes the excavation of the graves, the archaeology involved, the objects found at the site, the attempts to identify the bodies and the reburying of the bodies in a new cemetery at Fromelles in June 2010. Not all the bodies have been identified but research is continuing and if identification is made, the name of the soldier will be added to the appropriate grave.

Illustrated with many photographs this book provides an account of the work involved in identifying soldiers who died during the First World War and the respect with which the bodies are examined and reburied.

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