* Our 2016 100 Year Centenary Tour for Battle of Fromelles and Pozieres 1916
Spirit of Remembrance is operating a very special 100 year anniversary visit tour for the Battle of Fromelles which took place on July 19/20 1916. Our tour is based around the actual events of this battle and we will be attending the official Australian government commemorative anniversary ceremony on the 19th July 2016. ( 01 June 2016: **Tour is now fully booked)
The tour includes the official '100 year commemoration Service' for both Fromelles and Pozieres. Full details including itinerary and costs for this once in a lifetime tour are here. (* This 100 year Centenary Tour will also include attending the official Australian Government commemorative anniversary ceremony at Pozieres on the 23rd July 2016.)
Released by the major global TV documentary producer Globetrekker (Lonely Planet) on 4 August 2014 for the 100 year anniversary of WW1, Spirit of Remembrance was honoured to be selected by Globetrekker to cover the battle of Fromelles and 'Pheasants Wood' cemetery with Zay Harding, the popular presenter for this series. Globetrekker is broadcast in over 40 countries across 6 continents. * Watch the clip of our Fromelles presentation HERE.
* See our Fromelles, Aussie VC Corner & Australian Memorial Park Photo Gallery HERE
Interest is already quite high for this special centenary tour and demand will far outstrip availability. In Fromelles, the ceremony will be held at Pheasants Wood cemetery - which is a small cemetery and space WILL be very limited. Please CONTACT US for advance listing on this very special centenary tour.
* A new museum at Fromelles, adjacent to the Fromelles (Pheasant Wood) Military Cemetery opened on 18 July 2014. The museum tells the story of Australia's disastrous involvement in it's first battle in France at Fromelles in 1916, and include objects on loan from the Australian War Memorial and other collections.
The Battle of Fromelles on the 19th and 20th July 1916 was where the First Australian Imperial Force (AIF) first saw action on the Western Front in France. The 5th Australian division and British 61st (South Midland) attacked a 4,000 yard section of the German frontline centred around hugely fortified German strongpoint called the "Sugar Loaf".
Conceived as a diversionary tactic for the main battle at the Somme, the Battle of Fromelles was a subsidiary attack to support the Fourth Army fighting on the Somme 80 kilometres (50 mi) to the south, supposedly to "test" any weakening of the German defences opposite.
Preparations for the attack were rushed, both the Australian and the British troops involved lacked any experience in trench warfare and the strength of the German defence was "gravely" underestimated. It was an absolute disaster, primarily because of the appalling generalship by the British high command demanding advances across open ground - facing one of the most fortified and impregnable German sections of the Western front, and in the face of hundreds of machine gun posts.
Thousands died on the first day of the offensive, and the action is widely regarded as "the worst 24 hours in Australia's entire history". It is estimated that over 5,500 Australians and 2,000 British troops were killed or wounded in a single night in this action alone.
Here is a first hand account of the battle of Fromelles in an Australian soldiers letter from an amazing new site we have joined with, called "Just a Few Lines" which is a series of original letters back home from 2 brothers on the Western Front telling first hand of the actions they took part in and general news of the time.
Sadly one of them was Killed in this action, (*read the quite amazing letter back home from the surviving brother to his father. He is commemorated in the CWGC Australian VC Corner cemetery as he has no known grave) (CWG notice). His surviving brother was not even aware his brother was killed until months afterwards.
Overall, these letters don't even start to cover the bravery and amazing courage of these young men and their 'laid back' attitude in the face of certain death. The laconic and brief descriptions in the letters of these horrific battles demonstrates the enormous bravery of these young men, and is actually sometimes quite unsettling to read the letters with their understated brevity when compared to our modern, "over- hyped" and "over-reported" world of today. Overall the letters are a must read!
An interesting historical note is that Adolf Hitler is believed to have served here as a messenger with the 6th Bavarian Reserve Division
(Spirit of Remembrance is proud to have been the leading consultant for the major documentary on WW1 from Pilot Productions released in August 2014. (Our clip from documentary is featured on this page/website at the top of the page.)
There is a beautifully tended Australian War cemetery here called 'VC Corner'. It is a name bestowed on the area during the war referring either to the bravery of the Australian troops and/or the danger of the place that demanded such bravery as the VC is awarded to.
The cemetery contains 410 unidentified bodies retrieved from the battlefield after the war - over two years after the battle. There are no headstones in the cemetery and two large concrete crosses laid face down in the grass mark where the soldiers are buried. Although the graves are not individually marked, these are individual graves and not a mass grave.
The memorial lists almost 1,300 Australian soldiers who were lost in the battle and who's remains were never identified nor found. The bodies of another 160 AIF soldiers (and 239 British soldiers) were recovered by the Germans after the battle and buried behind the German lines.
Pheasants Wood Cemetery:
In May 2008, the remains of some of these soldiers were finally located in mass graves on the outskirts of Fromelles. A total of 250 British and Australian soldiers from this site have already been reburied in the new Pheasant Wood Cemetery nearby which was dedicated in 2010. Ongoing detective forensic work has now identified more Australian and British soldiers from the battle with more being painstakingly identified month by month.
We strongly recommend Fromelles as a 'must visit' stay during any Aussies visit to the Western Front.