Spirit of Remembrance - Australian Battlefield Tours

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Image Library: WW1 AIF Memorials France : Assorted Images:

 Please be patient while the Australian WW1 Image Library loads as it is a large file. Note: This library features many photographs regarding the terrible  battle of Fromelles. Jimmy Downing, author of 'To the Last Ridge' ( a superb read) was there and describes the bloody carnage of Fromelles:

"Stammering scores of German machine-guns spluttered violently, drowning the noise of the cannonade. The air was thick with bullets, swishing in a flat cris-crossed lattice of death ... Hundreds were mown down in the flicker of an eyelid, like great rows of teeth knocked from a comb ... Men were cut in two by streams of bullets [that] swept like whirling knives ... It was the charge of the Light Brigade once more, but more terrible, more hopeless."


Fromelles was the worst 24 hours in Australia's entire history where they sustained over five and a half THOUSAND casualties in one night. The  casualty rate at Fromelles was equivalent to the total combined Australian casualties of  the Boer War, Korean and Vietnam War - together and in one 6-8 hour period. It was a totally and strategically useless massacre, and although the Australian 15th Brigade commander Brigadier General 'Pompey' Elliot desperately tried to prevent it from happening he was overidden by the British Commander in Chief Sir Douglas Haig. One-third of the Australian casualties at Fromelles were in Elliott's 15th Brigade.

Afterwards Elliott greeted shocked survivors as they returned. Decades later, Lieutenant Neil Freeman remembered seeing Elliott "with tears streaming down his face"; as he shook hands with the "pitiful remnant of his brigade". (* Note: Interestingly enough Downing became Elliot's legal partner after the war, but Elliot committed suicide in 1931 - directly attributable to the war and in particular the bloodbath at Fromelles.)

Here's an incredibly moving, wonderful and topical article on 'Pompey' Elliot and his leadership. A must read!

 

 Our other Battlefields & Remembrance Websites:
 Spirit of Remembrance: Battlefield Tours UK: Battlefield Tours Canada: Battlefield Tours USA: 75th Anniversary D-Day;  Anzac Day Hellfire Pass: Thailand