6 headstones were dedicated at the commemoration service at the Fromelles (Pheasant Wood) Military Cemetery. Now 150 of the 250 headstones indicate the identity of the soldier whose grave it marks. The identities of a further 78 of the 100 soldiers buried in the cemetery with full military honours in 2010 are known, but not yet matched to the headstone marking their grave.
More than 2,500 people attended the service on a day when the temperature rose above 35C, similar to when the cemetery was dedicated in 2010. The commemoration service was shown live on ABC TV, as was the commemorative service at VC Corner and both are available in ABC iview as Australia Remembers: WW1 Centenary Services
Pheasant Wood Commemorative Service and Headstone Dedication or
VC Corner Commemorative Service or
Sydney Procession from the Archibald Fountain to the ANZAC Memorial Commemorative Service
The Families and Friends of the First AIF hosted the 100th Anniversary Commemoration of The Battle of Fromelles at The ANZAC Memorial Hyde Park, Sydney on Tuesday 19 July 2016. On a warm sunny morning, the Commemoration was preceded by a commemorative walk from the Archibald Fountain to the ANZAC Memorial celebrating the bond between Australia and France in The Great War. The procession was led by Professor the Hon. Dame Marie Bashir AD CVO and the President of FFFAIF, Jim Munro and FFFAIF member Jill Hayes, M. Nicolas Croizer, Consul-General for the Republic of France, The Hon Luke Foley MP, Leader of the Opposition, The Hon David Elliott MP, Minister for Veteran’s Affairs, Mr. John Haines AM, Acting President, NSW RSL and Mr Peter Poulet, NSW Government Architect and Mr Ken Corke, Director, Office of Australian War Graves and Mr Hadyn White of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs. . They were supported by M Jean Louis Worobec and members of the French North African Veterans’ Association and members of FFFAIF and the public.
The procession travelled the distance of “400 yards”, equivalent to the widest part of “No-man’s land” on the Fromelles battlefield, and paid homage to the 5th Division veterans marching to the ANZAC Memorial for the 50th anniversary commemoration in 1966. The participants in the procession were greeted by FFFAIF Commemorations Officer Margaret Snodgrass and joined those gathered at the ANZAC Memorial including ANZAC Centenary Ambassadors and the Trustees of the ANZAC Memorial as well as Deputy Commissioner David Hudson APM of the NSW Police Force, representatives of the Armed Forces, Ex-Service organisations, War Widows and descendants. The Holy Family Choir Menai sang some Gathering songs and led more than 200 attendees in singing the Recessional: O Valiant Hearts, after which Master of Ceremonies, Darren Mitchell commenced the Commemoration with a period of silence for the Bastille Day victims in Nice, and their grieving families.
A message from the Patron of the FFAIF, and Governor General of Australia His Excellency General the Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove AK MC (Retd) was read before the Prologue was delivered by the Hon. Mike Baird MP, Premier of New South Wales who emphasised the strength of the bond between France and Australia a century ago and today.
Pastor Bob Durbin led a prayer, followed by Major-General Gus Gilmore, AO, DSC of The Australian Army delivering the Commemorative Address.
Major-General Gus Gilmore, AO, DSC of The Australian Army delivering the Commemorative Address
The Consul-General for the Republic of France, M. Nicolas Croizer, delivered a Message from France, expressing appreciation for Australian support since The Great War and continuing today. A Family Reflection was delivered by FFFAIF member, Mrs Margaret Darling, conveying the impact on their family of the search for the “missing” soldiers Fromelles and the re-discovery of their graves, exhumation, identification and re-interment with full military honours. Wreaths were laid while Piper Jim Braid played the Lament.
Wreath laying supported by the RSL Corps of Guards (L to R), Hon. Mike Baird MP, Premier of New South Wales, M. Nicolas Croizer, Consul-General for the Republic of France, Major-General Gus Gilmore, AO, DSC of The Australian Army, Mrs Rhondda Vanzella OAM, State President War Widows Guild, The Hon David Elliott MP, Minister for Veteran’s Affairs on behalf of the Trustees of the ANZAC Memorial and Mr. John Haines AM, Acting President, NSW RSL for the Fifth Division of the AIF.
Laying wreaths were Mr. John Haines AM, Acting President, NSW RSL for the Fifth Division of the AIF, Professor The Hon Dame Marie Bashir AD, CVO and
Mr Jean-Louis Worobec, President of the French Veterans’ Association.
Also laying wreaths were:
The Hon Luke Foley MP, Leader of the Opposition,
Wing Commander Kylie Cimen, representing the Air Commander Australia on behalf of the Royal Australian Air Force.
Deputy Commissioner David Hudson representing the NSW Police Commissioner, on behalf of the NSW Police Force, together with
Mr Ken Corke, Director, Office of Australian War Graves, and
Mr Hadyn White on behalf of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs.
Mrs Margaret Darling, Mr John Darling and Mr Harrison Tebb in memory of Ernest Jentsch and
Mr Royce Lockhart, Vice President, Australian World War One Descendants,
Mr Roger Selby, Secretary, NSW Association of Jewish Ex-Service Men and Women
President Mr Mark McIntyre and Mr Malcolm Little OAM CStJ representing Canterbury-Hurlstone Park RSL Sub-branch,
President Mr Ron Brown OAM and Mr George Sachse, Representing The National Servicemen’s Association NSW.
The Last Post was played by Terry McCleary of the Fire and Rescue NSW Band before FFFAIF member and grandson of Margaret Darling, Harrison Tebb recited The Ode followed by silence and The Rouse. After a closing prayer and blessing, the Epilogue was delivered by President of FFFAIF, Jim Munro and the National Anthems of France and Australia were sung to close the commemoration.
After the commemorations, refreshments of ANZAC biscuits and warm beverages encouraged social interactions while special guests were farewelled by Mr Jim Munro, Ms Jill Hayes and Mrs Margaret Snodgrass.
Special thanks go the Trustees of the ANZAC Memorial, their staff, and contractors for providing the marquees, sound system and to the caterers Fit for a King. The presence of the Holy Family Choir of Menai and the RSL Corps of Guards and the Australian Army Flag Party along with the French Veterans contributed significantly to the solemnity and formality of the commemoration as did Master of Ceremonies, Darren Mitchell and Protocol Manager, Alexander Weilsmann and FFFAIF member Jill Hayes. Photographer Rob Tuckwell has provided a good photographic record of the occasion.
Special thanks go to the Organising Committee of Margaret Snodgrass, Darren Mitchell, Belinda Mitrovich, Michael Trenear, Alexander Weilsmann, Franziska Zuercher Mindrup, Nick Young, Jeff O’Brien, Douglas James, Rosie Patrielli, and Program designer Anneke Jasinski.
Jim Munro, President of FFFAIF