Headstone Rededication and Commemoration at Fromelles 19 July 2018

On a very hot and sunny day, the Headstone Rededication and Commemoration of the Battle of Fromelles was held at Fromelles (Pheasant Wood) Military Cemetery. The Service on Thursday 19 July commenced at 6pm, exactly 102 years after the scheduled time that the 5th Australian Division and 61st British Division attacked the German lines.  

2018 07 19 Fromelles Dedication - 0346 Flag Bearers copped

French Flag-bearers honour the Australian and British soldiers in the Battle of Fromelles.
All photographs by Carole Laignel, unless otherwise acknowledged
[Click on images to enlarge]

2018 07 19 Fromelles Dedication - 0381 Dignitaries & Geoffrey Benn

Dignitaries and descendants enter Fromelles (Pheasant Wood) Military Cemetery

2018 07 19 Fromelles Dedication - 0400 Catafalque Party

The Catafalque Party enters the Cemetery passing covered Headstones to be rededicated.

2018 07 19 Fromelles Dedication - 0420 Catafalque Party

Master of Ceremonies, Colonel Scott Clingan, Australian Defence Attache- Commemorations, Ms Jennifer Stephenson, First Secretary, Department of Veterans Affairs and Mayor Ms. Jean-Gabriel Masson welcomed dignitaries and guests.

Colonel Scott Clingan is a descendant of Private Alexander Clingan KIA 19 July and buried in Section 3, Row E, Grave 8. Col. Clingan’s cousin, John Clingan delivered the Family Reflection at the Sydney Fromelles Day Commemoration a few hours earlier.

After an Opening Prayer by Father Patrick Irwin and a Commemorative Address by the representative of the French Government, The Australian Ambassador to France, H. E. Brendan Berne gave his Commemorative Address, which is included with the Order of Service. Click here to see the Order of Service.

The Official wreath-laying followed.

2018 07 19 Fromelles Dedication - 0475 Martial Delebarre, Jean Marie Bailleul & Pierre Sellier & Geoffrey Benn

Wreath-laying by Martial Delebarre, Jean Marie Bailleul & Pierre Sellier & Geoffrey Benn

2018 07 19 Fromelles Dedication - 06842018 07 19 Fromelles Dedication - 0701

Wreaths laid at the Cross of Sacrifice.

The Headstone rededications followed for the 9 Australian Soldiers who fought in the Battle of Fromelles in France and were formally identified at the 2018 Fromelles Identification Board in April.

Captain Kenneth Malcolm MORTIMER, 29 Bn

2018 07 19 Fromelles Dedication - 0502 Pte J Smith, Capt K Mortimer, Pte S O'Donnell & Pte W Boyce2018 07 19 Fromelles Dedication - 0509 Capt K Mortimer

Headstone Dedications – Pte. J Smith and Capt K Mortimer. Awaiting Pte. S O’Donnell & Pte W Boyce [Click on images to enlarge]

2018 07 19 Fromelles Dedication - 0513 Pte J Smith & Capt K Mortimer2018 07 19 Fromelles Dedication - 0518 Pte Smith

Headstone Dedication Pte. J. Smith and Capt K Mortimer.
[Click on images to enlarge]

2018 07 19 Fromelles Dedication - 0519 Headstone Pte J Smith & Capt K Mortimer

Headstones Pte. J. Smith and Capt K Mortimer.
[Click on images to enlarge]

Private Henry BELL, 29 Bn

Henry (known as Harry) Bell was featured in Seeking Harry Bell, posted 11 July 2008.  This relates the many heart-felt letters from the Bell family seeking information about Harry . Harry Bell was a 39 year old insurance agent when he enlisted in the AIF on 8th July 1915 at Bendigo, in country Victoria. He was a prominent member of the Bendigo community having been the Secretary of the Bendigo Rose Society and a member of the organising committee for the Bendigo Egg Laying Competitions. Harry & Dorothy Bell were married shortly before his enlistment and embarkation aboard HMAT Ascanius from Melbourne in November 1915.

A decade ago, the Families and Friends of the First AIF was advocating that the Australian Government through the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs should commit the to re-burial of the “missing of Fromelles” with individual graves and headstones in a new Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery at Pheasant Wood after DNA testing. A decade later, it is pleasing that DNA testing has enabled Harry’s relatives to help his identity to be restored, along with many of his comrades and that Harry and his comrades has been honoured with a reburial with full military honours and individual headstones.

2018 07 19 Fromelles Dedication - 0544 Headstone Pte H Bell

Photo: Private Henry Bell [AWM DA09996] and his Headstone
This photo of Harry has been reproduced with the permission of the Australian War Memorial

Private William Edwin BOYCE, 32Bn

2018 07 19 Fromelles Dedication - 0498 Pte W Boyce2018 07 19 Fromelles Dedication - 0541 Pte S O'Donnell & Pte W Boyce

Headstone Dedication – Pte W. Boyce
[Click on images to enlarge]

Private Henry GARDNER, 30 Bn

2018 07 19 Fromelles Dedication - 0527 Pte H Gardner2018 07 19 Fromelles Dedication - 0532 Headstone Pte H Gardner - Copy

Headstone Dedication – Pte H Gardner

Private Alexander McCULLOCH, 32 Bn

2018 07 19 Fromelles Dedication - 0547 Pte Alex McCulloch and Geoffrey Benn 2018 07 19 Fromelles Dedication - 0550 Pte Alex McCulloch and Geoffrey Benn 2018 07 19 Fromelles Dedication - 0552 Pte Alex McCulloch and Geoffrey Benn 2018 07 19 Fromelles Dedication - 0554 Pte Alex McCulloch and Geoffrey Benn

Headstone Dedication -Pte Alexander McCulloch with Geoffrey Benn
[Click on images to enlarge]

2018 07 19 Fromelles Dedication - 0578 Pte Alex McCulloch and Geoffrey Benn 2018 07 19 Fromelles Dedication - 0584 Headstone Pte Alex McCulloch2018 07 19 Fromelles Dedication - 0581 Pte Alex McCulloch and Geoffrey Benn 2018 07 19 Fromelles Dedication - 0583 Pte Alex McCulloch and Geoffrey Benn

Headstone Dedication -Pte Alexander McCulloch with Geoffrey Benn
[Click on images to enlarge]

Private Stanley Richard O’DONNELL, 29 Bn

2018 07 19 Fromelles Dedication - 0541 Pte S O'Donnell & Pte W Boyce2018 07 19 Fromelles Dedication - 0542 Headstone Pte S O'Donnell - Copy

Headstone Dedications Pte S O’Donnell & Pte W Boyce

Private James Robert SMITH, 31 Bn

2018 07 19 Fromelles Dedication - 0502 Pte J Smith, Capt K Mortimer, Pte S O'Donnell & Pte W Boyce 2018 07 19 Fromelles Dedication - 0511 Pte J Smith

 Headstone Dedication Pte. J. Smith
[Click on images to enlarge]

 2018 07 19 Fromelles Dedication - 0513 Pte J Smith & Capt K Mortimer2018 07 19 Fromelles Dedication - 0518 Pte Smith

Headstone Dedication Pte. J. Smith
[Click on images to enlarge]

 Corporal Alfred THOMPSON, 55 Bn

2018 07 19 Fromelles Dedication - 0545 Pte A Thompson - Copy

Location of headstone of Cpl A Thompson – no photos of dedication available as yet
[Click on images to enlarge].

Private Claude YEO , 30 Bn

2018 07 19 Fromelles Dedication - 0500 Pte Yeo & Pte H Gardner 2018 07 19 Fromelles Dedication - 0481 Pte Yeo headstone - Geoffrey Benn

Location of headstone of Pte. C Yeo – no photos of dedication or headstone available as yet
[Click on images to enlarge].

 Following the headstone rededications, The Ode was recited, The Lasat Post sounded, followed by a minute’s silence and the Rouse sounded.

The National Anthems of France, Germany, The United Kingdom and Australia were played before a final prayer. The Flag Bearers and Official party then departed.

2018 07 19 Fromelles Dedication - 06292018 07 19 Fromelles Dedication - 0648

Descendants and guests mingled throughout the cemetery, paying their respects to individual soldiers.

2018 07 19 Fromelles Dedication - 06472018 07 19 Fromelles Dedication - 0645

[Click on images to enlarge].

  As the sun set over the battlefield of 102 years ago and the war graves at Fromelles ….

2018 07 19 Fromelles Dedication - 06912018 07 19 Fromelles Dedication - 0702

 At the going down of the sun, and in the morning,
We will remember them.

Lest we forget

2018 07 19 Fromelles Dedication - 0701

Thank you to Carole Laignel for her photographs and the copy of the Order of Service and for the welcome she gives to Australian visitors to Fromelles.

Thanks also to the Mayor and residents of Fromelles
for caring for our Australian soldiers lost so far from home,
and to the CWGC staff for caring for the graves of all Australian soldiers
buried across the globe.

 

This entry was posted in Fromelles. Bookmark the permalink.