The Families and Friends of the First AIF in conjunction with the Trustees of the Anzac Memorial, hosted the Commemoration of the 102nd anniversary of the Battle of Fromelles at The Anzac Memorial Hyde Park, Sydney on Thursday 19 July 2018.
The Battle of Fromelles in northern France on 19-20 July 2016 was the first battle involving Australian troops on the Western Front following the withdrawal from Gallipoli. It was and remains the largest loss of Australian life in a 24-hour period with 1,917 killed or died of wounds, 3,416 wounded and 496 taken prisoner totalling 5,533 casualties. In 2008, the graves of 250 soldiers buried by the Germans after the battle were located and in 2010 reinterred in the new Fromelles (Pheasant Wood) Military Cemetery and 159 of these soldiers have now been identified by name.
The Commemoration was preceded by a Commemorative Procession of about 90 people on a mild winter morning from the Archibald Fountain that commemorates the association of Australia and France in The Great War to the Anzac Memorial.
All images by Rob Tuckwell Photography – Click to enlarge
The Commemorative Procession re-enacts the veterans of the Australian 5th Division marching to the ANZAC Memorial on the 50th anniversary of the Battle to pass to the Trustees the responsibility for remembering their service and sacrifice and that of their fallen comrades in perpetuity.
The Commemorative Procession leaving the Archibald Fountain.
The Commemorative Procession was led by civic leaders and senior officers from military and civilian services. Following the Australian National Flag Party from the Australian Army were:
The Hon Scott Farlow MLC, Parliamentary Secretary to the Premier in the Legislative Council and Jim Munro, President, Families and Friends of the First AIF
Michael Ward, Consul-General and Director-General of Trade & Investment for the United Kingdom and M. Pierre Bianconi, Deputy Consul-General for the Republic of France
The Honourable Lynda Voltz MLC, Shadow Minister for Veterans’ Affairs & Sport representing the Leader of the NSW Opposition, an Anzac Memorial Trustee and Dr Patricia Jenkings, President United Nations Association of Australia (NSW)
Dr John Vallance, State Librarian and Chief Executive, State Library of NSW, an Anzac Memorial Trustee and Jill Hayes, FFFAIF Committee Member.
Meg Green, National President, War Widows’ Guild of Australia, and Dianne Vogt representing the President, NSW War Widows’ Guild of Australia.
Harry Allie BEM, Chair of the NSW Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Veterans Commemoration Service Committee and Hadyn White representing the Deputy Commissioner NSW/ACT, Department of Veteran Affairs
Brigadier Neil Sweeney AM, Deputy Commander 2nd Division, representing Commander, Forces Command, The Australian Army and
Captain Amanda Garlick, Representative of Fleet Commander, RAN and
Group Captain ‘Chaplain’ Peter Friend representing Air Commander Australia, RAAF
Inspector Rob Winkler, Sydney City Police Area Command representing NSW Police and Superintendent Michael Bray, representing the NSW Ambulance Service and Deputy Commissioner Jim Hamilton, representing NSW Fire and Rescue.
They were supported by members of the NSW RSL Corps of Guards, French North African Veterans’ Association (the Association des Anciens Combattants Francais (NSW)) led by M Jean Louis Worobec and a Wreath Carrying Party from St Clare’s College, Waverley, including Kate O’Sullivan, Immi Barham, Lily Garrett, Kiara Odishu and Natalia Rey, with HSIE Coordinator, Kirstie Mason. Members of FFFAIF and Descendants’ organisations including The Fromelles Association, Australian World War One Descendants NAJEX (NSW Association of Jewish Service & Ex-Service Men & Women) and Legacy as well as descendants of soldiers who participated in the Battle.
The Commemorative Procession approaching the Anzac Memorial with the Australian National Flag Party, Association des Anciens Combattants Francais (NSW) & NSW RSL Corps of Guards. All images by Rob Tuckwell Photography – [Click on image to enlarge]
The procession symbolically represents the “400 yards”, 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.
Special thanks go to the Procession Marshall, Lt. Col. Paul Simadas RFD, Vice President Families and Friends of the First AIF and Chairman, Australian Branch, Western Front Association who co-ordinated many of the arrangements for the Procession including liaising with the NSW Police and City of Sydney Events Team to ensure the security for the Procession and safe passage across Park Street and establishing the Order of Procession.
Commemoration of the 102nd Anniversary of the Battle of Fromelles
At the Anzac Memorial, a further gathering of about the same size as the Procession, including descendants, Anzac Centenary Ambassadors and the Trustees of the Anzac Memorial listened to music played by the NSW Police Band led by Director of Music John Saunders and Nearer My God to Thee and Requiem for a Soldier sung by The Holy Family Choir Menai. Click here to see the Order of Service.
The participants in the Commemorative Procession were greeted by FFFAIF Commemorations Officer Margaret Snodgrass supported by members of the NSW RSL Corps of Guards and after they were seated The Holy Family Choir Menai led more than 200 attendees in singing O Valiant Hearts.
Master of Ceremonies, and FFFAIF Member Darren Mitchell welcomed guests and read a Vice Regal Message from His Excellency General the Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove AK MC, Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia and FFFAIF Patron-in-Chief. Click here to read the Vice Regal Message.
Harry Allie BEM, Chair of the NSW Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Veterans Commemoration Service Committee and a member of the NSW Centenary of Anzac Advisory Council was invited to deliver an Acknowledgement of Country on behalf of Aboriginal elders. You can hear Harry’s Acknowledgement of Country on the Anzac Memorial’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/AnzacMemorial.
The Prologue was delivered by The Hon Scott Farlow MLC, Parliamentary Secretary to the Premier in the Legislative Council representing the Premier of New South Wales and the Hon. David Elliott MP, Minister for Veterans’ Affairs. You can hear Scott’s Prologue on the Anzac Memorial’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/AnzacMemorial.
Pastor Bob Durbin, Chaplain with RSL LifeCafe led a prayer, followed by the Holy Family Choir Menai leading the singing of Abide with Me.
Brigadier Neil Sweeney AM, Deputy Commander 2nd Division, The Australian Army delivered the Commemorative Address giving some insights into the Battle of Fromelles and why it was a disaster and acknowledged how it had impacted upon many families. He also its reflected on its legacy, particularly for modern military leaders in areas such as assessing intelligence, identification and management of risks, the importance of communications, and welfare of serving military personnel and supporting them and their families both during and after their military service. You can hear Brigadier Sweeney’s Commemorative Address on the Anzac Memorial’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/AnzacMemorial.
|Brigadier Neil Sweeney AM, Deputy Commander 2nd Division of The Australian Armydelivering the Commemorative Address||The Clingan and Grogan Family ReflectionJohn Clingan|
John Clingan delivered a unique Family Reflection for the Clingan and Grogan Families. John’s great uncle, Private Alexander Stanley Clingan 53rd Bn was Killed in Action at Fromelles, buried by the Germans after the battle and has been identified through DNA matching. John told of when, after he and his wife Dorothy had attended Alexander’s headstone dedication in 2010, they then went to VC Corner Cemetery and were separately looking through the list of names on the walls and Dorothy saw the name of her great uncle Sgt Vince Grogan, 60th Bn, also Killed in Action. Possibly the two great uncles met, Alexander from Waterloo in Sydney and Vince from Bairnsdale, Victoria, possibly not, but their descendants did, fell in love and have raised their children and now have a unique Fromelles connection. Vincent is also on the list of those soldiers buried by the Germans near Pheasant Wood and so the family is now trying to find suitable DNA donors.
You can hear John’s Family reflection on the Anzac Memorial’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/AnzacMemorial.
In a small world co-incidence, the Master of Ceremonies for the Dedication of 9 newly named headstones and the Commemoration at Fromelles in France later that day was John’s cousin Colonel Scott Clingan, Australian Defence Attache – Commemorations, at the Australian Embassy in Paris.
Wreaths were laid while Piper Jim Braid played the Lament, alternating with the NSW Police Band. Jim Braid is a relative of Sgt James Dodd 53rd Bn and Pte Downie Dodd 56th Bn KIA at Fromelles.
Piper Jim Braid played the Lament, alternating with the NSW Police Band During the wreath-laying
|Miss Immi Barham, St Clare’s College, Waverley, reciting The Ode.||The Last Post was sounded by Bugler Terry McCleary of the Fire and Rescue NSW Band.||Flag Orderlies from The Australian Army|
The Ode was recited by Miss Immi Barham, St Clare’s College, Waverley before the Last Post was played by Terry McCleary of the Fire and Rescue NSW Band followed by silence and The Rouse. Terry’s wife Leonie is a relative of Capt Archibald Gunter MC 54th Bn, Wounded at Fromelles. You can hear The Ode and Last Post sounded on the Anzac Memorial’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/AnzacMemorial.
Flag Orderlies from The Royal Australian Navy
The Choir and the Police Band led the singing of I Vow to Thee My Country before a closing prayer and blessing from Pastor Bob Durbin.
The Epilogue was delivered by President of FFFAIF, Jim Munro. Mr Munro recognised that:
“Today we honour the service and sacrifice of those who fought in the Battle of Fromelles – they did what their country asked of them. They had little or no experience in trench warfare, they had not worn steel hats before. They were keen to gain experiences and reputations that would leave the disappointment of Gallipoli behind. They now had their own commanders, who were somewhat experience; they now had artillery, although it had little experience; and they had their own machine guns. It is these ordinary men, with their aspirations and enthusiasm that we honour today – 102 years after they went into battle– we owe it to them and their families to honour their service and sacrifice”.
It is also 86 years ago today that the Foundation Stones were laid for this Anzac Memorial in 1932. – one by a soldier (Sir Phillip Game, the Governor of NSW) and the other by a citizen (Bertram Stevens, the Premier of New South Wales) to highlight the loss to the community inflicted by the Great War. Mr Munro invited all those who attended today to return on this day next year to show that this loss is not forgotten.
He said he was particularly pleased to see that another nine (9) of the soldiers reported as killed with no known grave have been identified and now have their own named headstone over their final resting place. There are still about 1,100 soldiers who were killed in the Battle of Fromelles and lie in un-named graves and Mr Munro called for all Australians who have a relative killed in the Battle of Fromelles to provide a DNA sample to the Unrecovered War Casualty Unit of the Army to help identify more of these men and help them get their identity back.
Deputy Consul-General for the Republic of France, M. Pierre Bianconi, delivering a Message from France
The Deputy Consul-General for the Republic of France, M. Pierre Bianconi, delivered a Message from France, expressing appreciation for Australian support since The Great War and continuing today and the National Anthems of France, the United Kingdom and Australia were sung to close the commemoration. You can hear The Message from France and the National Anthems on the Anzac Memorial’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/AnzacMemorial.
Special thanks go to the Trustees of the Anzac Memorial, their staff, and contractors for providing the marquees and sound system. The presence of the Pastor Bob Durbin, Holy Family Choir of Menai, the NSW Police Band and the NSW RSL Corps of Guards and the Australian Army Flag Party and the Flag Orderlies from Army and Navy, who along with the French War Veterans contributed significantly to the formality and dignity of the commemoration. Special Guests Harry Allie BEM, The Hon Scott Farlow MLC, Brigadier Neil Sweeney AM, John Clingan, and Miss Immi Barham and Deputy Consul-General Pierre Bianconi enriched the Commemoration. Procession Marshall Paul Simadas, Master of Ceremonies Darren Mitchell and FFFAIF Committee Members Margaret Snodgrass and Jill Hayes helped the Commemoration run smoothly. Photographer Rob Tuckwell created a good photographic record and Rosie Patrielli streamed parts of the service live to the Anzac Memorial’s Facebook page at facebook.com/AnzacMemorial, which are still available for viewing.
Brigadier Neil Sweeney AM and Deputy Consul-General Pierre Bianconi and
Warrant Officer Class One Rod Cornick OAM the French War Veterans
Deputy Consul-General Pierre Bianconi and Bugler Terry McCleary and Piper Jim Braid
Anzac Memorial Senior Operations Co-ordinator Belinda Mitrovich
Procession Marshall Paul Simadas and Master of Ceremonies Darren Mitchell
Special thanks also to the Organising Committee of FFFAIF Members Margaret Snodgrass OAM, Darren Mitchell, Jill Hayes, Paul Simadas, Geoff Lewis and Royce Atkinson, Anzac Memorial Senior Operations Coordinator Belinda Mitrovich and Property Manager, Michael Trenear, Iain Finlay Adjutant and Pam Richardson OAM, Assistant Adjutant of the NSW RSL Corps of Guards, Warrant Officer Class One Rod Cornick OAM, Regimental Sergeant Major, Joint Ceremonial NSW of the Australian Army and Rosie Patrielli, Fundraising and Communications, Centenary of Anzac, Office for Veterans Affairs (NSW).
President of FFFAIF