Fromelles Day Sydney 19 July 2022: Commemorative Procession from the Archibald Fountain to the Anzac Memorial and Commemorative Service

Commemorative Procession from the Archibald Fountain to the Anzac Memorial

The Families and Friends of the First AIF in conjunction with the Trustees of the Anzac Memorial, hosted the Commemoration of the 106th anniversary of the Battle of Fromelles at The Anzac Memorial Hyde Park, Sydney on Tuesday 19 July 2022. It was the third Fromelles Day Commemoration during the era of the COVID19 pandemic with the 2020 Commemoration being a “closed event” with attendance capped at 35 attendees and the 2021 Commemoration being cancelled and a single FFFAIF supplied wreath being laid by the staff of the Anzac Memorial. Following the easing of Coronavirus restrictions, a limited Commemorative Procession and Commemoration with dignitaries and consular representatives and representatives of ex-service and descendant organisations was held with physical distancing encouraged. While risk management measures had been incorporated to protect those attending, each person attending was requested to take responsibility for their own well being as well as that of other attendees.

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 at least 1,917 killed or died of wounds, 3,416 wounded and 496 taken prisoner totalling 5,533 casualties. These included the 250 men buried by the Germans after the battle whose graves were located in 2008 and were exhumed and in 2010 were reinterred in the new Fromelles (Pheasant Wood) Military Cemetery. 166 of these soldiers have now been identified by archaeological and anthropological analysis as well as DNA matching with relatives and now have their named headstone.

The Commemorative Procession leaving the Archibald Fountain.
All images are by Mick O’Flynn for Community Photography unless otherwise acknowledged [Click on images to see more detail]

The Commemoration was preceded by a Commemorative Procession of about 30 people on a cool winter morning with scattered showers from the Archibald Fountain that commemorates the association of Australia and France in The Great War to the Anzac Memorial. 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.

 
FFFAIF Procession Marshall Lt. Col. Paul Simadas RFD inviting participants to assemble for the Procession

Marie Gittard, Bernard Fontaine, Trevor Edwards, John Hitchen, Belgian Consul Michael Caluwaerts, Howard Collins, NSW Police Band Drummer Dave Armstrong, Paul Simadas, Forgotten Diggers Founder, John Thomas, NAJEX President Roger Selby

 Assembling for the Procession
Geoffrey Benn FAA & Victoria Benz DVA, Brendan Nelson and Jim Munday, Member for Willoughby Tim James MP [Click on images to see more detail]

Permission was obtained from the City of Sydney and NSW Police for the Commemorative Procession with physical distancing requested of participants. The Procession was then escorted by NSW Police Officers to the Anzac Memorial.

The Commemorative Procession re-enacted the final Parade of the veterans of the 5th Division on the 50th anniversary of the Battle marching to the ANZAC Memorial to request that the Trustees of the Anzac Memorial always remember their service and the sacrifice of their comrades on 19 July. A record of the Parade and Ceremony held in Hyde Park on 19 July 1966 is at Annexure C.

Flag Ensigns Geoffrey Benn, President Fromelles Association with M. Bernard Fontaine, French War Veterans of NSW at the head of the Commemorative Procession
[Images by Paul Simadas]

The Commemorative Procession was led by a Flag Party escorted by NSW Police Band Drummer Dave Armstrong. The Australian National Flag Ensign was Geoffrey Benn, President Fromelles Association of Australia, whose relative, 20 year-old Acting Sergeant William Polding Ryan, 31 Bn was Killed in the Battle of Fromelles and whose body was buried by the Germans after the battle and identified through DNA matching and now lies in the Fromelles (Pheasant Wood) Military Cemetery. The French Tricolour was carried by M. Bernard Fontaine, representing the Association des Anciens Combatants Francais de Nouvelle Galles du Sud (French War Veterans of NSW).

Civic Dignitaries and Consular representatives as well as representatives of ex-service and descendant organisations participated in the Commemorative Procession.

 
The Commemorative Procession at Park Street


The Commemorative Procession at Hyde Park South approaching the Pool of Reflection

Participants in the Commemorative Procession included:

NSW Police Band Drummer, Musician Dave Armstrong;

Australian National Flag bearer Geoffrey Benn, President, Fromelles Association of Australia, honouring A/Sgt William Ryan, 31Bn, KIA Fromelles;

French National Flag bearer Bernard Fontaine, representing the French Veterans Association of New South Wales.

Mr Tim James MP, Member for Willoughby representing
The Hon. Dominic Perrottet MP, Premier of New South Wales and
Chair, The Anzac Memorial Trustees and
the Minister for Veterans, The Hon David Elliott MP;

Mr Phillip Chin Board Director, for Mr Ray James, President, The Returned and Services League of Australia NSW Branch;

Dr Marjorie O’Neill MP, The Member for Coogee, representing The NSW Opposition Leader and the Shadow Minister for Veterans, Mr Greg Warren MP;

Mr. Jonathan Cook, Deputy Consul-General of United Kingdom;

Mr. Bill Dobbie, Consul-General of New Zealand;

Mrs. Anne Boillon, Consul-General Republic of France;

Ms. Marie Gittard, French Veterans Delegate General for Australia;

Consul Michael Caluwaerts, representing the Ambassador of Belgium, His Excellency Mr Michel Goffin;

Ms Victoria Benz, Department of Veterans Affairs Deputy Commissioner NSW/ACT;

Howard Collins OBE, Chief Operations Officer, Transport for NSW; with

Bill Phippen OAM (52 NSW railway and tramway men died at Fromelles);

Lt. Col, Ian Henderson (Rtd), representing the President, Remembrance Driveway Committee;

The Hon. Dr Brendan Nelson AO, Chair, Australian War Memorial Council;

Jim Munro, FFFAIF President, honouring Lt Stuart Munro 55Bn and Pte Alex Laurie 30Bn both KIA Fromelles;

Jill Hayes, FFFAIF Committee Member;

Jim Munday, Fromelles descendant of the Wilson brothers and member Fromelles Association and FFFAIF;

John Thomas, Founder, Forgotten Diggers;

Terry-Anne O’Neill, 53Bn historian;

Mjr John Hitchen (Rtd) representing the Military History Society of New South Wales;

Commodore Michael Flynn (Rtd) representing The Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies NSW;

Roger Selby, President NSW Association of Jewish Service and Ex-Service Men & Women (NAJEX);

Annette Tebb, descendant of Ernest Jentsch, 53Bn, KIA Fromelles and honouring Madame Demassiet;

Julie Searant, Honouring her great uncles Lt James Murray (MBE) 55Bn & Lt Aubrey Murray (MC) 35Bn and Grandfather Sgt Harold Murray 30Bn;

Lorraine Henshaw, FFFAIF member honouring her relative.

FFFAIF Marshall Lt. Col. Paul Simadas RFD (also FFFAIF Vice President and Co-Chair Australian Branch of the Western Front Association).

Fromelles Commemorative Procession passing the Pool of Reflection on their way to the Anzac Memorial [Click on images to see more detail]

The Procession was greeted at the Anzac Memorial by:

Margaret Snodgrass OAM, FFFAIF Committee Member; and

Master of Ceremonies, Darren Mitchell.

Also at the Anzac Memorial were:

Ms Karen Dawson, Treasurer and Mrs Arline Ronsisvalle, Secretary (honouring Pte A Jones 55Bn, POW Fromelles) representing Australian World War One Descendants (AWWOD);

Barbara McGregor with Nicholas Doig honouring Pte. Hicks;

Mr Alexander Weilsman JP, Protocol Manager, Remembrance Driveway Council and Transport for New South Wales Commemorations;

and

Harry Allie BEM, Chair of the NSW Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Veterans Commemoration Service Committee;

Bugler, Terry McCleary, Fire & Rescue NSW Band, for Capt. Gunter 54Bn;

Piper Jim Braid, NSW Scottish Regimental Association Pipes and Drums, for Sgt James Dodd 53Bn and Pte Downie Dodd 55Bn KIA Fromelles;

Pastor, Bob Durbin, Chaplain, RSL LifeCare;

WO1 Darryl Holzhauser, Regimental Sergeant Major, Joint Ceremonial NSW of the Australian Army; and

Australian Amy Band Sydney Vocalist LCPL Jade O’Halloran and her accompanist
MUSN Sean Henderson.

With media coverage by:

Photographer Mike O’Flynn, Community Photography; and

7 Network NEWS.


Margaret Snodgrass Receiving the Procession at the Anzac Memorial
Image by 7 Network NEWS

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.

Commemorative Service for the 106th Anniversary of the Battle of Fromelles

The Commemorative Service was held in the Anzac Memorial Auditorium on the 90th anniversary of the official dedication of its two foundation stones in 1932 by Sir Phillip Game, the Governor of NSW and Bertram Stevens, then Premier of New South Wales. Over 15,000 people assembled to witness the dedication of the stones bearing the words “A soldier set this stone” and “A citizen set this stone”. This date was also the 16th anniversary of the first battle on the Western Front involving Australian troops at Fromelles.

The Flag party led the Participants to the Auditorium and formed up outside the Auditorium to await the to make a formal entry to the Auditorium and placed their flags in a flag stand and the Commemoration Service commenced.

 

Australian National Flag bearer Geoffrey Benn and French National Flag bearer Bernard Fontaine placed the Australian and French National flags in the flagstand, saluted by The Australian Army Band Vocalist LCPL Jade O’Halloran and accompanist Musician Sean Henderson.

The Auditorium seating had been arranged to facilitate the Commemorative Service while keeping physical distancing.

Fromelles Commemoration attendees [Click on images to see more detail]

The Commemoration was greatly benefited by the presence of the Australian Amy Band Sydney Vocalist LCPL Jade O’Halloran and her accompanist MUSN Sean Henderson. At very short notice they had made themselves available to lead the singing following news that NSW Police Band Vocalist Belinda Parsons had to withdraw. What is most remarkable is that both vocalists are proficient at singing the French National Anthem in French and the bi-lingual New Zealand National Anthem in addition the other hymns and National Anthems in the Order of Service. It is a testament to the goodwill between the two bands and towards the Commemoration that this was done seamlessly within a matter of hours and is greatly appreciated.

Vocalist LCPL Jade O’Halloran leads O Valiant Hearts

Master of Ceremonies, and FFFAIF Member, Darren Mitchell welcomed guests to the Anzac Memorial where the foundation stones were laid on this day 90 years ago, in a ceremony attended by 15,000 people. After the Commemoration paused in reflection while the Last Post sounded as part of Anzac Memorial’s 11 o’clock Ceremony, with a Minute’s silence followed by the Rouse.
Darren then read a Vice Regal Message from His Excellency General the Honourable David Hurley AC DSC (Retd), Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia. A copy of this message is at Annexure A and a copy of the Order of Service is at Annexure B.

 

Harry Allie BEM, Chair of the NSW Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Veterans Commemoration Service Committee and a former member of the NSW Centenary of Anzac Advisory Council led an Acknowledgement of Country on behalf of Aboriginal elders. The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island flags were also flown at the Yininmadyemi Bullet sculpture for Indigenous Diggers to demonstrate respect for the custodians of this land, both past and present and their contribution to this country and its heritage and values.

The Prologue was delivered by The Honourable Dr. Brendan Nelson AO, Chair, The Australian War Memorial Council. He noted that on the day of the Armistice on 11 November 1918, the Official Historian Charles Bean declined to celebrate but chose to return to the battlefield of Fromelles, where he could be with the men who had dreamt of the day that they would never see, but for which they had given their lives. He wrote:
“It is one of the greatest and most tragic of assaults ever conducted by the AIF.”
Dr Nelson related the experiences of Major Geoff McCrae who, before he led the 60th Bn into the battle, wrote to his family “Farewell dear people, the hour approacheth” and Pte Walter Dowling, 57Bn who described how “hundreds were mown down in the flicker of an eyelid”. Brendan also related the reaction of Brig-General “Pompey” Elliott who commanded the 15th Brigade as being “speechless with grief” after visiting the battlefield and seeing the carnage.
Dr Nelson finished with the story of the Australian volunteers bringing in the wounded for the next 3 days, including Sgt Simon Fraser, immortalised by the Peter Corlett’s statue “Cobbers”. As he was bringing in a wounded comrade, he heard a lone voice ‘Don’t forget me Cobber’. Dr Nelson reflected “He didn’t, we won’t, we never will, for we are one and we are free. Lest we Forget.”

Pastor Bob Durbin, Chaplain with RSL LifeCare led a prayer remembering the soldiers killed, wounded or taken prisoner and those changed by their experiences in the battle and their families and giving thanks that some of those soldiers who were “lost” have now been found and those did not have a final resting place and now do. The life of Madame Demassiet whose family owned the land near Pheasant Wood where the Germans buried Australian soldiers killed in the battle was remembered with her passing on 16 July and her funeral being on this day, French time. Prayers were also offered for all those who have served or are currently serving in the Defence Force and help defend the democracy and freedoms that we have in Australia today.

Pastor Bob Durbin with a Prayer of Remembrance. Madame Marie Paule Demassiet, who in 2008 generously offered to gift her land for “it belongs to the soldiers”, with her grandson after the closing ceremony for the GUARD investigations at Fromelles on 13.06.2008 (Image by Carole Laignel).

The Australian Amy Band Sydney Vocalist LCPL Jade O’Halloran then led the singing of Abide with Me.


Vocalist LCPL Jade O’Halloran leads Abide With Me

                Brothers Sam, Eric and Jim Wilson                    Family Reflection by Jim Munday

In the Family Reflection, Jim Munday shared the story of the 3 Wilson brothers from Port Macquarie who fought in the Battle of Fromelles Jim aged 19 years was wounded in the neck and Sam aged 30 and Eric aged 20 were both Killed in Action. Sam and Eric were buried by the Germans after the battle and identified through DNA matching. They were found to have been recognised as brothers by the Germans and buried side by side in the communal grave near Pheasant Wood. Jim also reflected on the Family’s journey of “closure” and the emotional impact of the identification of Sam and Eric’s remains and of 13 family members attending the 2010 dedication at the Fromelles (Pheasant Wood) Military Cemetery of their named headstones. Jim also shared that being shown over the Fromelles battlefield by Martial Delebarre led to him donating Sam and Eric’s medals for display in the Fromelles Museum and that his family had been pleased to welcome Martial and Catherine to Australia, culminating with a Last Post Ceremony at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra. Jim concluded by saying
Sam and Eric and Jim arrived at Fromelles together; they fought there together,
Sam and Eric died there together; they lie there together.
The Wilson family will always remember them.
The family has also been comforted by the commitment by the people of Fromelles and their children through the care of Sam and Eric’s graves, that the preservation of their memory in Fromelles is assured for years to come.


Eric and Sam WILSON’s medals in the Fromelles Museum and their graves being cared for by Fromelles schoolgirls and schoolboys. Images supplied by Jim Munday

Pastor Bob Durbin led a Prayer and Blessing.

The Consul-General for the Republic of France, Mrs. Anne Boillon, delivered a Message from France, expressing appreciation for Australian support since The Great War and continuing today. As democracies, Australia, New Zealand, the UK, Belgium and France have many shared values, as was the case during the Great War – typified by friendship, loyalty and what Australians call “mateship” and we French call “fraternity” – and it is important that we transmit these values to the new generations. As war has suddenly returned to Europe, both Australia and France are together supporting Ukraine against Russian aggression with the courage and determination shared and admired all those years ago. She also paid tribute to the work done at St Clare’s College, Waverly and saw the strength of the bond between Australia and France today. She concluded by saying:
“The French people everywhere do remember the sacrifice of the Australian soldiers at Fromelles, at Villers Bretonneux and on the Somme and the importance of keeping the memory alive. So lest we forget, long live French-Australian friendship.”

The Epilogue was delivered by Geoffrey Benn, President Fromelles Association of Australia.  
Firstly, he thanked all those who had been involved in organising the Commemoration for helping to ensure that the Battle of Fromelles is never forgotten. Secondly, we remembered the citizen soldiers who heard the call and took on responsibilities with consequences they did not fully understand and gave up their vocations to do what they saw as their duty, he then thanked the current professional soldiers, both full-time and part-time, for their preparedness for taking on the unforeseen risks and challenges in our technological and dynamic world.

Geoffrey then observed that the request of the 5th Division veterans in 1966 for the Trustees of the Memorial to always remember, on the anniversary of the Battle of Fromelles, the service and sacrifice of their 5th Division comrades who died during the Great War and others who had died since then, had been honoured each year by the Trustees as we do today.

Geoffrey reflected that the casualty statistics of the Great War are only one aspect of the story of the AIF with 308,000 AIF soldiers who served in an overseas theatre of war. 137,013 were wounded with 208,000 hospitalisations, a rate of hospitalisation higher than for other similar sized countries. The men of the AIF were decimated. Geoffrey indicated that it is now known that in the 10 years following the end of WW1, another 60,000 of those who returned, died. Geoffrey suggested that we can only speculate on how many suffered from long term disabilities or became alcoholics, or drug dependent, or whose families suffered. Many ended their lives only to be buried in unmarked graves.

Fromelles’ place in Australia’s history is that it was the first location on the Western Front in France where Australian soldiers fought the opposing German forces. More soldiers died in the Battle in a single 24 hour period, than any other. But these blunt figures do not tell the family details which relate to Fromelles. Geoffrey gave the example of Alexander Mclean and his 2 sons, Alexander and Victor, who all fought with the 60Bn in the battle. Alexander (senior) was initially reported missing in action but later reported safe. Both of his sons were Killed in Action. Jim Munday today has told us of the tragedy of the Wilson brothers experience, and it was a tragedy repeated in many homes across the country with at least 16 sets of brothers who fought at Fromelles. Geoffrey then honoured these brothers and their families by recalling their names.

250 of the soldiers killed in the Battle remained missing for 91 years until their mass grave dug by the Germans after the Battle was discovered at Pheasant Wood in 2007 after strong advocacy by amateur historian Lambis Englezos and his supporters including the FFFAIF. Unusually, the site next to the Wood had not been disturbed since then – it had been unproductive for farming (probably due to the lime spread on the bodies and the debris of war buried in some of the pits and the high water table), overhead powerline pylons straddled the site and a nearby NATO gas pipeline by-passed the site and no roads or railways have been built in the area.

Geoffrey revealed that within the tragedy of Fromelles there is something unique – an untouched communal war grave, that through the technological advances of DNA and archaeology, combined with the meticulous record keeping by the Germans in compliance with the Hague and Geneva Conventions, families of soldiers killed in the battle have been brought together to understand their genealogy and family history and their connection to Fromelles. Geoffrey said Fromelles was to his knowledge, the only battle that we can say today we know collectively the families who are related back 3 and 4 generations to the soldiers who served together at the Front. More than 3,000 individuals have donated DNA samples in the hope of being able to match one of the remaining 84 soldiers who were buried near Pheasant Wood but do not yet have their own named headstone, as 166 now do.

Geoffrey concluded that it means collectively we understand who these men were and the impact of the battle of Fromelles through the generations in a way not possible in other battles. So we know many of these men, almost like our ancestors did, and we honour them for what they did. Lest we Forget.

The singing of the National Anthems of France, New Zealand and the United Kingdom and Australia was led by The Australian Amy Band Sydney Vocalist LCPL Jade O’Halloran accompanied by MUSN Sean Henderson on piano.

Australian Army Band Vocalist LCPL Jade O’Halloran accompanied by MUSN Sean Henderson singing the National Anthems of France, New Zealand and The United Kingdom.

Jade then sang The Recessional to close the Service in the Auditorium as participants, maintaining physical distancing, passed beneath the Ocular as they moved through the Hall of Service and into the Hall of Memory.

Army Musician Jade O’Halloran leads The Recessional and The Hall of Memory viewed through the Ocular above the Hall of Service.

Wreath laying, Casting Commemorative Stars and the Last Post Ceremony

Gathering for wreath-laying in the Hall of Memory [Click on images to see more detail]

Descendants and the general public who were not able to be invited to physically attend due to the capacity limits applying at the Anzac Memorials during the pandemic were invited to send the names of soldier they wished to commemorate. About 400 soldiers were nominated for commemoration and their names were added to Commemorative Stars, the same shape and colour as the 120,000 stars fixed in the Dome of Star above the Hall of Memory and symbolically representing the 130,000 men and women from New South Wales who embarked for overseas service during the Great War. Soldiers commemorated included those men of the 53Bn who originally served in the 1st Bn, those soldiers known to be buried in the Fromelles (Pheasant Wood) Military Cemetery, 52 Railway and Tramways employees and 11 Jewish soldiers killed in the Battle of Fromelles as well as other soldiers nominated by descendants. Participants attending the Commemoration were invited to cast the Commemorative Stars with soldiers’ names into the Well of Contemplation at the Anzac Memorial. The Commemorative stars were then collected for cremation at Rookwood and the ashes will be taken by the Premier’s Anzac Scholars to the WW1 battlefields.

DVA Deputy Commissioner NSW/ACT, Victoria Benz, President Fromelles Association Geoffrey Benn,
Australian World War One Descendants Secretary, Arline Ronsisvalle; Deputy Consul-General of the UK, Jonathan Cook; Remembrance Driveway Council, LTCOL Ian Henderson; The Australian Army, Joint Ceremonial RSM, WO1 Darryl Holzhauser

In the Hall of Memory Dr Marjorie O’Neill MP, Member for Coogee; Tim James MP, Member for Willoughby;
Anne Boillon, Consul-General Republic of France; Howard Collins, Chief Operations Officer, Transport for NSW; Michael Caluwaerts, Belgium Consul; Marie Gittard, French Veterans Delegate General for Australia; Bernard Fontaine, representing the French Veterans Association of New South Wales; Bill Dobbie,New Zealand Consul-General; John Thomas, Forgotten Diggers, Phillip Chin, Director, RSLNSW

Laying the wreath for the 5th Division

In 1966, more than 500 veterans of the 5th Division marked the 50th Anniversary of the Battle of Fromelles with a Parade from the Archibald Fountain and joined about 300 people unable to march at the Ceremony by the Pool of Reflection at the Anzac Memorial. It was the last Parade for the veterans. (See Annexure Fromelles 50th Anniversary – A record of the Parade and Ceremony held in Hyde Park on 19 July 1966 and Extract from Reveille May 1966 and September 1966).
The Parade carried their request to the Trustees of the Anzac Memorial to always remember on 19 July 1916 their 8,100 comrades Killed in Action during the First World War and those who had died since.
The Trustees agreed to this and each year the 5th Division AIF Wreath Stand has been brought out to commemorate the anniversary of the Battle at Fromelles, usually the 19th July each year and usually in the France and Belgium niche (there have been some variations as the Commemoration has grown and when COVID restrictions were in place).

In acknowledgement of the commitment made in 1966 the Trustees of the Anzac Memorial to honour the men of the Fifth Division AIF and the Battle of Fromelles, a wreath was laid by two representatives of the Trustees:
Mr Tim James MP, Member for Willoughby representing
The Hon. Dominic Perrottet MP, Premier of New South Wales and his Proxy as Chair of The Anzac Memorial Trustees, the Minister for Veterans, The Hon David Elliott MP; and
Dr Marjorie O’Neill MP, The Member for Coogee, representing The NSW Opposition Leader, Mr Chris Minns MP and his Proxy as Trustee, the Shadow Minister for Veterans, Mr Greg Warren MP.



The wreath in tribute to the 5th Division AIF.
Lower images by 7 Network NEWS

Piper Jim Braid, NSW Scottish Regimental Association Pipes and Drums, supported by Bugler, Terry McCleary took up his position to play a Lament during the wreath-laying. Jim Braid is a relative of Sgt James Dodd 53Bn and Pte Downie Dodd 55Bn KIA Fromelles.

 

Commemorative Wreath laying in Hall of Memory

Master of Ceremonies Darren Mitchell then called forward the following dignitaries to lay their wreaths together (shown left to right below):

Mr Tim James MP, Member for Willoughby representing
The Hon. Dominic Perrottet MP, Premier of New South Wales and Chair, The Anzac Memorial Trustees and
the Minister for Veterans, The Hon David Elliott MP laying a wreath on behalf of the NSW Premier and Government of NSW; with
Mr Phillip Chin Board Director, for Mr Ray James, President, The Returned and Services League of Australia NSW Branch, laying a wreath for those who served.


Images by Community Photography, Paul Simadas and 7 Network NEWS

Consul-General Republic of France Mrs. Anne Boillon, laying a wreath on behalf of the Citizens of France.
Belgium Consul Michael Caluwaerts representing the Ambassador of Belgium, His Excellency Mr Michel Goffin, laying a wreath on behalf of the Citizens of Belgium.
Deputy Consul-General of United Kingdom Mr. Jonathan Cook Consul-General of United Kingdom laying a wreath on behalf of the Citizens of United Kingdom.
Consul-General of New Zealand Mr. Bill Dobbie laying a wreath on behalf of the Citizens of New Zealand.

WO1 Darryl Holzhauser, Regimental Sergeant Major, Joint Ceremonial NSW of the Australian Army, laying a wreath on behalf of The Australian Defence Forces for those who have served and currently serve.
Ms Victoria Benz, Deputy Commissioner NSW & ACT, representing the Department of Veterans’ Affairs laying a wreath for War Veterans.

Lt. Col, Ian Henderson (Rtd), representing the President, Remembrance Driveway Committee


Images by Community Photography and 7 Network NEWS

2022 07 19 Fromelles-108 Hall of Memory Geoffrey Benn, Arline Ronsisvalle, Howard Collins, Jim Munro, Brendan Nelson.jpg
2022 07 19 Fromelles-114 Hall of Memory Geoffrey Benn, Arline Ronsisvalle, Howard Collins, Jim Munro, Brendan Nelson.jpg
7 Network NEWS

Geoffrey Benn, President, Fromelles Association of Australia with
Arline Ronsisvalle, representing Australian World War One Descendants (AWWOD) laying a wreath on behalf of World War One descendants;
Howard Collins OBE, Chief Operations Officer, Transport for NSW laying a wreath for the 52 NSW railway and tramway men who died at Fromelles and those who survived.
Jim Munro, President Families and Friends of the First AIF with
The Hon Dr Brendan Nelson AO, Chair, Australian War Memorial Council and Honorary Member, Families and Friends of the First AIF laying a wreath for the Fallen at Fromelles


Images by Community Photography and 7 Network NEWS

Annette Tebb, descendant of Ernest Jentsch, 53Bn, KIA Fromelles and honouring Madame Demassiet and in tribute to those soldiers now lying in Pheasant Wood Cemetery

Commemorative Stars

Crowning the Hall of Memory is a domed ceiling covered with approximately 120,000 tiny golden stars, a symbolic representation of the 130,000 men and women from New South Wales who embarked for overseas service during the Great War.

Each participant in the Commemoration was given a commemorative star bearing the name of a New South Wales soldier killed during or died of wounds following the Battle of Fromelles. They were invited to cast it into the Well of Contemplation following a moment of reflection.
Stars released into the Well are collected and later cremated at Rookwood Cemetery. The ashes are carried on annual pilgrimages by the Premier’s Anzac Memorial Scholars to the key battlefield sites of the Western Front, Gallipoli, the Middle East and Asia.

Commemorative Stars Arlene Ronsisvalle, Jonathon Cook, Jim Munro, Dr Majorie O’Neill, Tim James MP, Howard Collins, Anne Boillon, Michael Caluwaerts, Phillip Chin, Bill Dobbie, John Thomas, Roger Selby, Bernard Fontaine, Alexander Weilsman, Annette Tebb, Bill Phippen, Terry-Anne O’Neill, Julie Searant, Karen Dawson, Bob Durbin
[Click on images to see more detail]


Commemorative Stars: John Hitchen, Jim Braid, Jim Munday, Trevor Edwards, unidentifieds, Barbara McGregor, Brendan Nelson, Nick Doig

Image by 7 Network NEWS
2022 07 19 Fromelles-122a Stars & Sacrifice Benn to Durbin 7NEWS.jpg


The sculpture Sacrifice in the Hall of Silence and the Commemorative Stars
Images by Jim Munro and 7 Network NEWS

 

In Silent Contemplation: Tim James MP, Howard Collins, Anne Boillon, Michael Caluwaerts, Phillip Chin, Bill Dobbie, John Thomas, Roger Selby, Bernard Fontaine, Annette Tebb, Bill Phippen, Terry-Anne O’Neill, Julie Searant, Karen Dawson, Bob Durbin, Michael Flynn, John Hitchen, Jim Munday
[Click on images to see more detail]

The Last Post Ceremony

Image by 7 Network NEWS

The Ode was recited by Lt. Col. Paul Simadas RFD before the Last Post was sounded by Terry McCleary of the Fire and Rescue NSW Band followed by 1 minute of silence and The Rouse. Terry’s wife Leonie is a relative of Captain Archibald Gunter MC, 54th Bn, Wounded at Fromelles.

The Last Post sounded by Bugler Terry McCleary of the Fire and Rescue NSW Band supported by Piper Jim Braid.jpeg

     

Vocalist LCPL Jade O’Halloran leads the Australian National Anthem, also Master of Ceremonies Darren Mitchell and the Anzac Memorial Eternal Flame

Australian Army Band Vocalist LCPL Jade O’Halloran led the singing of the Australian National Anthem to conclude the Commemorative Service.


Images by 7 Network NEWS [Click on image to see more detail]

   
Images by 7 Network NEWS [Click on image to see more detail]

Post Commemoration

Following the Commemoration, the wreaths were relocated from the Anzac Memorial to the RSL Life Care ANZAC Village at Narrabeen for distribution throughout the Village for the benefit of residents and staff. Some went to Peter Cosgrove House and were made into small floral arrangements to be enjoyed by the residents.


ANZAC Chapel at ANZAC Village at Narrabeen
Images by Jim Munro [Click on images to see more detail]

In Appreciation

Special thanks go to the Trustees of the Anzac Memorial, their staff, and volunteers for facilitating and assisting in the Commemorative Service. The assistance of the NSW Police Band and the Australian Army Band Sydney have been more instrumental than usual and has significantly contributed important components to the Commemorations that would have otherwise been diminished by the pandemic restrictions. The NSW Police Band provided Drummer Dave Armstrong to accompany the Commemorative Procession and Vocalist Belinda Parsons was to lead the singing, as she did in 2020, however on the afternoon before the Commemoration she had to withdraw. Finding at short notice, an available replacement vocalist with accompanist, who can sing the French National Anthem in French and the bi-lingual version of the New Zealand National Anthem as well as the other National Anthems and hymns is a big ask. However, such is the goodwill between the NSW Police Band and the Australian Army Band Sydney and towards the Commemoration, that the Australian Army Band Sydney stepped up with Vocalist LCPL Jade O’Halloran, who had sung at the 2018 Commemoration of the Battles of 3rd Ypres, and piano accompanist MUSN Sean Henderson. Jade and Sean seamlessly arrived at the Anzac Memorial on the next morning, set up their equipment and Jade led the singing in a polished performance. FFFAIF is most grateful and the feedback from participants has been very complimentary of the Commemoration. FFFAIF also wished Belinda Parsons a speedy return to her work.

Similarly, the presence of the Pastor Bob Durbin, Piper Jim Braid and Bugler Terry McCleary contributed significantly to the formality and dignity of the commemoration. Thanks also to Geoffrey Benn for stepping up as the Australian Flag Ensign, who along with the French War Veterans’ representative Bernard Fontaine, and NSW Police Band drummer Dave Armstrong lead the Commemorative Procession under the guidance of Procession Marshall Paul Simadas.

Special Guests, The Honourable Dr Brendan Nelson AO with Mrs Anne Boillon, Consul-General of France and the other Diplomatic representatives, Harry Allie BEM, Mr Tim James MP and Dr Marjorie O’Neill MP representing Trustees, and Mr Phillip Chin, Director RSLNSW and Jim Munday all enriched the Commemoration.

Procession Marshall Paul Simadas, Master of Ceremonies Darren Mitchell and FFFAIF Committee Member Jill Hayes and Fromelles Association President, Geoffrey Benn helped the Commemoration run smoothly. Mick Flynn for Community Photography has created a good photographic record and the 7 Network News team has created a comprehensive video record. Along with photographs and video recorded by several FFFAIF members, this has enabled this report and associated web-postings to the FFFAIF website at www.fffaif.org.au and Facebook page to provide communications to those unable to attend as well as an archival record.. Thanks also to the 7 Network News team whose 6pm Bulletin report enabled the Commemoration to be shared with a larger number of people.

Special thanks also to the Organising Committee of FFFAIF Members Margaret Snodgrass OAM, Darren Mitchell, Jill Hayes, Paul Simadas, Chris Bryett and Geoffrey Benn, Anzac Memorial Operations Manager Belinda Mitrovich and Visitor Services Coordinator Jim Grey and Event Service Officer Milan Nettleton, and Warrant Officer Class One Darryl Holzhauser, Regimental Sergeant Major, Joint Ceremonial NSW of the Australian Army with support from Nick Young in the NSW Office of Veterans.

A special thanks to the florists who prepared the wreaths as floral tributes, with special appreciation to Bloomey’s Floral Designs for the 4 wreaths that they supplied. Thanks also to Pastor Bob Durbin who arranged for the wreaths to be relocated from the Anzac Memorial following the Commemoration to the RSL Life Care ANZAC Village at Narrabeen to be distributed throughout the Village for the benefit of residents and staff.

Due to the pandemic and its impact, we missed the company of many of our regular participants including:
Past President Russell Curley and FFFAIF Committee Member Margaret Snodgrass OAM (who managed a cameo appearance to receive the Commemorative Procession at the Anzac Memorial);
Professor The Honourable Dame Marie Bashir, AD CVO, former Governor of New South Wales and Honorary Member FFFAIF who has participated each year since 2010 (except in 2014 when she was overseas and 2021 due to the COVID restrictions);
FFFAIF Committee Member Chris Bryett who has been heavily involved in the search for the “missing” of Fromelles,
The NSW Police Band and the Australian Defence Force Flag Orderlies; and
Some representatives of ex-service and descendants’ organisation as well as descendants of the soldiers of the First AIF.
We know that some held personal commemorations and we hope that they will be able to participate in future commemoration to honour the service and sacrifice of the soldiers of the First AIF and their families.

A copy of this report and some of the photographs have been posted to the FFFAIF website at www.fffaif.org.au and Facebook page which are still available for viewing.

Lest We Forget

Jim Munro,
President of FFFAIF
July 2022

 

Annexure A: Vice Regal Message from
His Excellency General the Honourable David Hurley AC DSC (Retd),
Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia

Annexure B: Order of Service

Annexure C: A record of the Parade and Ceremony held in Hyde Park on 19 July 1966

 

 

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DIGGER 79

CONTENTS


Articles

Australian Reponses to the Outbreak of War, 1914, Sophie Briggs, 2021 JLMHP recipient  3-6

1917 letter: Lieut Col Richard Fitz-Gerald DSO, 24th Bn, found on Trove  6

Memoirs of Pte 1172 Clifford Sharman, 26th Bn, Part 2 (final), Owen Cook  7-17

The 4th Division’s first trench raid on the Western Front, Pte 5362A Alan Davies, 14th Bn  18-19

A Parish Remembers – St Alban’s Epping honours WWI Servicemen, Julie Evans  20-23

Maclean’s Memorial to the Dead, Greg Towner  24-28

1917 letter: Pte 2823 Percy Ferguson, 13th Bn, found on Trove  28

Gnr 28302 George Yeend, 2nd FAB, and AB Norman Yeend, RAN, contrib. by Ron Horton  29-31

Report on the 2022 John Laffin Memorial Lecture, Jim Munro  31

Seers father and son (2758 Lambert, 30th Bn & 2831 George, 4th Bn), Stephen Brooks  32-33

1917 letter: Pte 2145 Ivo Smith, 8th LTMB, found on Trove  33

Diaries of L/Cpl William Lycett, 4th Fld Amb, Vol II (1916), Part 6, contrib. by Tim Lycett  34-37

Who was Pte 582 Vognsen buried in Beach Cemetery, Gallipoli? Dean Sherringham  38-39

Foreign-born volunteers in the AIF by country of birth, Dean Sherringham  40

Red Dust (memoirs of a light horseman), Chapter 10, Tpr 3073 John Gray, 6th LHR  41-52

Prisoner of war experience: Lieut John Edwards MM, 50th Bn, found on Trove  53-54

Tribute to Dvr 1959 Frankie Willis by Sgt 3530 Frank Wormald, 14th FAB, Jenny Burchell  55-60

1917 letter: Sgt 3112 Vincent Grinlington, 48th Bn, found on Trove  60

Pte 1621/4508/6939 Lewis Tingay, 7th, 23rd & 22nd Bns, Trevor Munro and Graeme Hosken  61-63

Sgt 2795 John Edward Salter, 7th Bn, Jillann Kerr, Graeme Hosken and Peter Benson  64-67

1915 letter: Pte 944 John Salter, 11th Bn, found on Trove  68-70

Pte 1577 Alfred E Fletcher (Francis E Flitcroft), 1st Bn, Sean McManus and Graeme Hosken  71-74

1917 letter: Sgt Mjr 11360 James Sheppard, AASC, found on Trove  74

 

Regular features

Trench Talk and Contact/Membership details  2

AIF anecdote: ‘Memories of Digger days’, ‘The World’s News’  37

Etched in Stone, Russell Curley and Jim Corkery  75

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Anzac Nurses of the Great War

Launch of The Australian Nurses of the Great War Database

The Australian Nurses of the Great War Database was launched at the Anzac Memorial, Hyde Park with a number of presentations and the presence of many of the researchers and developers of the database, to highlight not only aspects and the lives and service of the Nurses, but to also demonstrate the power and flexibility of the Database as a tool for enquiry and research.

The Australian Branch of the Western Front Association in conjunction with FFFAIF presented a  Seminar, incorporating the 2022 John Laffin Memorial Lecture on Saturday, 30 April, 2022, focussing on Australian nurses of the Great War. In conjunction with this event, Anzac Nurses of the Great War has been added as a new menu on the www.fffaif.org.au website to provide links to many of the most significant websites related to Australian and New Zealand Nurses who served in the Great War.

John Laffin’s mother, Nellie Alfreda Laffin (nee Pike), served as a nurse in the Australian Army Nursing Service in the Great War and her story was be told by her granddaughter Sue Tongue and grandson Craig Laffin using archival material and family items. This was presented as the 2022 John Laffin Memorial Lecture as: “Our Nurse Nellie in the war.”, which was also streamed live on-line via Zoom. This case study helped showcase the role of nurses from Australia in the war, from the viewpoint of the life of one brave woman who served.

Studio portrait of Matron Gray and four sisters of the AANS at No1 Australian Auxiliary Hospital, Harefield on 9 April 1915. Source: Australian War Memorial

Other researchers shared their findings. A special afternoon tea was hosted for those attending with raffle prizes drawn during the day to raise. Craig Laffin donated a number of books written by John Laffin for the benefit of those attending..


Matron Gray with Sisters at No 1 Australian General Hospital, Sutton Veny 1919
Source: Australian War Memorial

Seminar programme:

Title: ‘Australian military nurses in the Great War.”

9:30 am: Arrival and registration.

10:00 am: Welcome.

10:15 am: The Australian Nurses of the Great War database by David Perkins.

11:15 am: Tribute to John Laffin, by FFFAIF President Jim Munro, followed by the
2022 John Laffin Memorial Lecture by Sue Tongue and Craig Laffin:
“Our Nurse Nellie in the war.”

12:30 pm: Lunch and time to explore the Memorial.

1:45 pm: Research presentations by invited attendees.

Krista Van-Tempest: Nurse Edith Blake QAIMNSR

Dr Nicole Bray and Janette Pelosi: 1AAH Harefield and More medals than most

Sarah and Ruth Miller: Nurse Caroline Ellen Wilson

James Oglethorpe: Sister May Oglethorpe AANS

Chris Bryett: Matron Kellett CBE, RRC, MID

3:00 pm: Discussion with afternoon tea (self-catered from kitchen).

Clare Ashton: 1934 nurses reunion

4:00 pm: Close of business.

 

The new Anzac Nurses of the Great War web page


The 1st Australian General Hospital (1AGH) Sutton Veny, May 1919
Approximately 300 nurses and military personnel. Seated in the middle of the front row is Matron Ethel Gray, Australian Army Nursing Service, and to her left is Commanding Officer 1AGH Colonel Huxtable (with walking stick and legs crossed).

More than 2,300 Australian military nurses served overseas during the Great War.

This Anzac Nurses of the Great War web page brings together information from multiple data sources and from multiple researchers to provide a searchable resource that honours both individual stories and enables users to make their own enquiries and compile their own analysis across collective groups.

 

Sutton Veny Matron, Sister Miles-Walker (d. Oct 1918) and AANS Sisters at AGH1 October 1919

Anzac Nurses Nominal Rolls of the Great War.

A number of nominal rolls listing the service of Anzac nurses from Australia and New Zealand in the Great War have been published and been made available on-line for research. These have been prepared by academic and family history researchers to document the military and other nurses who served in the First World War. Each roll contains different information but together they provide detailed information on this diverse range of women.

Links to some of these are posted here and each researcher has consented to their publication. All are in the public domain and are grouped here to assist other researchers.

This Anzac Nurses of the Great War web page has been placed in the  public domain as a free resource to enable families, students and researchers to be able to access this information and thereby honour the training, dedication and service of these special women.

To honour their service and sacrifice of Australian Nurses of the Great War, David Perkins has developed a new ‘searchable’ database that provides access to the service and biographical details of about 2,500 Australian military nurses who served in the Australian Army Nursing Service (AANS) and other Empire military nursing organisations.

The Australian Nurses of the Great War Database is available online on this page of the Families and Friends of the First AIF webpage. Each of David’s records contains links to relevant Australian War Memorial, National Archives of Australia, and Department of Veterans Affairs ‘Discovering Anzacs’ group stories. David is prepared to add new names to his database and will consider requests from other researchers to do so.

Click here to access The Australian Nurses of the Great War Database

——————

Additional Anzac Nurses Nominal Rolls and Women’s service in the Great War.

Other nominal rolls are accessible here. They include not only Australian and New Zealand nurses who served with their respective military nursing services but women who served with the Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Nursing Service Reserve and as Red Cross Voluntary Aid Detachments or VADs.

The ‘Discovering Anzacs’ series of group stories contain several lists of nurses. These have been prepared by Heather Ford who has undertaken exhaustive research in the area. She has grouped the names into cohorts and submitted them to the Australian Department of Veterans Affairs as a number of ‘group stories’. Some are here:

First Convoy Nurses – 1914 | Discovering Anzacs | National Archives of Australia and Archives NZ (https://discoveringanzacs.naa.gov.au/browse/groupstories/7672)

AUSTRALIAN WOMEN WHO SERVED AND DIED DURING OR AS A RESULT OF THE GREAT WAR: | Discovering Anzacs | National Archives of Australia and Archives NZ ()
https://discoveringanzacs.naa.gov.au/browse/groupstories/19005

QAIMNSR Nurses who embarked on the HS Karoola in December 1915 | Discovering Anzacs | National Archives of Australia and Archives NZ (
https://discoveringanzacs.naa.gov.au/browse/groupstories/17503)

WOMEN’S ARMY AUXILIARY CORPS – QUEEN MARY’S ARMY AUXILIARY CORPS | Discovering Anzacs | National Archives of Australia and Archives NZ (
https://discoveringanzacs.naa.gov.au/browse/groupstories/13331)

Dr Kirsty Harris has produced the following nominal roll and is one of Australia’s leading authors and researchers relating to Australian Nurses at War:

World War One Nurses – Australian Nurses at War (https://kjhh.net.au/australiannursesatwar/world-war-one-australian-nurses/)

In New Zealand, Sherayl McNabb has documented the names of Nurses in the New Zealand Army Nursing Service and other New Zealanders who served in the Great War (she has also created nominal rolls for nurses who served in other conflicts in which New Zealand nurses served):

WW1 Samoa Nurses 1914 (https://www.nzans.org/Nurses%20Who%20Served/SamoaNurses1914.html)

1st 50 Roll
(
https://www.nzans.org/Nurses%20Who%20Served/1st%2050%20Roll.html)

NZ Nurses to Aust Roll (https://www.nzans.org/Nurses%20Who%20Served/NZNursesAANS.html)

NZANS WW1 Main page (https://www.nzans.org/Nurses%20Who%20Served/Full%20NZANS%20WW1%20Roll.html)

Jenny Baker has recorded a wide range of other Australian women’s service in the Great War (with many interesting photographs):

Looking for the Evidence – WW1 Women (https://sites.google.com/site/lookingfortheevidenceww1women/australian-women-at-ww1-research-home)

Faithe Jones (a genealogist) has compiled profiles and photographs of many Australian Nurses in World War 1:

http://ausww1nurses.weebly.com/

Australian nurses at Harefield Australian Auxiliary Hospital 1915

Mention should also be made of The History of the Australian Nurses in the First World War by Dr Ruth Rae, published as an Australian College of Nursing Centenary Commemorative Trilogy. The Trilogy details the important contribution of Australian nurses who served in the First World War (1914-18) and highlights the valuable service Australian nurses provided, to not only the servicemen, but to the ongoing professionalism of civilian and military nursing in this country. The Trilogy features:
Book one – From Narromine to the Nile (2nd edition)
Book two – Scarlet Poppies (3rd edition)
Book three – Veiled Lives (3rd edition) ACN First World War Nursing Nominal Roll. Some details relating to the nominal role can be found here:

Sneak peek: A Nominal Roll of Australian Nurses who served in the First World War (pp. 10-17) – Australian College of Nursing (https://www.acn.edu.au/sneak-peek-nominal-roll)
ACN Centenary Commemorative Trilogy – Australian College of Nursing

—————

The Anzac Nurses of the Great War web page has been facilitated by
Paul Simadas, RFD Lieutenant Colonel
Chairman Australian Branch Western Front Association
Vice President, Families and Friends of the First AIF
One of Paul’s FFFAIF responsibilities is liaison with kindred organisations with an interest in commemorating the service and sacrifice of Australian service men and women and their families during and after The Great War. Paul has liaised with most of the researchers listed above, and each researcher has consented to the publication of links to their work.

—————

Anzac Memorial Sydney Screening: Angels of the Battlefield

Angels of the Battlefield, made by students from TAFE New South Wales over a six-year period, pays homage to the over 3,000 civilian nurses who also served in the First World War. Often working near the front-line, 25 nurses were killed and 388 were decorated, with eight receiving the Military Medal.

Through the stories of Sisters Nellie Morrice and Katherine Porter, discover what life was like a century ago and the hardships and dangers nurses endured on active service. The film follows Nellie and Kitty from the small country towns of their birth through their nursing training in Sydney, their service in Egypt, Turkey and France to the tragedies and triumphs that followed their discharge from the military.

Angels of the Battlefield will be screened on the following dates and does not require a booking:

  • Tuesday, 26 April (3.30-4.30pm)
  • Friday, 29 April (3.30-4.30pm)
  • Monday, 2 May (3.30-4.30pm)
  • Wednesday, 4 May (3.30-4.30pm)

More information at Screening: Angels of the Battlefield | Anzac Memorial, Hyde Park, Sydney (nsw.gov.au)

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VALE Lt Col (Rtd) Graham Parker, OBE

VALE Lt Col (Rtd) Graham Parker, OBE

Lt Col (Retd) Graham William Parker, OBE (1933-2022)

It is with great sadness that we learn of the passing of Graham Parker, at Wilton, near Salisbury in Wiltshire on Tuesday 8 March 2022, aged 89 years. Graham is survived by his beloved wife Rona, daughter Joanna, son Julian and their families.

Graham has made a most remarkable contribution to keeping alive the memory of those who served in The Great War. Over 20 members of Graham’s immediate and extended family served during the Great War of 1914-1918. Graham’s uncle, Corporal Thomas Parker, 2nd Battalion Royal Welsh Fusiliers. was killed in action during the last week of the Battle of the Somme in November 1916. Eleven young men in Rona’s Hackett family served in the British Army, four of whom are buried in France.

Graham served continuously with the British Army and Civil Service for 45 years. In 1978 Graham’s keen interest in the Great War developed whilst serving as a Lieutenant Colonel on the Staff at NATO Headquarters, Mons, Belgium.

Following on from his research into his uncle killed on the 1916 Somme battlefield, Graham was asked to organise and guide tours for the military history society at the NATO base. Initially his tours were organised for Service personnel and their families serving in Belgium and Germany. The demand for places on his tours grew by word of mouth and most weekends he was committed to taking a group to visit the Western Front. Since that time he guided several hundred tours to the 1914-1918 battlefields of Flanders and France for the general public, school groups, Veterans’ Associations, the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, the National Defence College, Territorial Army units and the regular British Army. He was appointed OBE in 1979.

Graham has been a long-standing member of The Western Front Association (founded 1980)  and served on the National Committee for five years. From April 2008 to December 2020 Graham was a Vice-President.  Graham, often with Joanna (Honours degree in German), presented lectures to WFA branches on aspects of The Great War.

In July 1992 Graham arranged the purchase and presentation of six new bugles from the Royal Corps of Transport to the Last Post Committee to commemorate the 65th anniversary of the Menin Gate. He has also been an honorary member of The Friends of Talbot House (TOC H), with whom he has been closely associated for many years, assisting as a volunteer with the renovation of the house and garden in the mid 1980s.

Graham and his family spent 17 years in Belgium and between 1988-2000 Graham and his family ran Flanders Tours in their free time at weekends. This earned them a reputation for thorough research and innovative Battlefield Walks on the Western Front and Graham was an honorary badged member of The International Guild of Battlefield Guides.

Graham also advised on the Ypres Special Events Committee in the late 1980s and early 1990s. In 1991 he introduced The Poppy Parade and the dropping of poppy petals from the roof of the Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing at the annual Armistice Day commemorative service. Since then, the Poppy Parade has been an integral feature of the Armistice Day ceremonies in Ieper.

Lt Col Graham Parker near the Cloth Hall and the Last Post Buglers at Ieper (2009/2008)

On 11 November 1995 Graham was leading the Armistice Day “Poppy Parade” commemorating the 80th anniversary of the battles of 1915 in the Ypres Salient. He was in advance of the main parade of bands, standard bearers and soldiers from St. George’s Memorial Church through the streets of Ieper to the morning ceremony at The Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing, when there was a sudden heavy rainstorm. On reaching the market square and the Cloth Hall Graham could see crowds of visitors and local people lining the road to the Menin Gate and the downpour resulted in umbrellas of all colours suddenly appearing along the route. The images of poppies on the old Flanders battlefield and the umbrellas lining the route on that wet Armistice Day in November 1995 were Graham’s inspiration for The Poppy Umbrella.

Having completed 32 years’ Regular Army Service Graham remained on the British Army Staff in Belgium for a further 12 years and on his retirement in 1995 Graham founded Rembrella Ltd. to develop The Poppy Umbrella. Graham’s daughter, Joanna, created the design of the single red poppy and in May 1998 the Poppy Umbrella was launched at the Chelsea Flower Show with all proceeds being passed to the Royal Hospital Chelsea. Since 2008, Rembrella has donated proceeds from on-line sales to the Help for Heroes charity caring for injured Servicemen and women and from 2013 to The Not Forgotten Association.

The Poppy Umbrella sales have helped generate funds for a number of ex-Service charities, military heritage organizations and centres of Remembrance for their work in the welfare, care and continuing Remembrance of serving and former Servicemen and women including The Royal Hospital Chelsea , The Royal British Legion, The National Memorial Arboretum, Staffordshire, In Flanders Fields Museum, Ypres, Thiepval Visitor Centre, Somme and the Families & Friends of the First Australian Imperial Force.

 

Lt Col Parker and his daughter Joanna at St Edith’s Baverstock at the grave of Pte Andrew Gibson and with then FFFAIF Secretary Chris Munro at Baverstock Anzac Day 2007

On ANZAC Day 2006, Graham and his wife Rona attended the inaugural ANZAC Service at St Editha’s Baverstock, Wiltshire, UK, where 29 Australian soldiers of the Great War are buried. Some years previously, a promotional photo of Col Parker and his daughter was taken at the grave of Private Andrew Gibson at St Edith’s Baverstock. The ANZAC Day services were initiated in 2006 by FFFAIF Members Jim and Chris Munro as Jim’s Great-Uncle, QMS Alan Andrews is one of those buried at St Edith’s. As a result of the close links between the Western Front Association (Graham as an Honorary Vice President) and the Families and Friends of the First Australian Imperial Force (FFFAIF Founder John Laffin was a key person in both associations) as well as the friendship and Baverstock connection, Graham offered for FFFAIF to be their Australian agent and the first consignment arrived in 2009.

Graham his wife Rona paying their respects visiting Australian and British war graves at St Edith’s Baverstock and laying a tribute at the grave of QMS Alan Andrews in April 2021.

More than 4,000 Rembrella products have been sold in Australia by the Australian War Memorial in Canberra, the National ANZAC Centre in Albany, the Anzac Memorial Sydney, the Queensland ANZAC Day Commemorative Committee and The Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne and by FFFAIF with sales benefiting these organisations and also contributing funding to Commemorations in Sydney for Fromelles Day and the Battles of 3rd Ypres as well towards the costs of headstones on unmarked graves of returned Diggers.

Remembrance Day Service at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra in 2010 and Headstones on previously unmarked graves of returned Diggers in Cornelian Bay Cemetery, Hobart [Tasmanian Headstone Project] 2017

Graham, with Rona and his family, has contributed to thousands of people with an interest in the Great War having the opportunity to better understand its significance and impact upon their families and their own lives. His legacy lives on with the http://www.greatwar.co.uk/ website run by Joanna and her husband David containing a vast amount of information on The Great War while also being a tribute to the extended Parker-Degg, Hackett-Hodson and Pipe-Legg families.

The Families and Friends of the First AIF honours the most remarkable contribution Graham has made to keeping alive the memory of those who served in The Great War and extends its condolences to Rona, Joanna, Julian and family at this sad time.

May he Rest in Peace
As we Keep The Memory Alive

Jim Munro
President

11 March 2022

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DIGGER 78

CONTENTS

Articles

Memoirs of Pte 1172 Clifford Sharman, 26th Bn, Part 1, Owen Cook  3-14

Analysis of the 4th Machine Gun Battalion at Hamel, 4 July 1918, Greg O’Reilly  15-19

‘Sorry, you two Australian Mums’: the death of Gnr 3513 Stanley Pearson, 1st FAB HQ, at Cape Helles, Michael Crane and Bernard de Broglio  20-26

1916 letter: Tpr 1314 John Briscoe, 2nd LHR, found on Trove  26

Pte 5415 Matthew McGann, 23rd Bn, Graeme Hosken  27-31

1918 letter: Sgt 1710 John McRae, 48th Bn, found on Trove  31

Red Dust (memoirs of a light horseman), Chapter 9, Tpr 3073 John Gray, 6th LHR  32-35

1918 letter: Pte 2828 John Hudson, 42nd Bn, found on Trove  35

Pte 1235 Job Sheldon, 34th Bn, Bill Durrant  36

Bandsman 2161 Ted McMahon stops the war, Neville Browning  37

Colour centrespread 1: Cemeteries and memorials on the Western Front, Heather Ford  38

Colour centrespread 2: War memorials in Wagga Wagga, contrib. by Greg Davis  39

The Wagga Wagga Memorial Arch, contrib. by Greg Davis  40

WWI Diggers buried in Cairns Pioneer Cemetery, Greg Knight  41-48

Ross Bastiaan’s Mouquet Farm plaque, John Skene and Graeme Hosken  48

Sgt 525 Cyril Kirby MM, 31st Bn, Mick James, Peter Nelson and Ann Kirby  49

Gallipoli diary of Pte 106 Harry Cicognani, Part 3 (final), contrib. by Robyn Smith  50-56

Spr 2426 Frederick Leslie Sainty, 14th FCE, Graeme Hosken & Trevor Edwards  57-66

Diaries of L/Cpl William Lycett, 4th Fld Amb, Vol II (1916), Part 5, contrib. by Tim Lycett  59-60

Pte 2017 Alfred Wright, 25th Bn, contrib. by Jillann Kerr  71-73

1918 letter: Pte 2312 Thomas Brown, 4th MG Sqn, found on Trove  74

Regular features

Trench Talk and Contact/Membership details  2

AIF anecdotes from Memories of Digger days, ‘The World’s News’ & Cartoon from ‘Smith’s Weekly’  37, 56, 66, 70

Etched in Stone, Russell Curley and Jim Corkery  75

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DIGGER 77

CONTENTS

Articles

Tour of a 35th Bn Company in the front line at Ypres, 1917, ‘Detonator’, AWM collection  3-6

Postscript: 35th Bn men killed 29 Sept to 4 Oct, 1917, Stephen Brooks  6-7

3rd Division AIF rest schedule, Mjr Gen John Monash, contrib. by Bill Durrant  7

Diaries of L/Cpl William Lycett, 4th Fld Amb, Vol II (1916), Part 4, contrib. by Tim Lycett  8-11

L/Sgt 4028 Archie Long MM, 1st Pnrs/4th Bn, Trevor Munro  12-14

Pte 4029 Edward Long, 4th Bn & 1st Pnrs, Trevor Munro  15-16

1918 letter: Pte 5468 Herbert Banks, 14th Bn, found on Trove  16

Account of a raid by men of the 34th Bn, May 1917, Lieut Ernest Shannon, Unit war diary  17

A lucky escape at Treux for Pte 469 Charles Oakhill MM, 3rd MG Bn, 3rd MG Bn Unit war diary for May 1918  18-19

Cpl 2413 Cornelius Mahony, 17th Bn, Phillip Mahony & Graeme Hosken  20-22

Roll call of Mahony relatives in the Great War, contrib. by Bernadette Mahony  22

1915 letter: L/Cpl 72 Eugene Mahony, 2nd Bn, contrib. by Bernadette Mahony  23

Gallipoli diary of Pte 106 Harry Cicognani, 1st Fld Amb, Part 2, CH Cicognani  24-31

13th Fld Amb stretcher-bearers captured at Mouquet Farm, POW statements, NAA  32-37

Red Dust (memoirs of a light horseman), Chapter 8, Tpr 3073 John Gray, 6th LHR  38-42

1918 letter: Sgt 5826 Robert Danaher, 17th Coy AASC, found on Trove  42

Fromelles, 19 & 20 July 1916: The ‘battle’ classified as an ‘attack’, Geoffrey Benn  43-55

1918 letter: T/Sgt 3685 Leslie Best, Corps Sig Coy, found on Trove  55

Pte 1874/1764 Charles Boylan, 1st Bn & post-war soldier-settler, Graeme Hosken  56-58

1916 letters: Pte 82 James Sheehan, 30th Bn & Dvr 97 John Johnstone, 8th LHR, from Trove  58

1918 letter: Pte 6408 Duncan Spence, 23rd Bn, found on Trove   68

‘Egyptian hospitals’: The care of our gallant wounded, HT Ferrar, 1915  59-60

Pte 1076 Joseph Burns, 19th Bn, Graeme Hosken, Sean McManus & Peter Benson  61-68

Humour amid Anzacs, ‘Irwin Index’ 1953, found on Trove  69-71

Lieut Ralph Doughty MC, 3rd FAB, at Pozieres, diary extracts contrib. by Peter Kivell 71

1918 Christmas dinner in Belgium, Pte 959 Thomas Dwyer MM, 24th Bn, found on Trove 72

Report on the 2021 John Laffin Memorial Lecture by Meleah Hampton, Paul Simadas 73

1918 letter: Pte 2312 Thomas Brown, 4th MG Sqn, found on Trove 74

Regular features

Trench Talk and Contact/Membership details  2

AIF anecdotes: ‘Memories of Digger days’, ‘The World’s News’19, 31

Etched in Stone, Russell Curley and Jim Corkery  75

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FFFAIF 2021 John Laffin Memorial Lecture, 25 September 2021

The John Laffin Memorial Lecture has been held annually since 2003. The Lectures honour the memory of the Founder of FFFAIF, Australian John Laffin who was one of the world’s most distinguished military historians. Both of John’s parents served with the Australian Imperial Force during WW1. His father was an infantry officer, and his mother a nursing sister. John grew up in a house where much of the adult conversations concerned memories of the war and from an early age the deeds of the Diggers were instilled in him. John became a journalist but enlisted in the second AIF in WW2 and was a veteran of the New Guinea campaign.

Post-War, John became a teacher of English, History and Geography and taught in the UK, which gave him an opportunity to explore the battlefields and see the encampments and cemeteries of significance to Australians. This stimulated his research and writings related to the Great War and he became a prolific author and authority on the War. The vast majority of his 130 or so books focused on the Great War.

John Laffin was also active in the formation of the Western Front Association in the UK and Europe in 1980 and he conceptualised and campaigned for the development of the Australian Corps Memorial at Hamel, dedicated on 4 July 1998. It was on this day that John conceptualised the establishment of the Families and Friends of the First AIF and he helped with the early planning for this before his untimely death in 2000.

The John Laffin Memorial Lecture provides an opportunity to showcase current research in Australian military history of the AIF and was introduced by the FFFAIF president Jim Munro.

The 2021 John Laffin Memorial Lecture

The 2021 John Laffin Memorial Lecture was presented on Saturday 25 September 2021 by Dr Meleah Hampton, an Australian military historian at the Australian War Memorial and ambassador-at-large for the Western Front Association described aspects of the planning and execution of the t1st and 2nd Battles of Bullecourt in France in April and May 1917. These two battles had the same objective, an attack against the newly constructed Hindenburg Line, to which the German forces had retreated in early 1917,  in order to shorten their lines and conserve precious manpower.

The Lecture was delivered via ‘Zoom webinar’, in conjunction with the Western Front Association in the United Kingdom to facilitate an international audience commencing at 7:00pm Eastern Australian time, 10:00am UK, 11:00am France and Belgium, 9:00pm NZ. More than 200 people participated in Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Belgium and the United States.

Dr Hampton’s Lecture described how the two Australian battles that we call 1st and 2nd Bullecourt were planned and executed. Meleah used war diaries and operations orders, along with contemporary accounts, to explain the  processes by which Headquarters planning was developed for the battles, and the reasons for firstly the failure of 1st Bullecourt in April, then the decision to repeat the attack in early May, and lastly to describe the stalemate that followed the end of operations. Meleah also revealed startling influences on the planning, some from unexpected places.

Australian troops in a sunken road at Noreuil on 17 May 1917 with remnants of the village in the background. The graves of Australian soldiers killed in 1st Bullecourt and near Langicourt are visible and are resting in what became the CWGC Noreuil Australian Cemetery. [AWM E2021]

Four of the five Australian infantry divisions fought at various times in the two battles, at a cost of nearly 10,000 Australian casualties. British losses were over 8,000 killed, missing and wounded in action.

Twelve British Mark IV tanks were allocated in the first attack on the 11th of April. They were used to replace artillery which had been diverted to other tasks on the Arras front! This left the 62nd (2nd West Riding) Division and the Australian divisions without essential fire support. The tanks failed, being ‘ditched’ or destroyed in their move forward, and the infantry advance broke-down. The dawn attack failed and the forces returned to their lines.

The decision to use tanks in the battle to substitute for artillery, imposed by HQ 5th Army (based on advice received from a junior tank commander), caused very high casualties amongst the troops. It made the Australians distrustful of tanks until well into the next year, confidence that was not to be restored in their use until the final AIF battles of the war. Staff planning processes in HQ 1 Anzac Corps were poor. Dr Hampton argued that General Birdwood and his chief planner Brigadier Brudenell White abrogated their responsibilities and did not, or were unable to, persuade General Gough to adjust his guidance and allocate artillery support.

The second attack did use artillery and the Australian and British forces achieved a limited degree of success. The Australian 2nd Division extended the line a thousand yards forward, and they were able to secure their objectives and repel German counterattacks. 1st and 2nd Bullecourt were nevertheless, like at Pozieres the previous year, a series of operations that had a crippling effect on Australian manpower and the morale of the men involved in the fighting.

Dr Hampton’s new interpretation of the battles and, at times, her controversial assessment of the performance of the commanders was founded in rigorous archival research that brought the battles to us in a new and original way. The talk was followed by Q&A and discussion.

The FFFAIF expresses our thanks to Dr Hampton for her talk, and to the UK Western Front Association for their co-operation and technical support in delivering the webinar.

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Commemoration of the Battles of 3rd Ypres in 2021

43 Divisions of British and Dominion troops were involved in the Battles of Third Ypres.

I ANZAC Corps, consisting of the 1st, 2nd, 4th and 5th Australian Divisions, and II ANZAC Corps consisting of the 3rd Australian Division, the New Zealand Division with 2 British Divisions on rotation, fought alongside each other for the first time.
The battles lasted for 102 days with more than 300,000 casualties.

Australian Divisions participated in the following battles:

  • Menin Road, 20-25 September 1917
  • Polygon Wood, 26 September to 3 October
  • Broodseinde Ridge, 4 October
  • Poelcapelle, 9 October
  • Passchendaele (First Battle), 12 October 1917

Sydney

Sydney has been subject to COVID19 restrictions and a lock-down was imposed for Greater Sydney in July that has subsequently been extended until the end of September. This meant that the Anzac Memorial has been closed to the public and commemorations cancelled.

Fortunately, staff at the Anzac Memorial were able to lay a FFFAIF-supplied wreath in the French and Belgium Niche of the Hall of Memory and the Office of Veterans Affairs Communications team posted the event on social media.

FFFAIF on behalf of all relatives and friends of the Australian soldiers involved in the Battles of 3rd Ypres would like to express our appreciation to the staff and volunteers of the Anzac Memorial and the Office of Veterans Affairs for helping to commemorate the anniversary.

[Click on the following images to see more detail]

 

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DIGGER 76

 

CONTENTS

Articles

2nd Lieut William Harold Treloar, AFC, Heather Ford  3-9

Sister Ella Lord, AANS, contrib. by Faye Threlfall  10-12

1916 letter: L/Cpl 1524 Frederick McCann, 15th Bn, found on Trove  12

Pte 1515 Eugene Sullivan, 9th Fld Amb, Harold O’Keeffe  13-14

Checklist when taking over a new sector of the line, 34th Bn war diary  14

Tragedy for the 9th Fld Amb at Passchendaele, Graeme Hosken & Peter Benson  15-22

Capt Arthur McIntosh, 1st Bn & Dental Corps, contrib. by H Cooper, G McIntosh, B Cooper  23-24

L/Cpl 5622 William Mitchell, 18th Bn, Peter Bartley  25-27

Red Dust (memoirs of a light horseman), Chapter 7, Tpr 3073 John Gray, 6th LHR  28-34

The Skidmore siblings in WWI: Pte 228 Hector (2nd Bn), Margaret (AANS, Salonika), Jean (AANS, India), Graeme Hosken  35-45

Tpr 82 Harry Bunyan MM, 12th LHR, Trevor Munro  46-50

Pte 50978 George Herbert Taylor, 35th Bn, Bill Durrant  51-53

Chaplain Adam Stuart McCook, Bill Durrant  53

Diaries of L/Cpl William Lycett, 4th Fld Amb, Vol II (1916), Part 3, contrib. by Tim Lycett  54-57

Pte 4251 Roy Mayall, 7th Bn, found on Trove  57

“Cheer-Up” in South Australia, Paul Simadas  58

Lieut Leslie Butler MC, DCM, 9th Bn, Marie McAleer, Sue Tongue & Graeme Hosken  59-60

‘Star Effort at Gallipoli’ – the Gallipoli Star medal, Paul Simadas 60

Cpl 176 Sutton Henry Ferrier MG, 10th LHR, Ian Gill  61-62

Pte 106 Claude Henry Cicognani, 1st & 13th Fld Amb, Robyn Smith & Graeme Hosken  63-66

The diary of Pte 106 Claude Henry Cicognani (Part 1: Egypt), CH Cicognani  66-72

Pte 1375 George Thomas Wilson, 34th Bn & 3rd MG Bn, Ian Wilson, B Durrant & G Hosken  73-74

 

Regular features

Trench Talk and Contact/Membership details 2

AIF anecdotes: ‘Memories of Digger days’, ‘The World’s News’ 9, 24, 27, 34, 45

Arabic-English translations, from the diary of CH Cicognani 12, 58, 62

Etched in Stone, Russell Curley and Jim Corkery  75

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Fromelles Day 2021 Commemorations @ Sydney, Melbourne and Fromelles

19 July was the 105th anniversary of the Battle of Fromelles, the first engagement of the Australian Imperial Force 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 166 of these soldiers have now been identified by name.

Download a copy of this report by clicking here Fromelles Day 2021 Commemorations @ Sydney, Melbourne and Fromelles.

Sydney

Unfortunately, the number of new cases of COVID19 in Sydney increased in the fortnight before the scheduled Commemoration and led to a lock-down for Greater Sydney that has subsequently been extended until the end of August. This meant that the Commemorative Procession and Commemoration Service that FFFAIF helps organise in conjunction with the Trustees of the Anzac Memorial was cancelled.

Fortunately, staff at the Anzac Memorial were able to lay a FFFAIF-supplied wreath in the Hall of Memory and the Office of Veterans Affairs Communications team posted the event on social media. This enabled the Anzac Memorial Trustees to honour the 1966 request of the final parade of the 5th Division veterans on the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Fromelles to always remember the sacrifice of the 8,100 soldiers of the 5th Division Killed in Action during the First World War and those who have died since.

Fromelles Day 2021 Sydney Wreath on 5th Division wreath stand in the
Anzac Memorial France and Belgium niche.
Photos by NSW Anzac Memorial & Office of Veterans’ Affairs
[Click on images to enlarge and see details]

Melbourne

There was also a wreath laying scheduled at the Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne in conjunction with the Friends of the 15th Brigade that was impacted by the lock-down in Melbourne. Lambis Englezos AM, Co-Founder of the Friends of the 15th Brigade and Honorary Member of FFFAIF laid a wreath at 2pm.

Fromelles Day 2021 Melbourne Lambis Englezos with wreath at Cobbers Statue
Photo from Lambis Englezos
[Click on images to enlarge and see details]

St Clare’s College Fromelles Documentary

Fortunately for those unable to attend these commemorations, they were able to have their own personal reflection and view the recently launched 30 minute St Clare’s College Fromelles Documentary. This extraordinary documentary reflects their 3 years of research, interviewing descendants and using innovative technology and gives an overview of the battle as well as an appreciation of its impact on families and the significance of the Battle of Fromelles in Australian history today in addition to highlighting the students’ work.

Fromelles

At 6pm French time on 19th, precisely the time when the Australians were attacking the German lines (2am AEST Tuesday 20th), a Commemorative Ceremony was held in Fromelles with a drink of Friendship at the Cobbers School afterwards. Face masks and social distancing was required. F.W.T.M.14-18 Secretary and FFFAIF Honorary Member, Carole Laignel [CL] of Fromelles and FFFAIF Belgian Member Daneille Roubroeks [DR] attended the Commemoration and have provided photographs of the Commemoration, as has Carole’s friend Dominique Bascour [DB] and Fromelles Museum’s Geoffrey Bouillet [FM].

Carole sets the scene:

At 6pm, the bells of the church were ringing and the important persons of the ceremony entered the very beautiful well flowered cemetery!

It was very hot, around 27°C, no wind, sunny and clear! We were lucky!

For the association A.S.B.F.* and then F.W.T.M.14-18, it was a special event, as it was the 30th anniversary of their first celebration of the Battle of Fromelles.

*In 1990 the Association pour le Souvenir de la Bataille de Fromelles (A.S.B.F. 1914-1918) created the Fromelles Weppes Terre de Mémoire 14-18, a museum in the town hall at Fromelles, which exhibited many of the artefacts found on the old battlefield.

Earlier in the afternoon, a wreath was laid by Martial and Catherine Delebarre on behalf of the F.W.T.M.14-18 at the Kennedy Memorial to Commemorate those who fell in the Battle of Aubers Ridge on 9 May 1915 as well as those soldiers of the British 61st Division in the Battle of Fromelles on 19 July 1916.


Wreath laid by Martial and Catherine Delebarre on behalf of the F.W.T.M.14-18 at the Kennedy Memorial, Fromelles. Photos: Dominique Bascour [DB]
[Click on images to enlarge and see details]

The Commemoration at the Fromelles (Pheasant Wood) Military Cemetery commenced with the entry of about 40 flag bearers from various sections of the L’Union Nationale des Combattants (UNC – similar to the RSL Sub-Branches in Australia). Some had travelled significant distances and is testament to the esteem in which the memory of the Australian soldiers’ is held in France.



UNC flag bearers from Lille, Linselloise, Fleurbaix­ and surrounding areas
Photos: Dominique Bascour [DB],  Daneille Roubroeks [DB]
[Click on images to enlarge and see details]


The final flags to enter were those for Fromelles UNC, UK and Germany.
Photos: Daneille Roubroeks [DR]

Dignitaries entered including, M. Richard Smith, Sous Préfet (most senior provincial official) and Her Excellency Ms Gillian Bird, Australian Ambassador to France and the Mayor of Fromelles. M. Jean-Gabrielle Masson. Captain Ken Macaulay-Black RAN represented Colonel Joel Dooley, Australian Defence Attaché and was followed by Ms Rebecca Doyle, Counsellor at the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA).


Photos: Dominique Bascour [DB],  Daneille Roubroeks [DR]

Carole estimated that around 100 people were there, silent, moved with a profound respect for the Australian soldiers killed in action during the 2 days of the Battle of Fromelles.

Master of Ceremonies, Lieutenant Colonel François Nozaïc welcomed those attending and introduced the Mayor of Fromelles, M. Jean-Gabrielle Masson. [Carole says he was speaking in very good French!]

Click here to see the Order of Service


M.C. LtCol Francois Nozaic and M. Jean-Gabriel Masson, Mayor of Fromelles.
Photos: DB, DR

The historical context of the Battle of Fromelles was presented by Ms Rebecca Doyle, Counsellor, Department of Veterans Affairs.


Ms Rebecca Doyle, Counsellor, Department of Veterans Affairs Photos: DB, DR

French and Australian Commemorative Addresses were presented by Mr Richard Smith, Sous Préfet and Her Excellency Ms Gillian Bird, Australian Ambassador to France.


Commemorative Addresses Sous Préfet and Australian Ambassador to France.
Photos: DB, DR

Individual tributes were laid to the fallen with children of Cobbers School laying 2 roses (one white & one red) at the graves of soldiers “Known unto God”. There was a stone on the headstone to make it easier for them to find the grave.

 
Cobbers School students laying tributes at the graves of soldiers “Known unto God”. Photos: DB, DR

The Official Wreath laying followed, led by M. Richard Smith, Sous Prefet and Australian Ambassador Ms Gillian Bird.


Sous Prefet and Australian Ambassador laying wreaths. Photos: DB, DR

Jean-Gabriel Masson, Mayor of Fromelles and Pierre Dugardin laid a wreath on behalf of the village of Fromelles and the UNC Fromelles


Mayor of Fromelles and President UNC Fromelles laying wreaths.  Photos DB, DR

Florence Morlighem, Deputy Du Nord and Frederick Marchand, Senator Du Nord laid wreaths. A wreath was also laid on behalf of Monsieur Damien Castelain, President of the European Metropolis of Lille. CAPT Ken Macaulay-Black RAN laid a wreath on behalf of the Australian Defence Forces and Ms Rebecca Doyle laid a wreath on behalf of the Australian Department of Veteran’s’ Affairs.


Wreath laying on behalf of Deputy Du Nord, Senator Du Nord, Metropolis of Lille, the Australian Defence Forces and the Australian Department of Veteran’s’ Affairs.
Photos: DB

A representative of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) and a Commodore of the Canadian Defence Forces also laid wreaths.


Wreath laying on behalf of Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) and the Canadian Defence Forces. Photos DR, DB

A British Army Colonel laid a wreath alongside Lt.COL Philippe Blanchard, President, UNC Sequedin section.


Wreath laying on behalf of the British Army and UNC Sequedin section. Photos DR, DB

Martial Delebarre AM and Jean Marie Bailleul laid a wreath on behalf of Fromelles Weppes Terre de Mémoire 14-18 (F.W.TM.14-18). A wreath was also laid by a Belgian soldier, (wearing a green beret) member of a Commandos’s association in memory of the soldiers who fought in the Battle of Fromelles.

Wreath laying on behalf of Fromelles Weppes Terre de Mémoire 14-18 and a Belgian Commando’s Association in memory of the soldiers who fought in the Battle of Fromelles. Photos DB

A wreath was on behalf of the 31st Battalion Association by Corrine Seillier (Pierre’s wife) and a niece of Annie Moreel for Madame  Demassiet.


Wreath laying on behalf of the 31st Battalion Association and Madame Demassiet.
Photos: DB


Wreaths of Senator Du Nord, Mayor of Fromelles, Department of Veterans’ Affairs, 31st Bn Association & CWGC, and Sous Prefet, Region du Nord, Metropolis of Lille, UNC Sequedin. Photos: CL, DB
[Click on images to enlarge and see details]


Wreaths from the people and Government of Australia and the Australian Defence Forces Photos: CL


Wreaths laid for UNC Fromelles, Deputy representing du Nord, Canada, UK, FWTM and Madame Demassiet. Photos: Photos: DR, DB

The Ode of Remembrance was recited in English by Captain Ken Macaulay-Brown RAN, who had participated in last year’s Commemoration and was representing Colonel Joel Dooley, Australian Defence Attaché in France, and then by Pierre Dugardin, President UNC Fromelles section in French.

The Ode recited by CAPT Ken Macaulay-Black RAN and then Pierre Dugardin President UNC Fromelles. Photos: DR

The Last Post was sounded, followed by A Minute’s Silence and the Rouse.


The Last Post. Photos: DR, DB

The National Anthems of France and Australia were played.

Master of Ceremonies, LTCOL Francois Nozaic concluded the Commemoration and invited the Flag bearers to lead the Dignitaries in procession.


Concluding the Commemoration. Photos: DR, DB

Prior to the Commemorative Service, FWTM Martial and Catherine Delebarre had laid a tribute on behalf of FWTM at the headstones of the Wilson brothers Sam and Eric, both killed in the battle and lying side by side.

Tributes for Sam and Eric Wilson. Photos: DB

Fromelles personalities resting after the Commemoration
Pierre Sellier, who is well known in Australia for posting tributes to Australian Soldiers who fought in the Battle of Fromelles rests in the entry to the Fromelles (Pheasant Wood) Military Cemetery with Madame Demassiet and families. Madame Demassiet is the current owner of the land in which burial pits were dug by the Germans following the Battle and from where the remains of 250 soldiers were recovered and reinterred with full military honours in the Fromelles (Pheasant Wood) Military Cemetery in 2010.

Fromelles Day 2021 Pierre Sellier and Madame Demassiet. Photo CL

As the sun sets over the Cemetery, the words of Rudyard Kipling’s Recessional come to mind:

The tumult and the shouting dies;
The Captains and the Kings depart:
Still stands Thine ancient sacrifice,
An humble and a contrite heart.
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget—lest we forget!


Fromelles (Pheasant Wood) Military Cemetery. Photos: CL, DR

Thanks to them!
May they rest in Peace
Lest we forget.

Acknowledgements and Appreciation

Thanks to Carole, Danielle, Dominique and Geoffrey for their photographs and reports.

Thanks to the Australian Embassy, FTWM, Cobbers School, Musee de la Bataille de Fromelles and the Fromelles community for organising the Commemoration.

Thanks to the Fromelles community for caring for our Australian and British soldiers’ graves and welcoming Australians and other visitors to your community.

Jim Munro
President FFFAIF

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