More Cobbers

The new Cobbers Statutes now stands proudly in the southern end of the Shrine of Remembrance precinct in Melbourne. It was unveiled on the 92nd anniversary of the Battle of Fromelles and stands as a symbol and reminder to all of the Australian soldiers of the 5th Division, AIF who took part in the battle on 19th July 1916. It is the first time in Australia that the Battle of Fromelles has been recognised on a national or State Memorial.

Photo: Cobbers Statue after the crowds had dispersed on Saturday afternoon [Heather Ford]

More photos from the unveiling the Cobbers statue in Melbourne can be seen by clicking here.


 Photo: Local signage [Raymond Hudson]

The original Cobbers Statute which stands as the centre piece of the Australian Memorial Park at Fromelles in northern France was unveiled in 1998. Amongst those present that day were Cobbers’ sculptor Peter Corlett (l.h.s) and John Laffin (centre), founder of the Families and Friends of the First AIF (FFFAIF) and foundation member Jim Dyer.

Photo: Unveiling of original Cobbers Statue at Fromelles.

Recent News item: Cobbers in France featured the commemorations which took place in Fromelles on 19 July 2008. A large crowd also attended these services, as can be seen in the following photos, once again generously supplied by Carole Laignel, Secretary of the Association Fromelles-Weppes-Terre de Memoire 14-18 (F.W.T.M. 14-18 ), The Fromelles Museum.

The crowd and official party gathering at VC Corner Cemetery:

Speeches and wreath laying at Australian Memorial Park:

The official party heading towards Pheasant Wood:

The large crowd walking from the village of Fromelles to the Pheasant Wood service:   

The service at Pheasant Wood:

At the conclusion of the services at VC Corner Cemetery, Australian Memorial Park and Pheasant Wood, the villagers of Fromelles hosted the ‘glass of friendship’ at the Salle du temps Libre.


A smaller crowd was present at the Sydney Commemoration Service which was held at the Anzac Memorial at Hyde Park.

Photo: Anzac memorial Hyde Park [Raymond Hudson]


Photo: FFFAIF member Stuart Curry in uniform and Master of Ceremonies, Mr Greg Read SC [Raymond Hudson]

The Commemoration address at the service was given by Mr John Haines OAM-Metropolitan Vice President RSL NSW – Trustees of the ANZAC Memorial Building:
Ladies and gentleman there is no shortage of extraordinary stories of futile courage on the Western Front during World War 1. For Australians, the Battle of Fromelles in July 1916, such futility, was a blow our young, small nation could hardly endure coming as it did just months after the disaster Gallipoli; the appalling losses were censored from contemporary news reports. Nevertheless, it is a story of astonishing bravery and moving redemption for all of us that should be told and retold.
On the evening of 19 July, the Australian and British troops were sent into a suicidal assault against the Germans at Fromelles. It was intended as a diversion. It was hoped the enemy would be forced to move valuable personnel; to the tiny village, while another attack was launched further down the line on the Somme.
In the end it was a horrific slaughter. More than 2000 Australians were lost in just 24 hours. Consider this: in just one day more Australians were lost at Fromelles than died in the Boer, Korean and Vietnam wars combined. It is possibly one of the most tragic statistics one could possibly imagine. We commemorate today, therefore, no military triumph – but the humbling triumph of human valour.
The virtues displayed at Fromelles are those Australians still hold dear. The eager courage of young men, ready to prove the value of themselves, and their country. The loyalty and self sacrifice of those men as they went forward to almost certain death.
Today we remember those troops of other nations who gave their lives at Fromelles. It should be noted that the recent discovery of some 400 Australian and British bodies located in a mass grave, may also finally bring closure to some families and their descendants.

Photo: Commemorative alcove for France and Belgium in Anzac Memorial, Hyde Park Sydney. [Raymond Hudson]




FFFAIF Policy Statement
The Families and Friends of the First AIF believes that the Australian Government through the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs should commit the to re-burial of the “missing of Fromelles” with individual graves and headstones in a new Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery at Pheasant Wood after DNA testing.

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