Listening Post

The Cross of Remembrance 2008 is currently on display at the Melbourne Shrine of Remembrance. Neil Perry was inspired to create this cross in memory of all those who served and died at the Battle of Fromelles, including his great Uncle Walter Thompson.

The seven poppies and seven gumnuts on the cross symbolise the States of Australia. The small image is based on a Frank Hurley image of soldiers on the Western Front beneath a Rising Sun that contains the colour patches of the 5th Division Australian Infantry Brigades which took part in the Battle of Fromelles – 8th, 14th, and 15th Brigades.


In the week leading up to the unveiling of Melbourne’s Cobbers Statue and the 92nd anniversary of the Battle of Fromelles the trustees of the Shrine ran a programme of public lectures featuring Fromelles.

The first of the lectures entitled Fromelles: ‘The Slaughter Was Dreadful” was presented by by Families and Friends of the First AIF member Ross McMullin.

Photo: Ross McMullin at the unveiling of Cobbers Statue

The Shrine’s public lecture programme described the talk as follows:
Author and historian Ross McMullin spoke about the dreadful Battle of Fromelles and the process that the Friends of the 15th Brigade went through to bring about the installation of the second casting of the Cobbers scultpture on the Shrine Reserve. Ross McMullins’s award winning biography Pompey Elliott has been republished by Scribe Publications with a new foreword by Les Carlyon.

To listen to Ross’ talk click here. Then click on the title Fromelles: ‘The Slaughter Was Dreadful

The second of the lectures entitled The Investigative Dig at Pheasant Wood Fromelles was presented by Maj. Gen. Mike O’Brien from the Army History Unit.

Photo: Maj. Gen. Mike O’Brien at Pheasant Wood, May 2008 [Lambis Englezos]

The Shrine’s public lecture programme described the talk as follows:
Major General Mike O’Brien was tasked by the Australian Army to coordinate the recent investigative dig at Pheasant Wood, Fromelles. In this presentation the results of the investigation were discussed, as well as future plans for the group burial site.  

To listen to Major General O’Brien’s talk click here. Then click on the title The Investigative Dig at Pheasant Wood Fromelles

The final lecture entitled Fromelles: The AIF’s Mystery Battle, Then and Now  was presented by Patrick Lindsay.

Photo: Patrick Lindsay

The Shrine’s public lecture programme described the talk as follows:
Author and journalist Patrick Lindsay spoke about the Battle of Fromelles and the recent investigative dig that took place at Pheasant Wood. Patrick Lindsay’s highly acclaimed book Fromelles was published in 2007.

To listen to Patrick Lindsay’s talk click here. Then click on the title Fromelles: The AIF’s Mystery Battle, Then and Now.


Another cross commemorating a different battle in which the AIF fought in 1916 will become the focus of commemorative service this Sunday – a cross from the battlefields of Pozieres.

Photo: St Columba Church’s Pozieres Cross [Sean McManus]

The cross is mounted in the historic St Columba Uniting Church, Ocean Street, Woollahra. Each year on the Sunday nearest to 23 July – the date on which the Battle of Pozieres began – a service is organised by the Association of First Infantry Battalions so as “Not to forget the Battle of Pozieres’. The service has its origin with the survivors of the First Battalion AIF who returned to Australia in 1919 and formed an Association and met regularly. As the numbers of this original association declined to only 5 surviving members they amalgamated with the 2nd / 1st Infantry Battalion Association to become the Association of First Infantry Battalions.

This year’s service will be held on 26th July and attendees are asked to be at the church by 9:30am.

FFFAIF member Sean McManus attended last year’s service and a report of the occasion was published in DIGGER Issue 23.
…… Commencing with a street parade by the Scots College Pipes and Drums, the Colour Party of the 1/19th Battalion RNSWR presented the Queen’s and Regimental Colours of the Battalion, which were laid upon the altar flanked by the national flag and the Black over Green of the 1st Battalion AIF.
The high point of the service was the Act Of Remembrance, when Brigadier Brereton and Officers of the 1/19th Battalion proceeded to the rear of the nave and, under an original cross from the graveyard of Pozieres, prayers were entreated, followed by the Last Post, the Ode (read by WO1 Trevor Logan RSM 1/19th RNSWR), the Lament, Reveille and the National Anthem (the Last Post and Reveille sounded by Bugler Cpl. Crellin of the 15th Royal New South Wales Lancers)………………
At the conclusion of the service a fine morning tea was provided and many acquaintances, old and new, enjoyed a pleasant time.

DIGGER is the quarterly magazine of the Families and Friends of the First AIF. Each edition of DIGGER contains many articles and photos, the majority of which are published for the first time and are provided by members. Take some time to have a look at some of the past DIGGER magazines. Click here.

If you enjoy reading our news and visiting our website you are invited to join the Families and Friends of the First AIF. We have members all over Australia and a growing worldwide membership. To meet some of our members click here.

It’s easy to join simply print off the membership form and complete. Then post it off with your subscription to our membership secretary.



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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