Fromelles Freedom Bell

The Freedom Bell of Fromelles

The village school of Fromelles, “Les Cobbers”, hosted a special assembly for the unveiling of the new school bell – The Freedom Bell of Fromelles – on Tuesday 25th May 2010.

Photo: School children of “Les Cobbers” school Fromelles

The bell was unveiled by Australian ex-serviceman Vern Bechaz who was inspired by the respect shown by the children of the school to the fallen from the Battle of Fromelles. Mr Bechaz a veteran of the Australian Navy arranged for the bell, which is modelled on a ship’s bell, to be made in Australia and brought to France.

Photo: Vern Bechaz addresses the assembly

Photo: Mayor of Fromelles, Monsieur Hubert Huchette
addresses the assembly with school Principal
Madame Nathalie Braule

During the assembly the school children sang songs from Australia and Britain.

Photo: The school children singing a ‘round’ in three parts

Photo: Mayor of Fromelles, Monsieur Hubert Huchette thanking Vern Bechaz for the gift
(l to r) Catherine Bechaz, Hubert Huchett,
Sam Rossato from the Australian Embassy and Vern Bechaz

Photo: The Fromelles’ Freedom Bell hanging in the school entry way

The Bell is flanked by three plaques. The centre plaque depicts the colour patches of the 5th Division AIF, the outer plaques tell the story behind the Freedom Bell in both French and English.

Photo: Colour patches of the 5th Division AIF

The inscription on the plaque reads:

The Freedom Bell of Fromelles

Dedicated to the memory of Australia’s 5th Division soldiers who gave their lives in the name of Freedom during the “Battle of Fromelles” 19-20 July 1916.

The respect shown by the Principal, Madame Nathalie Braule and the school children of “Les Cobbers” Primary School in honouring Australia’s fallen has inspired ex-serviceman Vern Bechaz of Victoria, Australia and Alain Gaudet, a Canadian living in France to grant the school’s wish of a special “Bell of Remembrance”.

Cast and donated by Alliance Castings of Melbourne, Australia, the Bell is engraved with special permission granted by the Chiefs of Defence with Badges of the Australian Armed Forces.

Presented by Vern and Catherine Bechaz on 25 May 2010, The Bell, Plaques and gifts to the children of “Les Cobbers” were made possible by the generous donations of the ex-servicemen’s organizations and the people of Australia.

May the children of both France and Australia never forget the price of their Freedom when the Bell rings in the start of their school day.

Photo:  The official party at unveiling of
the Freedom Bell of Fromelles

At the conclusion of the assembly gifts were exchanged and the children talked with Vern.

: The school being presented with a boxing kangaroo flag

Photo: Catherine & Vern Bechaz receive gifts of French ‘produce’

Photos: “Les Cobbers” school children chat with Vern

The photos in this report were sent by FFFAIF member and Secretary of the Fromelles Museum Madame Carole Laignel. Many thanks once again to Carole for sharing with us what is happening in and around  Fromelles.

The following reports appeared in the local papers in Fromelles:


The Families and Friends of the First AIF thanks the Australian, UK and French Governments for affording Australian and British soldiers dignified individual reburials in the new CWGC cemetery at Fromelles, and applauds the Australian and British Governments for their joint decision to DNA test the remains at exhumation and use every reasonable method to attempt identification of each soldier.

This entry was posted in Events, Top Posts. Bookmark the permalink.