I have just finished reading the book by Patrick Lindsay which tells the story of the discovery of Australian soldiers buried in a mass grave at Fromelles. But it is more than a story of that discovery – remarkable in its own right, and poignantly achieved by a Greek born Melbourne school teacher who clearly has Australian DNA well and truly leached into him. It is also a reminder of how poorly our troops were utilised in France. After surviving Gallipoli many of who had survived that madness were killed and wounded in a feint which Haig and his staff believed would distract the Germans from the main Somme battle. Trouble was the Germans knew it was a feint and paid it scant attention – only sufficient to rebuff it. Fromelles remains today our worst military disaster.
Anyway, this post not intended to bang on about what a mess that was (we all know it) but to highlight the current work that is underway in France right now unearthing and identifying the soldiers discovered in a mass grave left over from the 1916 battle. There is a helpful site about Fromelle here, and another that addresses the current dig in Fromelle. This is the site of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, while the related blog gives a regular update on progress. It’s worth a quick look, if only to honour the memory of Lt Simon Fraser who repeatedly went out into no man’s land to bring back those wounded in the Fromelles attack. Are we made of such courageous stuff these days? I truly hope so.
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