I spent an inspiring day going to three different services in Fromelles to commemorate ANZAC Day.
First was at the “Don’t Forget Me Cobber” Statute at the Cobbers Memorial. On 19 July 1916 so many of our soldiers died and were buried in mass graves behind the German lines and not identified for almost 100 years. The 5th Australian Division suffered 5,533 casualties, over 90% of the infantry involved in the attack. The 61st Division suffered 1,547 casualties, some 50% of their attacking strength. I will talk more on Pheasant Wood graves identification later.
The Second ceremony was at VC Corner. The Mayor of Fromellles Jean-Gabriel Masson gave a moving speech and tribute to the Australian Soldiers who lost their lives fighting to defend the village of Fromelle in the First World War.
Then we moved to the Pheasant Wood Military Cemetery. At this ceremony there was a burning of Eucalyptus leaves as an emotionally beautiful symbolic gesture to cleanse the past and start anew friendships between all cultures.
If you are in Fromelles be sure to visit the new Pheasant Wood Museum. http://www.musee-bataille-fromelles.fr/?lang=en