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Remembering Fromelles.



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Minister for Defence Media Mail List -----------------------------------------------------------------------

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THE HON. WARREN SNOWDON MP Minister for Defence Science and Personnel

Saturday, 19 July 2008 096/2008

The Minister for Defence Science and Personnel, the Hon Warren Snowdon MP, today called on Australians to remember and honour the sacrifice of our soldiers at the Battle of Fromelles, 19th July, 1916.

“The Battle of Fromelles was the Australian Imperial Force’s first on the Western Front and remains the single bloodiest day in the history of the Australian Army,” Minister Snowdon said.

“On this 92nd anniversary, we pay tribute to the incredible courage and determination of the Australian and British soldiers who attacked the heavily fortified German frontline.”

The battle cost more than 1700 Australian lives, and many of the dead were recovered and buried by the defending Bavarian troops in graves behind the enemy’s line. Still others lay unrecovered in No Man’s Land between the two front lines until after the war.

Whilst post-war recovery operations found and re-interred a great many remains in permanent Commonwealth War Graves cemeteries, more than a hundred from this battle were never located.

A recent archaeological excavation near Fromelles, at Pheasant Wood, has identified the mass graves of many of the unaccounted from this battle and confirmed historical research by Mr Lambis Englezos of Melbourne who brought the site to the attention of the Australian Army. The limited excavation revealed the presence of a large number of human remains as well as material evidence which confirmed that the remains were Australian and British soldiers who had fallen during the Battle of Fromelles. No remains were exhumed during the process.

“The Australian and British Governments are committed to appropriately commemorating these brave soldiers who died in the service of their country,” Minister Snowdon said.

“I have recently written to the British Minister for Veterans, the Hon. Derek Twigg, to formally confirm his agreement to draft a joint approach for commemoration at the site. Once we have secured the agreement of the French Government and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, I will announce the Governments’ decision.”

Meanwhile in Melbourne today, attended by the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Alan Griffin, a replica of the “Cobbers” statue that stands in the Australian Memorial Park at Fromelles was unveiled at the Shrine of Remembrance.

Media contacts: Kate Sieper (Warren Snowdon):

Remembering Fromelles

02 6277 7620 or 0488 484 689 Defence Media Liaison: 02 6265 3343 or 0408 498 664