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Battle of Fromelles 19-20th July 1916

Listed under Battlefields in North East France, France.

Photo of Battle of Fromelles 19-20th July 1916
Photo by flickr user Wy@rt
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This was just one field and chapter of the Somme, conducted on the 19th and 20th of July 1916 south of the Somme front about the town of Fromelles. Worth adding to this list for two reasons. The first relates to the current time: there had long been rumours of a mass grave for Allied fatalities at Fromelles and in 2007 a geographic survey was carried out to test the rumours and what seems to be the fabled mass grave was found. Closer inspection turned up war relics and it’s now believed around 400 men were buried here so this is an active site. The second reason is that the battle itself was a huge and shameful loss and an important lesson for humanity in general.

On with an explanation of the second reason: This was the first battle outing on the Western Front of the Australian Imperial Force and was planned to distract German forces away from the Somme. In these 24 hours the Allies gained no ground and around 7,000 men were killed, wounded or captured, more than 5,000 of them Australian. The Allied plan was the same as many others at that time - bombard the Germans with artillery fire then rush their line with infantry. The main problem in this instance was that there were no trenches in the German second line so men remained exposed and were cut down by machine gun fire. In a truly magnificent cock up orders for a second attempt were given then retracted without telling all the Australian forces and they went over the top alone. Not able to hold the trench-less positions, more men feel to the heavy machine gun fire during the retreat. Australian losses on that day were more than they had sustained in a 24 hour period, ever.

BBC Report about the discovery of the mass grave.

Written by  Anthony Harrison.

Other expert and press reviews

“The Forgotten Fallen”

By Ross McMullin for The Sydney Morning Herald First published July 19, 2002 More than 5500 diggers were killed or wounded within a few hours at Fromelles. Casualties equalled the combined toll for the Boer, Korean and Vietnam wars. Yet, writes histor… Read more...

Written by press. Full Article from The Sydney Morning Herald

Comments, reviews and questions by other travellers

Were there any Canadian soldiers buried at Fromelles?

1 Reply

There's a large Canadian graveyard at nearby Vimy Ridge, but I think it's largely Australian and British soldiers buried at Fromelles.

Accomodation and parking for disabled traveller for opening 19th July?

Do you think there will be a chance of finding accomodation nearby at this late date also what might be the position for car access for registered disabled driver? We can stay anywhere withing 20k to be honest. The parking issue the most important.

Thanks

Hope some-0ne can help

RE :Frommelles Commemoration 19th July 2010

If we wanted to attend the ceremeony on 19th July 2010 at Fromelles where would we stay? How would we get to Fromelles? We don't want a tour of several days.

5 Replies

There's a list of recommended hotels to stay in to the right hand side of the picture. Where are you coming from? That determines the best way to get there.

The best way to see Fromelles is by car,which you could hire at Lille. VC Corner is quite a bit out of the village and a fair walk, Pheasant Wood itself is quite central to the village and behind the Church on farming ground (Please respect Farmers crops !!)There is no accommodation in Fromelles itself, the nearest accommodation is at Fournes En Weppes , of which there is a Gite ( Bed and Breakfast)I have been to Fromelles many times as my husband is a great nephew of Simon Fraser(Cobbers Statue)If you do decide to rent a car, I would suggest staying at Ypres/Ieper in Belgium as I think it is much nicer than Lille, its about a 35 minute drive to Fromelles, and you could also visit the Menin Gate, Fromelles to Lille is about 30 mins drive, good luck with your plans

Hi Wendy,

My husband and I are also planning to attend the ceremony on 19 July 2010 and are planning to stay in Lille as we will be travelling by train from Paris and then leaving by train for the UK. We too are not sure of how to get to Fromelles for the ceremony. Maybe we could share care hire if you are staying in Lille?

Love to hear from you.

Cheers

Thank you to the people who have taken the time to reply to this question. Denise I would like to talk to you further. Please email me on haliwell63@bigpond.com

Wendy Taylor

There's also the possibility to stay at Fromelles with one of the proposals made by the inhabitants to receive visitors. Maybe, it's preferable to contact the embassy to find out one of this address.

If you want stay more than 2 days in the area, you can also find B&B around 10km of Fromelles.

For instance : paysdeweppes.free.fr/sej_h_chambres.htm

There is also an hotel at Englos (10 km from Fromelles)

Or you can also stay at Ieper (more indicated for battlefields memory tour) or Lille (more touristic, capital of the North of France). Lille is about 1 hour by train from Paris (with the TGV, high speed train).

Fromelles is a small village, less than 1000 inhabitants.

The best way to arrive at Fromelles is by car (but not necessary the 19th Morning where lot of routes will be blocked). Bus lines from Lille (18km) are quite rare. The nearest subway station is about 12km.

I suppose it's preferable to contact the CWGC to know more.

Jean-Gabriel Masson

Fromelles - Commemoration of a Battle

Visitors to the battlefield at Fromelles even these days easily can picture the 1916 location of the British and Australian front lines, no man's land and the German front line. VC Corner stands slightly ahead of the right hand side of the Australian sector and looks across a flat field towards the Sugar Loaf Salient which was the well fortified German strongpoint that severely impeded the Australian attack. To the left is the Memorial Park standing on the old German front line. The flat terrain gives some idea of the lack of cover for troops attacking the enemy but the slight rise to the top of Aubers Ridge shows that the Germans had the huge advantage of observation across the British lines in this sector and this, along with the effectiveness of the Bavarian Division, proved decisive in 1916.

In the village on top of the ridge is a splendid museum containing a superb collection of artefacts from private collections as well as those found on the battlefield. It commemorates the village's experience in WW1 and especially the 1915 and 1916 attacks in the fields below Aubers Ridge. A mass grave has been identified behind the German lines and a new cemetery (Pheasant Wood) is to be created in 2009/10 for the bodies discovered there. A full account of the battle can be found in 'Fromelles 1916' by Paul Cobb History Press.

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