The disastrous attack at Fromelles, France, on the night of 19 July 1916, the first engagement undertaken by the Australian 5th Division on the Western Front, also proved to be the most costly. By the time the action was called off the next morning, the Australians had lost 5,533 men killed, wounded and missing. Casualties for the British 61st Division, who attacked alongside the Australians, numbered 1,547.
The War Commission’s records suggest that between 19 and 21 July 1916 the Australian dead at Fromelles amounted to 1,780, the British 503. Many of those killed in the engagement could not be accounted for at the time. Historians have long speculated that up to 400 of the missing dead were recovered by the Germans in the days following the attack and buried behind their lines. Painstaking research led to the possible identification of several mass burial pits on the edge of Pheasant Wood near Fromelles. In May 2008 the Australian Government asked the Commission to oversee a limited excavation to establish whether or not the pits contained remains. The three week dig found conclusive evidence that substantial numbers of Australian and British soldiers had been buried in five of the eight pits identified.
In May 2009 work to recover the dead for individual reburial in a new military cemetery at Fromelles began.
The cemetery will be opened in 19 July 2010 and for those who want more information, the link is here:
Any information relating to Australia and the Anzacs
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