On July 19th, the Friends of the 15th Brigade Association organised a special commemorative service at the Shrine of Remembrance of Melbourne to mark the 102th anniversary of the Battle of Fromelles.
The guest speaker to this solemn event was The Hon Dame Quentin Bryce, former Governor General of Australia. Also in attendance were Air Vice-Marshall Chris Spence, Mr Lambis Englezos, Rev Sion Gough Hughes, Ms Myriam Boisbouvier-Wylie, Honorary Consul-General of France in Melbourne, and many other important members of the community, including the French RSL.
After the laying of the wreaths, French singer Noria Letts sang a very moving Marseillaise.
The Battle of Fromelles (19th-20th July 1916) was the first battle for Australian forces on France’s Western Front during World War I. This battle ended with a German victory and an Australian massacre: 5,533 Australians were killed, wounded or prisoners. The Australian War Memorial in Canberra describes the battle as “the worst 24 hours of Australian history.”
The story of Fromelles, like that of so many other battlefields of the First World War, is a story that bears witness to the strength of the Franco-Australian relationship and to the sacrifice made by so many soldiers, so many years ago. Lest we forget.