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Commemorating the 90th Anniversary Battle of Fromelles 19-20 July 1916


Today, Wednesday 19th July 2006 marks the 90th anniversary of the Battle of Fromelles, northern France in 1916.
Remembering the more than one thousand Hunter Valley men fought with the Australian Imperial Force's 5th Division at Fromelles and commemorating the following seventy three Hunter Valley men who were either killed in action or died from wounds:

Pte Thomas Henry Allanson, Merewether, 53rd Inf Bn
Pte Eric Charles Arkell, Newcastle, 30th Inf Bn
Pte John Andrew Bainbridge, Young Wallsend, 53rd Inf Bn
*Pte James Balsdon, Weston, 30th Inf Bn
Pte Russell Henry Balsdon, Weston, 30th Inf Bn
*Pte Harold John Bourke, West Maitland, 30th Inf Bn
Pte John Brown, East Greta, 54th Inf Bn
Sgt Austral Hunter Burns, Rawdon Vale, 53rd Inf Bn
Pte Victor Alexander Camps, Wickham, 30th Inf Bn
*Pte Douglas Caswell, Stockton, 30th Inf Bn
Pte Walter Edmund Churchill, Hexham, 30th Inf Bn
*Pte Henry Alfred Cressy, Boolaroo, 54th Inf Bn
Pte George Croft, West Wallsend, 30th Inf Bn
Pte Edward Leslie Downie, Maryville, 53rd Inf Bn
Sgt Roger Bede Donnellan, West Maitland, 54th Inf Bn
Pte Leslie Dryburgh, Wallsend, 30th Inf Bn
Pte Randolph Dunbar, Scone, 54th Inf Bn
Pte Woodley Cole Easom, West Maitland, 60th Inf Bn
Pte Thomas Easton, Teralba, 30th Inf Bn
Pte John Williamson Forsyth, Newcastle, 60th Inf Bn
Pte Bertie Gardiner, Plattsburg, 53rd Inf Bn
Pte Percy Geason, Merewether, 55th Inf Bn
Pte Andrew Gilbert, Hamilton, 53rd Inf Bn
Pte Sylvester James Gollan, Tighes Hill, 53rd Inf Bn
Pte John Goold, Kurri Kurri, 53rd Inf Bn
Pte Robert Hamilton, Cessnock, 31st Inf Bn
Cpl Eric Floyd Hancock, Monkerai, 55th Inf Bn
*Pte Charles Henry Hawcroft, Merewether, 30th Inf Bn
Pte Matthew Hepple, Kearsley, 30th Inf Bn
*Pte William Bruce Higgins, Gloucester, 30th Inf Bn
Pte John Innes, Hinton, 54th Inf Bn
Pte Frederick Hillgrove Jackson, Broadmeadow, 30th Inf Bn
Pte John Jones, Newcastle, 30th Inf Bn
Cpl Hassall Marsden Kendall, Singleton, 31st Inf Bn
Pte Alfred Kentish, Lambton, 54th Inf Bn
Pte David Laing, Wickham, 30th Inf Bn
Pte John Joseph Larkins, Merewether, 31st Inf Bn
Pte Alexander Duncan Laurie, Gloucester, 30th Inf Bn
Pte James Lee, Carrington, 54th Inf Bn
Pte James Joseph Lee, Merriwa, 54th Inf Bn
*Pte George Henry Lucre, Cooks Hill, 30th Inf Bn
Sgt Edward Samuel Malcolm, Merewether, 30th Inf Bn
Pte Roy Leslie Martin, Laguna, 30th Inf Bn
Pte Arthur Frederick Matthews, Newcastle, 30th Inf Bn
Pte Charles Gordon McDonald, Lorn, 31st Inf Bn
Pte Rodger Bede McHugh, Dalwood, 53rd Inf Bn
Pte Donald Henry McKenzie, New Lambton, 53rd Inf Bn
Pte James Silver Milne, Killingworth, 53rd Inf Bn
Pte Milton James Morrison, Newcastle, 53rd Inf Bn
Pte Walter Patrick O'Keefe, Stroud, 59th Inf Bn
Pte William Whyte Owen, Muscle Creek, 30th Inf Bn
Pte Percy James Penfold, Catherine Hill Bay, 56th Inf Bn
Pte Archibald Douglas Pettigrew, Dungog, 5th Pnrs Bn
Pte Herbert Ernest Pritchard, Lambton, 30th Inf Bn
Pte John William Purcell, Neath, 31st Inf Bn
Cpl Harold George Rourke, Singleton, 56th Inf Bn
*Pte Peter Shannon, Merriwa, 53rd Inf Bn
Pte Edward Shone, Carrington, 30th Inf Bn
Pte Frederick Charles Sims, Wickham, 53rd Inf Bn
Pte Alfred John Smith, Cooks Hill, 30th Inf Bn
Pte Charles Thomas Smith, Greta, 54th Inf Bn
Pte Alfred Henry Stewart, Muswellbrook, 53rd Inf Bn
Pte William Bede Stoddart, Kurri Kurri, 31st Inf Bn
Pte Rowland Hamilton Stuart, Adamstown, 30th Inf Bn
Capt Harold Taylor, Waratah, 54th Inf Bn
Pte Frederick Tickner, Waratah, 30th Inf Bn
*Sgt William Wass MM, Pelaw Main, 54th Inf Bn
Cpl Herbert Ernest Watkins, Newcastle, 54th Inf Bn
Pte Frederick Alfred Weiss, Anna Bay, 53rd Inf Bn
Pte Alfred Edward Williams, Stratford, 30th Inf Bn
*Pte John Cyril Wynn, Largs, 30th Inf Bn
Pte Richard Alfred Yardy, Gloucester, 30th Inf Bn
Pte Claude Yeo, West Maitland, 30th Inf Bn

*Reported buried by the Germans
Inf Bn – Infantry Battalion
Pnrs Bn – Pioneer Battalion

May They Continue to Rest in Eternal Peace.
7/19/2006, 10:52 am Link to this post Send PM to diggerdave
 
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Re: Commemorating the 90th Anniversary Battle of Fromelles 19-20 July 1916


A long list, Dave. A disgrace that the battle on which they died does not appear on the Hyde Park Memorial. DIGGER magazine will be featuring some excellent first hand accounts of Fromelles in the next two issues. Graeme
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Re: Commemorating the 90th Anniversary Battle of Fromelles 19-20 July 1916


I am thinking that only 'victories', and not 'defeats', were listed on war memorials.
Of interest, there was a handover yesterday, Wednesday 19th July 2006, of a new defence housing estate near Newcastle, 'Clarence Jeffries Estate', to coincide with the 90th anniversary of the Battle of Fromelles and to honour Jeffries, who I gathered from the local radio news, was at Fromelles.
As those of us in the know know, Jeffries was in the 34th Infantry Battalion of the 9th Brigade, and while Fromelles was taking place in northern France, Jeffries and the 9th Brigade, who had only landed in England about a month before, were in camp on the Salisbury Plains. It was not until November 1916, four months after Fromelles and Pozieres, that the 9th Brigade (and Jeffries) were in France.
And, I was quoted in 'The Newcastle Herald' yesterday (isn't it funny that the local media contact me in regard to such matters) that the defence housing estate's name should correctly be the 'Clarence Jeffries VC' estate to acknowledge Jeffries' Victoria Cross.
There is a street in the new estate named Fromelles Circuit. Bullecourt is also commemorated, as well as a few other least known about Great War battles.
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Re: Commemorating the 90th Anniversary Battle of Fromelles 19-20 July 1916


A great turnout at the Melbourne Shrine commemorated the Battle of Fromelles with a deeply respectful 90th Memorial Service hosted by the Friends of the 15th Brigade.
Wreaths representing the 12 Infantry Battalions of the 3 Brigades of the 5th Div were laid by descendants of fallen.
Lambis Englezos MC'd the service with speakers Dr Bruce Scates and Robin Corfield, Blessing by the Rev Lieut Col Graham Redfern and a most stirring Ode by Brig Keith Rossi (Rtd).
Lambis was also behind getting the 60 Minutes TV item on the missing gravesite of about 179 men at Fromelles which aired last Sunday.
Was pleasantly pleased to meet some other forum [sign in to see URL] Frev will be able to add further.
A Battle possibly not greatly commerated but definitely NOT forgotten.
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Re: Commemorating the 90th Anniversary Battle of Fromelles 19-20 July 1916


quote:

Bluegum wrote:

.........A Battle possibly not greatly commerated but definitely NOT forgotten.



And I am proud to have done 'my little bit' up here in the Hunter Valley to raise awareness to the 1000 Hunter men who fought and the 73 Hunter men who died at Fromelles exactly ninety years ago.
"Their memory shall never be blotted out."
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Re: Commemorating the 90th Anniversary Battle of Fromelles 19-20 July 1916



Dave - the Hunter Valley men would be proud of you, and all that you are doing to preserve their memory.

Graeme - I of course always look forward to my copy of 'Digger' - but will be even more interested in reading these first-hand accounts.


Agreeing with Bluegum, I was pleasantly surprised by the attendance at the Melbourne Shrine on Wednesday - I heard one gentleman suggest there could be up to 150 'packed' in to the sanctuary to pay their respects.

One person we met that day, a young sailor laying the wreath for the 56th Battalion, informed me that when he originally told people that he'd been asked to lay a wreath - they had no idea of the significance - then after '60 Minutes' had aired the item on Fromelles it all became clear to them. Isn't it amazing what a little bit of TV coverage can do!

The amazing incident that Bluegum eludes to - is that despite the crowd at the Shrine - 4 individuals managed to gravitate towards each other and discover a link - the link of the Forums. Three of us being members of this Forum & the fourth a member of another forum that some of us frequent. It was pure destiny - and a wonderful outcome to such a solemn occasion.

Apart from an overall show of respect, my two main reasons for being at the ceremony were 2 lads from Inglewood: Pte John Joseph SIMONS, 3608, 57th Bn, 'a quiet, pleasant-natured boy' who died on the 20th; and Pte Frank Harold DONALDSON, 3088, 60th Bn, who died on the 19th.

Frank died in a shell-hole cradled in the arms of his big brother Don (who was badly wounded at the time). These words were passed on to their parents by Don: "Poor little Frank knew he was going, and asked me to say the Lord's Prayer with him, and said, 'Poor old Dad.' But he was as brave as could be, and when his time had come a few hours later he died game and said goodbye to me quite calmly. In fact, he took it a good deal better than I did. I would gladly have changed places with him, for he made me feel a bit of a coward, the calm way he was taking it. So you have something to be proud of, Dad, for he died the way you would have any of us die, and he has shown us the way."

Lest We Forget. Frev.

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Re: Commemorating the 90th Anniversary Battle of Fromelles 19-20 July 1916


Revisiting this post from 2006 (eight years ago) it is pleasing to now know that the following ELEVEN Hunter Valley Diggers, among the Fromelles Fallen, have been identified by DNA matching:-
Of interest here is that there were TWO Hunter Valley men identified in 2011 whose service records show no record of them being buried by the Germans in the mass graves at Pheasant Wood. These men are Private Percy Geason of Merewether and Private Matthew Hepple of Kearsley.
I think these two men’s names didn’t appear on the Army’s list because no documentation was contained in their service records to indicate they were buried by the Germans in the mass graves at Pheasant Wood, possibly because of their identification discs and pay books not being found on them when buried.
The eleven Hunter Valley men already identified by DNA and buried in Fromelles (Pheasant Wood) Military Cemetery:-
Pte Harold John Bourke, 30th Inf Bn, 22, Railway Employee, West Maitland.
Pte Henry Alfred Cressy, 54th Inf Bn, 22, Locomotive Driver, Boolaroo
Pte George Croft, 30th Inf Bn, 24, Hospital Attendant, West Wallsend
Pte Percy Geason, 55th Inf Bn, 29, Labourer, Merewether
Pte Charles Henry Hawcroft, 30th Inf Bn, 21, Labourer, Merewether
Pte Matthew Hepple, 30th Inf Bn, 19, Miner, Kearsley
Pte William Bruce Higgins, 30th Inf Bn, 19, Grazier, Gloucester
Cpl Hassall Marsden Kendall, 31st Inf Bn, 21, Bank Clerk, Singleton
Pte George Henry Lucre, 30th Inf Bn, 23, Machinist, Cooks Hill
Pte John Cyril Wynn, 30th Inf Bn, 20, Labourer, Largs
Pte Claude Ward, 30th Inf Bn, 23, Plumber, Singleton

At least FIVE Hunter Valley Fromelles Fallen are yet to be identified by DNA matching, the five known ones being:-
Private James Balsdon, 27, miner, Weston, 30th Inf Bn
Private Douglas Caswell, 22, butcher, Stockton, 30th Inf Bn
Private Peter Shannon, 35, shearer, Merriwa, 53rd Inf Bn
Sergeant William Wass, 33, fitter, Pelaw Main, 54th Inf Bn
Private Claud Yeo, 40, auctioneer, West Maitland, 30th Inf Bn.

Mat they rest in Eternal Peace.

Last edited by diggerdave, 6/24/2014, 2:03 pm
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Re: Commemorating the 90th Anniversary Battle of Fromelles 19-20 July 1916


Hi Dave, just discovered this site & your post. I'm doing family research & found that my maternal grandmother had a brother, James Joseph LEE, service # 4533, killed at Fromelles. To date I can't find any information that confirms his remains have been found & identified.
Do you have any further info. please ?
Stroudie
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Re: Commemorating the 90th Anniversary Battle of Fromelles 19-20 July 1916


Hullo Stroudie.
If you don't mind my asking, are you from Stroud, NSW?
In reply to your question, I do not know.
The Army History Unit may be able to assist in some way, or failing that, one of the more knowledgeable readers or contributors on this forum.
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Re: Commemorating the 90th Anniversary Battle of Fromelles 19-20 July 1916


Hello Dave,
Thanks for your reply, yes I'm trying all sorts of avenues to try & get info.
No, I'm not from Stroud, but a Newcastle suburb.
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