Soldiers and their Stories
Welcome to The Stories of Our Soldiers. These are for those soldiers who served at the Battle of Fromelles which occurred on the 19th and 20th of July 1916, irrespective of their date of death. This includes those who were killed in action at the Battle of Fromelles. It also includes those who were wounded and went on to serve in other fields of battle, and those who were captured and taken as prisoners of war at Fromelles.
These stories will predominantly be about soldiers of the Australian 5th Division, but we also wish to include stories from the British and German Divisions, and which will be equally welcomed.
The following stories of soldiers and their families - both in the immediate aftermath of July 1916 and in today’s world - are written to integrate family verbal histories and memorabilia with the more formal documentation of the Army and Red Cross records, of that era.
We believe that it is important that stories from all who fought at Fromelles on 19th and 20th July, 1916 be sought and shared, and that the reason this is important are manyfold. They include:-
- the preservation and display of our Fromelles history, both good and bad;
- acknowledging that the Army and our politicians of World War 1 were rooted in tactics and values of a diminishing empire;
- determining exactly what it is that evokes such emotion from so many, immaterial of whether they knew or were related to a Fromelles soldier; and, lastly,
- acknowledging the quantum change in social, governmental and military standards to those in place during World War 1.
The High number of Missing In Action and Why
The fact that so many were Missing In Action is undoubtedly due to the fact that their ID tags perished, they were buried by the ever changing land forms, temporary graves were lost or the level of care of the dead was abysmal. But we are the fortunate ones, by any measure, for we have an opportunity to identify some of our boys. Thus, the stories that follow, will not include all of the common material, but will focus on what we are able to document about the individual soldier and his extended family.
The Theme of Our Stories
Some stories will include letters from survivors describing the Battle.
Some will include Red Cross reports on the fate of individual soldiers.
But all will contain a soldier’s details and for many, the emotions and memories of their families of 1916.
They will reveal and share the emotional journey for them, since then and up to the current era, for this is an issue common to so many.
The stories will aim not to repeat the broader history and detail of the Battle of Fromelles, but will rather focus on the aspects relevant to the individual soldiers and their families.
All will be different, and all will be cherished.
If You Have Knowledge, or Memorabilia Which is Not Currently On Our Site:-
Please contact us, and we will assist you to write, or simply to place your story or memorabilia onto the site. See our Contact Information below.
Can I Add To, Copy, Or Use Material From A Story?
The answer is ‘Yes’. We appreciate and welcome that many families may have a story, a correction or memorabilia to add to our record. If so please, contact us. Yes, you may use material from this site provided that you acknowledge the source of the story as the Fromelles Association of Australia and the original author/custodian of such material if it is reproduced elsewhere.
We wish to Acknowledge and thank:
- our friends and the staff at the Museum of the Battle of Fromelles, France;
- the Friends and Families of the 1st AIF (FFFAIF);
- the Friends of the 15th Brigade;
- the 31st Battalion Association;
- our many volunteer researchers;
- the many Fromelles friends;
- the hundreds of families who have contributed material to our website; and
- we acknowledge the Chief of Army and the staff of the Unrecovered War Casualties – Army unit who have made identifications happen.
Identifying the Missing
Today, the Army has created and funded the Unrecovered War Casualties Unit, staffed by experts, and seeking to locate and identify all missing Australian soldiers, from all conflicts. Without these people, and the funding of the unit, there would be simply be no named soldiers of Fromelles (or of many other Battles and conflicts). This unit never existed before 2010.
Families who have supplied only one type of DNA should be aware that both Y-DNA (male line) and mt-DNA (female line) samples are vital for identifications to occur.
For the Fromelles Association of Australia and matters relating to this website, please Contact us for further information:-
Geoffrey Benn: email@example.com.
Marg O’Leary: firstname.lastname@example.org,
Royce Atkinson: email@example.com.
We also urge any family members to contact and Register with the Australian Army’s Unrecovered War Casualties Unit: firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 1800 019 090.