Five Headstones in Fromelles Rededicated
15 July 2013
The newly identified soldiers, Private William BARBER, Private
Thomas William FRANCIS, Private William O'DONNELL, Private Thomas
Henry BILLS and Private John Gordon McKENZIE, were among 250
Australian and British First World War soldiers who were recovered
from a mass burial site at Pheasant Wood in France. The soldiers
were recovered by a joint Australian Army and UK Ministry of
Defence project team in 2009, before being reburied in the newly
constructed Fromelles (Pheasant Wood) Military Cemetery in
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission erected new headstones
with the identified soldiers' details, ahead of a dedication
ceremony which took place during the annual commemoration of the
Battle of Fromelles on 19 July 2013. The identification of the five
soldiers was confirmed by the joint Australian Army and UK Ministry
of Defence project team.
The Battle of Fromelles was the first major engagement fought by
the Australian Imperial Force in France. The 5th Australian
Division suffered more than 5500 casualties (killed and
wounded) in twenty four hours. The British 61st (South
Midland) Division reported over 1,500 killed, wounded and missing.
No tactical advantages resulted from the action.