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Centenary of Battle of Fromelles marked at CWGC Fromelles (Pheasant Wood) Military Cemetery

19 July 2016

The 100th anniversary of one of the bloodiest battles of the First World War is remembered today at CWGC Fromelles (Pheasant Wood) Military Cemetery in France.

The Battle of Fromelles was Australia's first major engagement in France. It was intended as a diversionary attack for the Somme offensive raging 80 kilometres to the south, but proved a costly failure.

Fromelles 100 CeremonyBefore the start of today's ceremony at Fromelles (Pheasant Wood) Military Cemetery

In just 24 hours of fighting the 5th Australian and British 61st Divisions suffered more than 5,500 and 1,500 casualties (killed, wounded and missing) respectively. Fromelles remains the worst single day of loss in Australian military history.

Hon Warren SnowdonHon Warren Snowdon reads a Fromelles memoir

The CWGC Fromelles (Pheasant Wood) Military Cemetery contains the graves of 250 Australian and British soldiers who died in the battle and whose bodies were discovered in a series of mass graves in 2008. It was constructed specifically to give these newly found individuals an honoured burial and was the first new CWGC war cemetery to be built since the 1960s.

The cemetery was formally dedicated on 19 July 2010 when, exactly 94 years after he died, the last of the 250 soldiers discovered in the mass graves at Pheasant Wood was interred alongside his comrades.

Fromelles DedicationDedication of 6 newly identified graves

CWGC Commissioner, The Hon Mrs Ros Kelly said: "For the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, our job at Fromelles is ongoing - as it is at war cemeteries all over the world. We are proud of the role we played in laying these men to rest with respect and dignity and proud of the work we continue to do to care for their graves and memorials in perpetuity."

Watch the construction of Fromelles Cemetery below: