27 July 2017

Rededication service for Private Thuillier Lake Cardew

A commemorative ceremony marking the 101st anniversary of the Battle of Fromelles was held at the CWGC Fromelles (Pheasant Wood) Military Cemetery last week.

 

During the ceremony conducted by the Australian Defence Force, a rededication service was held for Private Thuillier Lake Cardew.

He was previously buried as an unidentified Australian soldier, but was identified following ongoing DNA analysis since 2009 by the Australian Government.

The new headstone was unveiled by Thuilllier’s relatives – Richard Cardew and his wife.

 

The CWGC Fromelles (Pheasant Wood) Military Cemetery contains the graves of 250 Australian and British soldiers who died in the Battle of Fromelles and whose bodies were discovered in a series of mass graves in 2008.

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. No tactical advantages resulted from the action, no lasting gains were made, and the human cost was enormous. 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 one of the worst single days of loss in Australian military history.

 

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The CWGC cemetery containing the graves of First World War poets Lance Corporal Francis Ledwidge and Private Ellis Humphrey Evans – better known as Hedd Wyn – is being restored a century after their deaths.

Today, 21 February, marks 101 years since the sinking of the SS Mendi and is also South Africa’s Armed Forces Day. The sinking was one of the worst maritime disasters in British waters, and among the darkest moments of South Africa’s war. The number of lives lost was second only to the casualties suffered by the South African Brigade at Delville Wood during the Battle of the Somme in 1916.

The Commission has begun a project to document, restore and preserve its unique memorials in Africa.