Thursday, 24 May 2012

Respect and Sacrifice

We arrived Sunday evening to our farm-stay B&B.  The hostess remarked that the people of the region were very grateful to the Australian soldiers who fought against the Germans in the Great War. She added, “Fromelles was important”.
Visiting Fromelles was eerie.  Low (foggy) clouds and a frigid wind created a gloomy atmosphere.  We visited the cemetery at Fromelles/Pheasant Wood and VC Corner where the comparatively few identified victims of this wasteful exercise in war had recently been laid to rest (5533 Australian soldiers were killed, wounded or missing), as well as the Cobber’s Memorial. It was good to see that despite the weather a number of small tour groups were visiting these sites. Thanks to Albert (tour guide) who helped us find our way.
A visit to the Canadian memorial near Vimy was a large contrast - their efforts resulted in securing Vimy Ridge - what a difference planning and training made to this outcome. 
We appreciate and are thankful for the incredible sacrifices of the soldiers and their families who fought a turf war for an empire, and this strengthens our realisation as to the futility of war.
For those who don’t know my connection with Fromelles: my great grandfather’s cousin, Allan Bennett was one of the soldiers identified. I was contacted by a military researcher some years ago and helped to find the relations who provided the DNA. I have come in contact with new cousins (in WA) in the process.

Grave of Allan Bennett
Grave of unknown Australian soldier

Cobber's Memorial
Fromelles / Pheasant Wood cemetery
VC Corner

Ferme de Rosembois B&B

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