Friday, 5 July 2013

Sepia Saturday – 6 July 1885

On this day, July 6th, 1885 Allan BENNETT was born in Clunes Victoria. He was the 8th of 11 children of Henry Goulding BENNETT (1845-1934) and my great great grandmother’s little sister, Fanny COLLIER (1846-1939).

The SepiaSaturday prompt this week is a commemorative plaque dedicated to Louis Pasteur who on July 6th 1885 successfully treated a boy with rabies vaccine.

I thought it coincidental that Allan Bennett was born on this day, and there are a number of ‘plaques’ commemorating him, his colleagues, and the Battle of Fromelles where they lost their lives on 19/20 July 1916.  
It's also coincidental that this month is the 97th anniversary of the battle.

The family had moved to Perth, Western Australia before 1900.
Allan was a 30 year old grocer in Kalgoorlie when he enlisted in 1915.

During the battle, Lance Corporal Allan Bennett was seen in German lines helping a badly wounded colleague, Corporal Robert Green back to safety when he fell. 

It wasn’t until March of the following year (1917) that Germany returned his identification discs, and not until May 1917 that Allan’s family was notified that he was Killed In Action – a long anxious wait for the family.

I’ve blogged about Fromelles a couple of times after visiting there last year. 
Here are two links for more information and more photos: one written on the anniversary, and one just after our visit.

A book, Fromelles The Final Chapters - How the buried Diggers were identified and their lives reclaimed written by Tim Lycett and Sandra Playle has just been released and will be launched at the end of this month. 
One of the plaques at the Cobbers Memorial
Plaque at the base of the Cobbers Memorial,
there is a photo of the Cobbers memorial in one of my linked posts. 
First part of the info plaque at the cemetery
Second part of the info plaque at the cemetery
At the Cobbers memorial near VC Corner
Info about the battle at VC Corner 
At VC Corner


  1. Oh that poor family. I can't imagine how they held up waiting for news about Allan. I'm glad the SS prompt was timed in your favor to celebrate his birthday and honor his sacrifice.

    1. There were so many families given conflicting information for years afterwards. Still holding out hope.

  2. Putting this one family death in perspective I read at the Commonwealth War Graves site, and repeat it here for your readers:
    "....In the early evening of 19 July 1916, near the village of Fromelles, in northern France, two infantry divisions newly arrived on the Western Front, the 5th Australian and British 61st (South Midland) attacked a 4,000 yard section of the German frontline centred on a notorious strongpoint called the "Sugar Loaf". Advancing over unfavourable ground, in clear view of resolute and expectant defenders, the attackers suffered terrible casualties in a matter of minutes. The action turned into a bloody catastrophe - the Australians had over 5,500 killed, wounded and missing; 61st Division reported over 1,500 killed, wounded and missing. No tactical advantages resulted from the action and it remains the worst day in Australian military history...."

    1. Thanks, Nigel for this perspective. A very bad day, indeed.

  3. Thanks Nigel.
    Also worth bearing in mind that Australia's population was only 5 million at the time - a huge loss.
    I have links to more about the battle on the other blog posts.

  4. I think that bas-relief map on the Fromelles plaque is a very effective way of giving a view of the terraine of the battle field - far better than simple photos or maps. My great-uncle died whilst serving with the AIF too, but a year later at Messines.

  5. Thank you for sharing his story.

  6. I hate to think about all those men being killed. At least, they are not forgotten.

  7. Very interesting! Thanks so much for taking all the pictures and telling us about Allen's service.

    Kathy M.

  8. A fascinating post linking local and family history.

  9. I'm glad that the date co-incided with brave Allan's birthday so that you could honour him in this way. A wonderful memorial too.

  10. A very fine tribute indeed. How sad for all the suffering, war is horrible.

  11. There has been a lot in the press this year and on TV about graves at Fromelies. To have a family link to it is quite something - another brave man,

  12. Whenever I see the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers in Washington D.C. I can't help but think of all the families who wondered if it was their boy who was in the tomb. Of course, now that all soldiers supply DNA there will never be another tomb added for anymore wars. The living will give them plaques and then some will remember, but most will forget. It's nice you remembered him in such a nice way.