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Webmatters : Fromelles (Pheasant Wood) Military Cemetery
Rough Map of Area

Pheasant Wood

The Burials

30th January 2010

Information panels outside the construction site

Information panels outside the construction site

At 0800 hours the sky turned grey and the snow began to fall. Within the hour it had begun to settle quite heavily on the roads leading to Fromelles. Within the village the Roads Service had been out salting the road and the villagers had cleared the footpaths.

Fromelles : 30 January 2010

For a moment it looked grim as visitors from the UK and Australia mixed with the French in the local cafés. Many of those who had come from abroad were there because of the possibility that a lost relative could well be amongst those who had been recovered in the field adjacent to Pheasant Wood.

Schoolchildren from France, the UK and Australia provided artwork

Schoolchildren from France, the UK and Australia provided artwork

John and Nick

John and Nick, aged 10 and 9

At 1030 hours people began making their way down to the new cemetery site almost opposite the village church. The fresh layer of snow crunched underfoot and everyone was expecting a cold stand.

Then, as the church bell tolled 11 o’clock the sun came out.

The original burial site at Pheasant Wood

The original burial site at Pheasant Wood

 

A new cemetery

For the first burial in this, the first new CWGC Cemetery in almost fifty years, a single soldier had been chosen from amongst the 250 whose remains had been recovered.

248 of the remainder will be buried in February 2010 and the last soldier will be laid to rest at a ceremony on the 19th July 2010, the anniversary of the Battle of Fromelles in 1916.

Soldiers from the 1st Battalion Royal Regiment of Fusiliers and the Australia’s Federation Guard provided the Bearer Party, Firing Party and Orderlies.

Following the interment the gathered assembly was addressed on behalf of the three governments by the UK Veterans’ Minister Kevan Jones, Australia’s Veterans’ Affairs Minister Alan Griffin and Général Bruno Cuche Governor of The Invalides, Paris.

 

A gesture of mankind

Speaking in English Général Cuche said that providing a proper grave for these soldiers :

…completed one of the oldest gestures of mankind. It is the gesture of devotion, it is a gesture accomplished by every son for his father and by every nation for their heroes. The heroes we are burying here honour Australia’s promise. Let them rest in peace in this land for which they shed their blood and which owes them everything, including freedom.

The mayor of Fromelles, Hubert Huchette, reminded us that despite the passage of time

…that our clay soil still holds in its womb the soldiers who gave their lives for freedom. Soon they will all rest here a few feet away from our church at the centre of our village. We have always gathered our Fromelles dead around the church.

 

Some photos from the day’s events

French veterans Awaiting les British The bearer and firing parties Two RSMs escort the hearse Advancing towards the hearse The French Honour Guard from the 43e RI The chaplains lead the procession Reversed Arms The coffin passes A fitting resting place In honour Général Bruno Cuche, Alan Griffin and Kevan Jones At the village Hall At the village Hall The RSM does know how to smile

Click on the thumbnail for a larger version

 


Recent Additions

Canadian Cemetery No.2

Givenchy Road Canadian Cemetery

Petit Vimy British Cemetery

CWGC Poppy Button