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Webmatters : Fromelles (Pheasant Wood) Military Cemetery
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Pheasant Wood

The 95th Anniversary

19th July 2011

The Joint Identification Board reconvened in London on 4th April 2011 as part of the continuing effort to identify some of the remaining 154 unknown soldiers. As a result a further fourteen Australian soldiers were identified.

In coordination with the annual commemorations that take place at Fromelles the headstones of these fourteen soldiers were newly dedicated in the presence of numerous members of their descendants.

As those attending began to gather in the cemetery at 1800 hours the reasonably warm and sunny day began to turn black and the rain began to fall. It was the story of the summer of 2011 — grey and wet.

It wasn’t a heavy downpour just a gentle mizzle but enough to put poppy coloured umbrellas up along the line of onlookers. Thankfully it didn’t last and an hour later as the ceremony commenced, although it was a little wet under foot we were not having to try and watch from behind a barrage of brollies.

Warren Snowdon the Australian Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and M Hubert Huchette, Maire for the village of Fromelles recounted the battle and the work that had been undertaken to create the new cemetery and identify those who lie within it.

Major General Brian Dawson read the roll call of the fourteen soldiers who have received their new personalised headstones — no longer amongst the missing. A trumpeter from the Garde Republicaine sounded the Last Post and Rouse and the ceremony was drawn to a conclusion by children from the village of Fromelles laying a flower on each of the newly identified graves.

Following the ceremony the public were invited back to the Cobbers school for a vin d’amitié. The school which had been inaugurated in October 2009 by HE David Ritchie, Australia’s Ambassador to France houses the paintings that used to surround the Pheasant Wood Cemetery construction site.

Unusually for a French school its weather vane is not a Gallic cockerel but a kangaroo and there are two clocks on the entrance wall one for France and the other for Australia.


The ceremony

By six o'clock it was getting pretty dark Then it began to rain M Huchette and other guests Guard of honour  provided by the 41e RT from Douai Family members Major Jason Kerr Children from the village of Fromelles The Hon Warren Snowdon MP The cemetery was ringed by onlookers M Hubert Huchette, Maire de Fromelles The Guard of Honour The Hon Warren Snowdon MP Major General Brian Dawson read the Roll Call of the Fallen The trumpeter from the Garde Republicaine The Last Post Followed by the Rouse and National Anthems The children getting ready for their moment of duty Each wain had a rose for one of the new headstones Each of the fourteen new headstones would receive a rose Looking for his headstone Captain T Sheridan's headstone Corporal C Murray Corporal F Fletcher A job well done It had been a sizeable crowd watching the service Cobbers School, two clocks and a kangaroo HE Mr David Ritchie, Australian Ambassador to France

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