Of the soldiers of 53rd Battalion of the Fifth Australian Division at Fromelles only three of the men in the photograph came out of the battle alive and all three were wounded.
It was during the battles of Fromelles and Pozieres that Australia suffered 23000 casualties, of these, 6800 soldiers were killed, a loss comparable to those numbers in the Gallipoli campaign. On this battlefield, the soldiers had to endure the mud, the stench of bodies decaying, the flotsam of war, towards their destiny.
Both battles saw the brave and courageous men from all walks of life, including the Gloucester region, depart from our shores with a firm belief that they would return to their loved ones.
The Australian troops lacked experience in trench warfare in 1916 and the power of German defence was significantly underestimated by the higher ups and the men on the ground. Despite their inexperience they threw themselves into their preparation but nothing could prepare each soldier for combat.
The Fifth, First and Second Division were unprepared for the artillery by the Germans as they concentrated the bulk of their artillery on the Australians. However, the Second Division attacked the German positions time and time again, even though exhausted, they attacked again and the Australians with their ‘get up and go’ attitude, held on.
In the fields of Frommelles and Pozieres, the Gloucester men who fell, were never to see the beauty and tranquillity that Gloucester is known for, the smell of eucalyptus from the gum trees, and the rolling hills of home.
The men from Gloucester who paid the supreme sacrifice in the fifth division were Sgt Burns A, Pte Germon G, Cpl Harris H, Pte Higgins W B. Pte Laurie A D, Pte Williams A E and Pte Yardy R A and from the Second Division Pte Walsh who was later to die of wounds.
Against all the odds and defiance of all expectations, the Australians developed into a military force beyond peer. This small band of civilian volunteer soldiers shaped the outcome of this terrible war which saw the armies of the great European nations crumbled around them.
Lest we forget.
Anzac Day program
- 5:30am Dawn service, Gloucester Memorial Park clock tower
- 6:30am Wreath laying, Anglican Church
- 7am Wreath laying, Gloucester cemetery
- 7:15am Wreath laying, Gloucester District Historical Museum
- 10:25am Wreath laying, Gloucester Soldiers Club
- 10:30am March departs Gloucester Soldiers Club
- 11am Anzac Day service, Gloucester Memorial Park clock tower