Under the inspiration, driving force and dedication of Alan Regin, St George’s Memorial Church now has a new set of bells and these, in comparison to those they replaced, are capable of being rung.
Alan has been Steward of the Central Council Rolls of Honour for several years. He has worked hard to ensure that the rolls are as complete as possible, to the extent that an additional volume was required. He is also responsible for most of the photos and other additional material now forming part of the online version of the Rolls of Honour having visited many of the war cemeteries and memorials around the world where ringers are commemorated (or for some of the more distant ones, such as Port Stanley in the Falkland Islands, persuading other ringers to visit and take photographs when their trips took them nearby). During the centenary period he has organised publication in The Ringing World of monthly lists of ringing casualties for that month a century ago, and been a member of the band for many of the peal and quarter peal attempts organised to commemorate those ringers who lost their lives. It was of particular pleasure to read that Alan’s devotion to campanology has been recognised in the 2018 New Year Honours List and awarded an MBE.
I was delighted to be able to assist with the organization of the delivery of the bells in Ypres but it was not a solo effort. A great deal of help was provided by a host of good people in Ypres that included: Schepen Verschoore from Ypres Town Council and a member of his staff, Peter Slosse; Benoit Mottrie, Chairman of the Last Post Association; Unloading the vehicles at Tyne Cot was arranged by Steven Vandenbussche; The storage of the vehicles in the Infantry Barracks in Ypres was organised by Kolonel Christophe Onraet and his colleagues on site, Lieutenant Kolonel Carol Vermeulen and members of his staff.
A new ring of 8 bells which have been cast at the world famous bell foundry of John Taylor & Co in Loughborough for St George's Memorial Church in Ypres arrived in Ypres on Tuesday 30th August.
They left Loughborough on Tuesday 22nd August on First World War Dennis and Thornycroft army lorries owned by John Arthur and John Marshall from North Yorkshire. Richard Cockcroft assisted with the driving of the vehicles. Road transport was provided by Stuart Ritchie of E & N Ritchie Hauliers, Co Durham. The bells and lorries were part of the World War One commemorative display at the Great Dorset Steam Fair (from 24th to 28th August inclusive). The Great Dorset Steam Fair sponsored the road transport costs from Loughborough, Leicestershire, to the Great Dorset Steam Fair and then onto Ypres.
The bells and the lorries programme was:
Wednesday 30th August 2017 The Bells will be in Belgium and will travel from Tyne Cot Cemetery to the Menin Gate on the Dennis & Thornycroft lorries were present at the Last Post Ceremony at 8.00pm. The route and timings were: 2.30pm - 4.30pm Tyne Cot Cemetery Parking area 5.10pm - 5.35pm Hooge Crater Cemetery 5.50pm - 6.25pm Perth Cemetery (China Wall) 6.40pm - 7.15pm Railway Dugouts Burial Ground (Transport Farm) 7.30pm Arrive at Menin Gate 8.00pm Last Post Ceremony at the Menin Gate 8.30pm Depart Menin Gate
Thursday 31st August 2017 The Bells travel to St George's Memorial Church on the Dennis & Thornycroft lorries via Ypres Reservoir Cemetery and the Grote Markt, before arriving at the Church: 09.45am – 10.10am Ypres Reservoir Cemetery 10.20am – 10.50am The Grote Markt 11.00am Arrive at St George’s Memorial Church
At 5.00pm a special service was held in St George's Memorial Church where the bells were dedicated on the floor of the Church.
The fine tower of St George’s Memorial Church was built to contain change ringing bells, bells controlled by rope and wheel that turn through 360 degrees when they are rung and will be the first of their kind in Belgium. The inscriptions on the bells follow the same pattern of individual or group commemoration found in the church. Each bell has a Poppy motif cast around the shoulder.
The bells were hung in the tower during September and then other work in the tower was completed ready for the final dedication service which was held on:
Sunday 22nd October 2017 The bells were dedicated in the tower at a special service starting at 11.00am. The service was conducted by The Rt. Revd Dr Robert Innes, Bishop in Europe.
Handbells A set of 16 Victorian handbells that belonged to a Great War Veteran have been donated to the project by John Coles. These will be fully restored by the Whitechapel Bell Foundry and be available to local and visiting ringers.
Memorial Book Timothy Noad, professional illuminator and calligrapher, has been commissioned to create a Memorial Book that will be on display in the newly panelled ringing room. Each of the 64 inscriptions on the bells will be recorded in the book together with details of the donors.
Captain Henry Basil Knott 9th Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers Died on Tuesday 7th September 1915, aged 24 Grave reference V. B. 16, Ypres Town Cemetery.
Basil was born at the Manor House, Newcastle, on Thursday 5th February 1891, younger son of Sir James Knott, 1st Baronet, and Lady Margaret Knott, of Close House, Wylamon-Tyne, who was Member of Parliament for Sunderland in 1910. He was educated privately followed by Eton College as a member of Mr Arthur Conolly Gage Heygate’s House, leaving in 1910. He became a Director in the family shipping company, the Prince Line of Newcastle. At the outbreak of war Basil volunteered and was commissioned in September 1914 and went into training with his brother at Bovington. He was promoted to Captain and left for Boulogne, France on Thursday 15th July 1915 on the SS Invicta. Basil was sent to northern France to complete his training before crossing the border to begin tours of duty in the front line. Henry was in action at the Bois Carré, Vierstraat, and was mortally wounded in the head by a rifle bullet and was taken to No 10 Casualty Clearing Station at ‘Remy Sidings’ where he died the next day, and was buried in Poperinghe New Cemetery. Henry left an estate of £20,196 13s 8d (approximately £1,691,255.00 today). His father, Sir James, disposed of his company by the end of 1916 after the death of Basil’s brother, Jim and moved to Jersey. It was his wish to have the bodies of both his sons brought back to England but the authorities would not bend, despite him using all the connections and influence he had. Finally, they agreed that both boys would be buried next to each other, and so Basil was exhumed and moved to Ypres Reservoir and his brother brought from Fricourt, France. There are buried now next to each and both graves carry the same inscription: “Devoted in life, in death not divided”. Basil and Jim Knott are commemorated on many memorials raised their memory. They include: In the porch of St George’s Memorial Church, Ypres, there are three plaques to the Knott family including one to their father who donated large sums of money to the church. A trust fund in his memory was created that still operates to this day: www.knott-trust.co.uk The inscriptions in St George’s Memorial Church read: “To the glory of God and in memory of his two sons killed in action. Major James Leadbitter Knott, DSO, 10th West Yorkshire Regiment, Captain Henry Basil Knott, 9th Northumberland Fusiliers. This tower was given by Sir James Knott. MDCCCCXXVIIII.” “To the glory of God and in memory Major James Leadbitter Knott, DSO, 10th West Yorkshire Regiment, Captain Henry Basil Knott, 9th Northumberland Fusiliers, killed in action the bells in this tower were consecrated 11th November 1997.” They are commemorated at Collercoats, Heddon, and Wylam, a memorial park at Heddon was created by their father. In St James and St Basil, Fenham, Newcastle, a pair of stained glass window show each brother in uniform. He was recorded in Debretts Obituary — War Roll of Honour published in the 1921 edition. His eldest brother, Thomas, who was working in New Zealand at the outbreak of war, served during the war and survived. He succeeded to the title and lived in Courtland, Exmouth, Devon. For further information, see ‘A History of the Knott Family’
by Joan R Duckett, and ‘Pride of the Princes - History of The Prince Line’ by Norman L Middlemiss.
Major James Leadbitter ‘Jim’ Knott, DSO 10th Battalion West Yorkshire Regiment (Prince of Wales’s Own) Died on Saturday 1st July 1916, aged 33 Grave reference V. B. 15, Ypres Town Cemetery.
Citation for the Distinguished Service Order, London Gazette, Saturday 3rd June 1916: “War Office, 3 Jun. 1916. His Majesty the King has been graciously pleased to approve of the undermentioned rewards for distinguished service in the field, dated 3 June, 1916.”
His name is listed below.
Jim was born on Saturday 2nd December 1882, elder son of Sir James Knott, 1st Baronet, and Lady Margaret Knott, of Close House, Wylamon-Tyne, who was Member of Parliament for Sunderland in 1910. He was educated at Eton College as a member of the Reverend Henry Daman’s and Mr Hugh Vibart Macnaghten’s Houses, leaving in 1900 and then travelled extensively in North America. He was appointed Deputy Managing Director to his father in The Prince Line, a shipping company in Newcastle. Like his father, Jim took a great interest in politics and was selected as the Conservative Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Liberal-held constituency of Hyde. In 1916 a by-election was called in the seat but Jim gave up the opportunity of being the candidate so that he could remain at the front. At the outbreak of war Jim volunteered and was gazetted and went into training with his brother at Bovington. He was promoted to Captain on Saturday 21st November 1914. Early on Wednesday 14th July 1915 Jim arrived in Boulogne and entrained at 3.50pm for Lumbres. He marched with his men to billets in the Ouve area. Jim marched to Arques on Sunday 18th and after resting overnight moved to Steenvoorde. After the tiring march all ranks were delighted to have two days rest before continuing the march across the Belgian border to La Clytte, arriving in the early hours of Friday 23rd. All ranks were sent into the trenches in front of Kemmel for practical training with experienced, battle-hardened troops. On Monday 26th Private Arthur Hall was mortally wounded and died the next day; he was the first to be killed from the Battalion that brought home to everyone the reality of the Western Front — he is buried in Westouter Churchyard and Extension. The Battalion began its first tour of duty in its own right on Monday 2nd August in the line between the Vierstraat to Wytschaete road and the Verbrandenmolen. At 10.45am a bombardment of the line began and at 11.10am the enemy blew a mine close to ‘B’ Company that wounded Lieutenant Maidlow and four of his men, however two German soldiers were killed! A week later Jim transferred north to support an attack at Hooge. A welcome break from the front line came early on Saturday 14th August when Jim arrived in La Clytte for twelve days of rest and training. When not instructing or organising his mens activities Jim was able to visit Bailleul and enjoy the cafés, concerts, restaurants and other facilities that abounded in the town. The reality of the Western Front returned on Thursday 26th when he marched with his men from La Clytte to relieve the Border Regiment in the front line near ‘Dead Dog Farm’,
St Eloi. The Battalion remained in the sector until the end of October when they were sent to Hooge that was described: “The trenches taken over were in a very bad condition. They had all suffered heavily from both our own and the enemy’s shellfire during the fighting between the end of July and the 25th September. Several trenches had been entirely destroyed and in the support and reserve lines it had not been possible to reconstruct them. North of the Menin Road the trenches varied from 80 to 20 yards distant from the enemy’s front trenches. The large crater blown up on June 10th, when the 3rd Division attacked, is 80 feet across and 40 deep. The inside has been constantly shelled and some hundreds of men are buried in it. On the line south of the Menin Road there is a gap of 200 feet between C.1 and C.3 trenches. It has never been possible to reconstruct the intervening trench C.2 as it is constantly destroyed by enemy fire. Zouave Wood is a mass of debris and broken trees. The enemy opposite are Wurtemburgers and regiments from Alsace.” Jim was relieved on Monday 1st November; he spent the rest of the month on tours of duty in the sector. The first ten days of December were spent in reserve at ‘York Huts’ before returning to Hooge for a tour. Jim and his men were looking forward to some rest in their camp at Busseboom, where they had arrived on Wednesday 15th December, but due to a gas attack they were stood to. Christmas Day was spent out of the line but Jim was back on duty in the trenches on Boxing Day where a raid was countered later in the evening. Jim left the trenches of the Salient on Friday 7th January 1916 and after a series of marches with his men took them to Ruminghem where training continued until Saturday 5th February. He returned to a camp in Reninghelst on Monday 7th, a week later Jim was about to march to the line at St Eloi when the enemy blew a mine under ‘The Bluff’
so the relief was postponed. It was not until 6.00pm did the Battalion relieve the 10th Battalion Lancashire Fusiliers. Jim continued fighting in the sector and on Monday 28th February the Brigade Diary recorded: “10th West Yorkshire’s Intelligence Officer has sent in reports of considerable value as to the enemy’s works on the Bluff, which has enabled the artillery to destroy them. This officer, and the Intelligence Officer of the 7th Yorkshires, also discovered some enemy strong points opposite the trenches held by their Regiments. These are being destroyed by the siege battery.”
Following a terrific bombardment on Wednesday 1st March the Battalion was involved in a fierce fight and lost one hundred and twenty officers and men, killed and wounded. Active service in Belgium ended on Sunday 12th March; Jim was moved to the Armentières sector a week later where he remained until being sent south on Friday 12th May to train at Bayenghem for the Battle of the Somme. The first main action that Jim would take part in was at Fricourt, as described in the Divisional Diary: “As Fricourt Village and Wood had been excluded from attack in the first phase of operations, it was decided to cover the right flank of the 21st Division, by occupying the north edge of Fricourt village as far as Red Cottage and Lonely Copse. This attack was allotted to the 50th Infantry Brigade, which was therefore detached and placed under the orders of the G.O.C., 21st Division, and under his orders this brigade took over the trenches opposite Fricourt Village, with instructions to advance against their objective at 7.30 a.m. on the 1st July.” The Battalion received the following order for the attack: “The 7th Yorkshire Regiment will assault on a front from the Wing Corner to south side of German Tambour in conjunction with the 22nd Brigade on the right, with the following objectives: (1) Of clearing up to the eastern edge of Fricourt Village from Well Lane to Cottage Trench and Cottage Trench to Willow Avenue, there joining with the 22nd Brigade (7th Division). On reaching this objective the Battalion will re-organize with the objective of (2) Clearing Fricourt Wood as far as Willow Trench and the track leading N.N.E. to X.28.C.8.0 as soon as the barrage on the west front of Fricourt Wood lifts (i.e. 2nd Zero plus fifteen minutes from S.W. edge of wood and 2nd Zero plus one hour forty-five minutes from a parallel line 150 yards back from edge of wood). The 10th West Yorkshire Regiment will co-operate with the 7th Yorkshire Regiment against both objectives. The boundary between the two battalions will be — (1) Through Fricourt village:- The line of trenches running from the junction of Hare Lane and Red Trench to Well Lane at F.3.b. central, (2) Through Fricourt Wood:- Roughly the line of clearing running N.E. through the middle of the wood.” At 7.30am Lieutenant Colonel Arthur Dickson and Jim (his Second in Command) led the third and fourth companies forward only to be cut down by machine gun fire, they and most of their men were killed. The War diary reads: “On 1st July 1916 at 7.30 a.m. the Battalion took part in the grand assault. Casualties were very heavy, chiefly, caused by machine guns which enfiladed our left flank and were so deadly that the third and fourth lines failed to get across ‘No Man’s Land’, resulting in 22 Officer casualties, including the Commanding Officer, Lt.-Col. Dickson and Major J. L. Knott, Second in Command were both killed and approximately 750 other ranks.” Jim was originally buried alongside Lieutenant Colonel Dickson in Fricourt New Military Cemetery. After the war he was reburied with his brother, see above. A letter that Jim wrote home the day he was killed is displayed in the West Yorkshire Regiment Memorial Chapel in York Minster. The envelope was marked: “This letter is only to be sent to my father in the event of my death before 15 July 1916.” The letter reads: British Army in the Field 1 July 1916 My dearest Father and Mother, If you are reading this letter is means that this war has demanded the extreme sacrifice from me, and my object in writing is to bring you as far as I can, some measure of consolation and courage and patience to bear your sorrow. It is not in any sense a message from the grave because whatever I may or may not doubt, I have very complete faith in the Life Eternal. I know that I will be with you when you are reading this, and I want you to realise, and always remember that, although Providence has been decided that I may not return to you in the flesh, that I shall be always with you in the Spirit sharing your joys and sorrows. I feel compelled by my knowledge of you both to write this, because my own great anxiety at the present time is the possibility of your collapse if I follow ‘Pomp’. Momentous events are looming up and I have a premonition that I may not return to you. I have been dreaming of Basil recently, and I have an indistinct recollection of a letter in Basil’s handwriting dated June 1916, which I feel is his warning message. If I am correct then you will both know Basil and I are happy. I hope and desire above all things that you will unduly grieve. You must not think harshly of me for refusing to accept safe employment, even if my action results and your sorrow. We have all to show courage — those out here in facing the music and taking what comes in a stoic manner — those at home in facing the loneliness that must follow the casualties of severe fighting. I do want you to know and realise how deeply and whole-heartedly I have appreciated and loved you both for your unselfish devotion and all-forgiving love. My life has been one uninterrupted period of all that a man could wish for or desire. If I die now I am content to do so. Life is sweet, and holds out all that a young man could desire — power, wealth and above all, great love, but I want you to know that I faced the future fearlessly, and that I was cheerful and satisfied. My medals are yours but I should like them destroyed when you both join me — whenever that may be. Always remember that I am relying upon you both to be good brave parents, and that I can only be really happy in a new life if I know and can see that you are happy too. My clothes, furniture and motor car must all be immediately disposed of, everything which reminds you of my death must be removed — this is my urgent desire and wish. God grant that you will be given health, strength and happiness for many years. Your devoted son, Jim Jim left an estate of £104,350 2s 0d (approximately £8,738,269.00 today). He is commemorated on several memorials, see his brother above for further details. Jim was recorded in Debretts Obituary — War Roll of Honour published in the 1921 edition.
Fromelles, Pheasant Wood opening
Fromelles (Pheasant Wood) Cemetery Dedication and Burial 19th July 2010
On 27 May 2008, the first day of a three week project, the outline of two burial pits was uncovered. A small excavator and hand trowels were used to meticulously remove soil and lead to the discovery of two more burial pit outlines. Over the following days, the team excavated sections of each burial pit to determine the presence of human remains. Discoveries in each of the burial pits not only confirmed that human remains were present but that it appeared that the remains of Australian and British soldiers lost during the Battle of Fromelles in 1916 were present. At the end of the excavation period the GUARD team had identified a total of eight pits and confirmed that human remains were present in five of them. A subsequent GUARD assessment of the excavations predicted that there may have been up to 400 sets of remains buried there. In May 2009, phase two was commenced by a British archaeology company – Oxford Archaeology, supervised by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission on behalf of the Australian and British governments. Oxford archaeology commenced excavating all the burial pits identified during the exploratory work of GUARD in 2008. Using a specialist team of forensic and investigative professionals including archaeologists, forensic anthropologists, odontologists, crime scene recorders and x-ray specialists, all of the pits were opened and the remains of 250 Australian and British soldiers were successfully exhumed. The work carried out by Oxford Archaeology broke new ground in the development of enhanced techniques for removing large a number of remains for post mortem analysis. Each set of remains was carefully removed and a forensic post-mortem examination was conducted. The individual sets of remains were x-rayed, photographed and every detail documented. Each set of remains was carefully packed and placed into secure storage and bone samples were taken for DNA analysis, The third phase of the project commenced in January 2010. During January and February of that year, 249 of the 250 soldiers were reinterred at the Fromelles (Pheasant Wood) Military Cemetery, the first new cemetery built by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission in over 50 years. The cemetery is within sight of Pheasant Wood and the place where they had lain unmarked for almost a century and a short distance from the battlefield on which they gave their lives. To properly recognise the commencement of the reinterments, the reinterment of the first soldier on 30 January 2010 was hosted by the Mayor of Fromelles, Mr Hubert Huchette. In attendance was the Australian Minister for Veterans Affairs, Mr Alan Griffin; the United Kingdom Minister for Veterans, Mr Kevan Jones; Vice-Chairman of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Sir Ian Garnett; and a representative of the French Minister for Defence, General Bruno Cuche; as well as several hundred spectators. Through the remainder of January and most of February the joint Australian Army and British Army ceremonial team re-interred a further 248 soldiers, leaving just one – a soldier "Known only to God"
– for reinterment with full military honours on 19 July 2010, the 94th anniversary of the Battle of Fromelles. The reinterment phase concluded on 19 July 2010 when Her Excellency, Ms Quentin Bryce AC, Governor General of Australia, His Royal Highness Prince Charles, The Prince of Wales, government representatives, relatives and 5500 spectators watched as soldiers from the Australian and British Armies laid the final soldier to rest. (Text from the Australian Army website)
Battle of Fromelles
The battle of Fromelles on 19 July 1916 was a bloody initiation for Australian soldiers to warfare on the Western Front. Soldiers of the newly arrived 5th Australian Division, together with the British 61st Division, were ordered to attack strongly fortified German front line positions near the Aubers Ridge in French Flanders. The attack was intended as a feint to hold German reserves from moving south to the Somme where a large Allied offensive had begun on 1 July. The feint was a disastrous failure. Australian and British soldiers assaulted over open ground in broad daylight and under direct observation and heavy fire from the German lines. Over 5,500 Australians became casualties. Almost 2,000 of them were killed in action or died of wounds and some 400 were captured. This is believed to be the greatest loss by a single division in 24 hours during the entire First World War. Some consider Fromelles the most tragic event in Australia’s history. Over two years after the battle, on the day of the Armistice of 11 November 1918 when the guns of the Western Front finally ceased firing, Australian official war correspondent, Charles Bean, wandered over the battlefield of Fromelles and observed the grisly aftermath of the battle: “We found the old No-Man’s-Land simply full of our dead”, he recorded, “the skulls and bones and torn uniforms were lying about everywhere”. Soon after the war these remains were gathered to construct VC Corner Cemetery, the only solely Australian war cemetery in France. It is also the only cemetery without headstones. There are no epitaphs to individual soldiers, simply a stone wall inscribed with the names of 1,299 Australians who died in battle nearby and who have no known graves. The unidentified remains of 410 are buried in mass graves under two grass plots in the cemetery. For nearly 80 years this sombre monument remained the only conspicuous reminder of the tragic events of Fromelles until, in July 1998, a new Australian Memorial Park was dedicated there. Situated close to VC Corner Cemetery on a part of the old German front line which was briefly captured and held overnight by the 14th Australian Brigade on 19/20 July, the park includes the stark remains of four German block-houses. A bronze statue, titled ‘Cobbers’, by Australian sculptor Peter Corlett, depicts Sergeant Simon Fraser of the 57th Battalion in an enduring image of the aftermath of the battle, the rescue of the wounded. Until recent years, 1,335 Australian soldiers remained ‘missing’ from the Fromelles battle, having no known grave. Then in 2007, following persistent research by retired Melbourne teacher, Lambis Englezos, archaeological investigations began to uncover the remains of some 200 Australian and 50 British soldiers who were buried in a mass grave at Pheasant Wood by German troops in 1916. Between 30 January and 19 February 2010, the remains of 249 soldiers were reinterred with full military honours in Fromelles (Pheasant Wood) Military Cemetery, newly constructed by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Over 90 Australian soldiers were identified by name and more may still be identified. Dr Peter Pedersen talks about the significance of the battle of Fromelles:
The Dedication Service and Burial on 19th July 2010
The opening of the first Commonwealth War Grave in nearly fifty years was attended by Their Royal Highnesses the Prince of Wales, The Duchess of Cornwall and The Duke of Kent, Their Excellencies The Governor General of The Commonwealth of Australia, Mrs Quentin Bryce, AC, the French Minister of State for Defence, Mr Hubert Falco, The Chief of Staff of the General Staff of the British Army, general Sir David Richards, The Australian Chief of Army, Lieutenant General Ken Gillespie and other guests. Following the arrival of the most senior of guests, HRH The Duke of Kent, President of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, welcomed everyone to the ceremony. An excellent illustration and performance of the story of The Battle of Fromelles was given before the arrival of the coffin of the last soldier to be buried in the cemetery. The coffin was transported on a First World War military wagon after processing from close to where the bodies were found and through the village to the cemetery. The clergy was headed by The Venerable Stephen Robbins, QHC, Chaplain-General to Her Majesty’s Land Forces British Army, accompanied by The Reverend Russell Mutzelburg, Principal Chaplain Australian Army, The Reverend Catie Inches-Ogden, senior Chaplain Army Headquarters (Australia), The Reverend Father Paschal Hanrahan, CF, Roman Catholic Chaplain, Royal Corps of Signals British Army. The Minden Band of The Queen’s Division, British Army, provided the musical accompaniment under the direction of Captain Simon Haw. The coffin was brought into the cemetery and taken to the open grave where it was lowered into the grave. The Australian Army Collect was read by Lieutenant General Ken Gillespie: “Almighty God, strengthen and protect all who serve in the Australian Army, and grant them your blessing. May they work together in a spirit of loyalty, courage and friendship. Fill them with high ideals, and inspire them with a spirit of love and good will for all mankind. We make this prayer through him who died in the service of other, Jesus Christ your Son our Lord.” Lieutenant Colonel Jim Landon, Commander, 1st Battalion The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers read their Collect: “O God our Guide from of old, grant that wherever thy servants of The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers are called upon to serve, we may follow the example of thy servant St George and ever prove steadfast in faith and valiant in battle, through him who is the Captain of our salvation, Jesus Christ our Lord.” The Rifles Collect was then read by Lieutenant General Sir Nick Parker, Colonel Commandant: “O Almighty God, the sure stronghold of each succeeding age, guard us your servants of The Rifles, that we may uphold and be worthy of the great traditions of our former Regiments; and as we were chosen to be swift and bold, may we seek with courage your grace in every time of need, and so be patient and preserve in running the race that is set before us, as did your Son Jesus Christ, our Lord.” The Exhortation was given by The Honourable Alan Griffin, MP, Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Australia. The firing party fired three shots that was followed by the Last Post, one minute silence and Reveille. HRH Prince Charles laid a wreath that was followed by the senior guests and others laying theirs. His Royal Highness Dedicated the cemetery followed by HE Mrs Quentin Bryce who led the tributes the fallen. Children from the village provided the guests with single roses that were placed on the grave. Following the national anthems of France, Australia and Great Britain the guests paraded through the Guard of Honour provided by the gardeners from the CWGC who had worked on creating the cemetery. Cars took the guests to a reception at the local town hall after which Camilla, HRH The Duchess of Cornwall came and spoke to the very small crowd that were waiting to wave them off. I was lucky enough to be the first person HRH greeted and we had a short chat. She was, as always, absolutely beautiful and so wonderfully charming. For me it was a perfect end to a most special day.
Fromelles (Pheasant Wood) Military Cemetery
Fromelles is a small village situated in the Nord Pas de Calais region of Northern France, 22kms west of Lille and 104kms south east of Calais, close to the villages of Aubers and Herlies. The cemetery is sign posted from the main N41 Lille - La Basse road. When arriving in Fromelles the cemetery is located on Rue de la Basse Ville opposite the church and civil cemetery. In the early evening of 19th 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 four thousand 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. For a more in-depth account of the 1916 Battle of Fromelles visit www.cwgc.org/fromelles. Completed in July 2010, Fromelles (Pheasant Wood) Military Cemetery is the first new war cemetery to be built by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission in fifty years. The cemetery contains two hundred and fifty Australian and British soldiers, whose remains were recovered in 2009 from a number of mass graves located behind nearby ‘Pheasant Wood’, where they had been buried by the Germans following the disastrous battle of Fromelles on Wednesday 19th and Thursday 20th July 1916. The cemetery was officially dedicated by HRH Prince Charles on 19th July 2010 and was designed by Barry Edwards.
The GPS co-ordinates are: N 50.60809, E 2.85212
No of Identified Casualties: 144
The photographs below begin with Fromelles as the cemetery was being completed. The cemetery was surrounded by high boarding that was decorated by pictures drawn by children and in addition there were information boards telling the story of the discovery of the bodies and construction of the cemetery. In the center was a makeshift ‘alter’ for wreathes to be laid with a window looking into the area around the cemetery. Opposite, and close to where the burial pits were, were the temporary buildings where the examination of the remains, artifacts and DNA testing took place. There are some photographs of the day before the Dedication where the hearse was practicing for the actual event.