Battle of Fromelles Commemoration – Info and Venue Map

31st Bn Assoc. Members, & Friends. We ask you all to join us, – 31st Bn Association, in conjunction with the Ipswich RSL Sub-Branch to the 107th Anniversary of -The Battle of Fromelles Commemoration Service. (Please refer to the attachments below.)
This a BIG DAY of Commemoration for the 31st Bn Association. – As the 31st Bn (now 31/42 Bn RQR) is the only Battalion out of the 5th Div AIF which took part in the Battle of Fromelles in WW1 – still on strength in the ADF today We therefore ask you to join us at our Commemoration Service on Wednesday 19th July. 
We are Honoured this year to have Dame Quentin Bryce AD CVO as our Special Guest. 
On the 19th July 2010 the then Prince of Wales, now King Charles III, together with Dame Quentin Bryce the then Governor General of Australia, were the Guests of Honour at the Official Opening and Dedication of the new Fromelles – Pheasant Wood Military Cemetery. This Cemetery was specially built by the CWGC to house the 250 Bodies of mainly Australian and some British soldiers discovered buried at Pheasant Wood in 2008 – 92 years after the Battle. Many of these bodies have since been identified by DNA as soldiers of the 8th BDE (Many of 31st Bn)
We are also honoured to have – BRIG Arran Hassell CSC, Commander 8th BDE, as  the Principal Guest Speaker. (31st Bn was part of the 8th BDE at the Battle of Fromelles.)   
DATE/TIME: – Wednesday 19th July at 11.00 AM 
LOCATION:- Honour Stone, – Soldiers Memorial Hall.  – 63 Nicholas St. Ipswich Q’ld
DRESS:- Jacket & Tie with Medals/Service Dress
RSVP:-  Secretary 31st Bn Assoc. – Tony Wadeson –  or Phone/Text – 0427 337 177
Fromelles Commemoration – Ipswich Venue and Parking Information

Battle of Fromelles 19th/20th July 1916 – “Brief”

The 19th July 2023 will be the 107th Anniversary of the “Battle of Fromelles” on the Western Front – WW1. Fromelles is situated in France near the Belgian Border just south of Ypres & west of Lille.

It was the First battle undertaken by Australian Troops on the Western Front.

It was carried out by the, 8th – 14th & 15th Brigade’s of the Aust 5th Division & on their Right, the British 61st Div. – (Territorial troops)

(The 31st Bn led by LTCOL Fred Toll was part of the 8th Brigade)

Fromelles was planned by the British as a Diversionary Attack to convince the Germans not to move troops south to the Somme, where the British & French had started a major push on the 1st July. 11 Divisions of the British 4th Army had sustained massive casualties exceeding eighty thousand, on the Somme around the Pozieres area, up to the time of 19th July, with little to show for it.

A British General, LTGEN Richard Haking planned the attack at Fromelles. This was unfortunate for the Australians, as he had previously been involved with planning an attack 14 Months earlier with British troops, over exactly the same ground, with absolutely no gain & very heavy casualties. His plan for the Australian 5th Division was basically the same plan with less Troops & less experienced Australian Artillery, against a now improved, fortified in-trenched enemy.

After the previous attack, the Germans spent the period improving & fortifying their Defences around Fromelles with Concrete Bunkers, & O/head protective cover of their trenches from Artillery. They had a clear view of the Australian Front line and an excellent observation of the battlefield from the Church Spire in the village of Fromelles. The Germans also had the Australian Front Line & supporting areas well ranged by their Artillery & Mortars. They had a year to practice their ranging.

The Battle of Fromelles attack started with Artillery Bombardments at 11.00 AM & at 6.00 PM (in broad daylight) the troops advanced, with the 8th Bde – 31st & 32nd Bn’s leading the attack on the left, with the 14th Brigade’s 54th & 53rd Bn’s on their right. These two Brigades had to cross about 100 yds of clear open ground of No Mans Land in front of the 31st & 32nd Bns, & up to 200 yds in front of the 54th & 53rd Bns. But, the 15th Bde on the extreme right, had to cross about 350 yds of clear open ground to reach the German Front Lines. The 15th Brigade’s two leading Battalions were almost wiped out in “No Mans Land” by heavy machine gun fire, from the “Sugarloaf position” & very few Diggers managed to reach the German Front Line, let alone penetrate it.

The 31st& 32nd – & 54th& 53rd Bns although, taking heavy casualties, over ran the German front line. The 31st Bn CO, LTCOL Fred Toll proceeded forward Approx. 400 yards looking for the proposed 3rd & 4th Lines of German Trenches, but found only muddy ditches. They returned back to a dry Ditch about 200 yards behind the main German Front Line & started to dig in as their defensive line. They managed to hold it against heavy German Artillery Barrages, & overwhelming German counter attacks, but at about 2.00AM, LTCOL Toll decided to move back to the Main German line.They held out until about 6.30 AM on the following morning, when they were forced to retreat back over No Man’s Land to their own lines due to lack of ammunition & reinforcements, sustaining further heavy casualties in the process.

The Attack was over in 18 Hours but wounded were still trying to crawl back & diggers going out to try to rescue them for many hours after.

The Battle achieved nothing, and was a disaster. There were no more attacks at Fromelles for the rest of the war. The bodies of the dead Australians lay in No Man’s Land, until after the War, and many who were killed behind the German Lines, remained as missing. After the war the 410 unidentified remains, in NO Mans Land were buried in Groups of 10 at “VC Corner” Cemetery at Fromelles. Those who were killed behind the German Lines remained as missing & would remain unheard of for about 80 Years. That’s another story. (Refer Below)

Roll call after the Battle recorded a total of 5533 Casualties by the 5th Division (Including almost 2000 Dead). This was the highest casualties sustained by any Div. within a 24hr period in Australian Military History.

However, due to the high casualties, the Battle was basically kept a secret, by high authority, and as the Aust. 1st – 2nd & 4th Divisions entered the Battle of the Somme on the 23rd July capturing Poziers & the high ground of the “Windmill” behind it, with a Casualty high of 23,000 over the following weeks, the Battle of Fromelles was forgotten & the casualties conveniently became part of the Somme offensive. The British never ever recorded Fromelles as a separate Battle & it is not recognised as such to this Day. We Australians regard it as a Battle, & the 31st Bn being the only Unit of the 5th Div. WW1, still operational & on strength in the ADF, will continue to recognise it & commemorate the Diggers who fought & died there.


In the late 1990’s a Greek born, Arts Teacher & amateur War Historian from Melbourne started taking an interest in the Battle of Fromelles as he had interviewed old WW1 Diggers of the Victorian 15th Brigade living nearby in Melbourne. He became convinced after checking Casualty records, and reading Corfield’s Book on Fromelles “Don’t forget me Cobber” that there were approx. 250 missing Diggers unaccounted for. Lambis was on a mission. After research of German Aerial Photographs & a visit to Germany to inspect German War records, he identified that a probable Burial site, was an area astride “Pheasant Wood” which was behind the original German front Line. Lambis requested authorities to investigate the site, but they weren’t interested. However, due to his drive & persistence, it wasn’t until 2007, that authorities allowed an Archaeological team to investigate the Site. They found evidence of Australian & British Badges on the site, almost immediately, and with the lay of the Ground etc it proved to be enough evidence of a burial site, to make a dig. It wasn’t until 2009 that the dig was made & the bodies recovered.


All remains were reinterred in a New Cemetery named “Pheasant Wood Cemetery” with Blank Headstones. DNA was taken of each Body. As remains were identified by DNA, new Headstones with their Names & Units etc replaced the Blank ones. Due to modern DNA, remains have continued to be identified each year, & their Graves noted, including quite a few 31st Bn men. It was due to the publicity of the find of the Bodies at Fromelles that knowledge of the Battle became more widespread.

Since Lambis’s discovery, new Books have been written, a new Cemetery established, & a new Museum Built in Fromelles. In 2009, Lambis Englezos was recognised for his outstanding Service and exceptional Achievement, and awarded a Member of the Order of Australia, AM. Lambis is continuing his search for burial grounds of unaccounted missing Soldiers, in various WW1 Battle Fields. Australia owes a great deal to this man.


TONY WADESON (Secretary 31st Bn Association – Brisbane Branch)


Annual Commemorative Church Service – Townsville – 2023

Members Please find the attached invitation to our Members from the 31st Bn Association President Greg Stokie Townsville to attend the Annual Kennedy Regiment Commemorative Church Service in Townsville on 20th August. Please note this invitation is extended to both 31st Bn & 42nd Bn old Boys. Anyone interested in attending please advise me. We usually have a few of us attending.  Regards Tony

VietNam Vet Receives Medal

Capricornia Company members of 31/42 Battalion, Pte Spencer & SGT Boyd engaged within the local Gladstone community recently. They were asked to present John Russel, Vietnam Veteran, The 50th Anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War Medallion and Certificate of thanks. A number of our 31st Battalion Association Members will also be entitled to receive their Commemorative Medals and Certificates. Congratulations to those members for a job well done.

Seven More Missing Diggers of Battle of Fromelles To Be Commemorated

Association Member, and regular contributor Mick James reports that seven more diggers have been identified and as a result of the untiring efforts Lambis Englazos AM (Search this website –  Lambis Englezos AM – for the story of the missing 250 soldiers) will have newly named Headstones unveiled at the 107th Anniversary of the Battle of Fromelles to be held at the Pheasant Wood Military Cemetery at Fromelles on 19th July 2023. Special mention is made of No 1537 Pte Walter Allen GRACE who was a member of our own 31st Battalion.

Our Honorary Association member in France, Pierre Seillier has created the plaques shown below and has included information from the CWGC website on the location of the graves of 6 of the 7 new soldiers identified in the Fromelles Pheasant Wood Military Cemetery:

OSCAR ERIC BAUMANN Sergeant Service Number: 10 – 32nd Bn .II. E. 11

WILLIAM JOHN STEPHEN Corporal Service Number: 2772 – 55th Bn .II. E. 5

ALEXANDER RUSSELL ROBERT PAGE Private Service Number: 1082 – 32nd Bn .IV. D. 3

MAURICE JAMES CLAXTON PrivateService Number: 1239 – 32nd Bn .IV. D. 11

WALTER ALLEN GRACE PrivateService Number: 1537 – 31st Bn .II. F. 15

EDWIN CHARLES GRAY Private Service Number: 20 – 32nd Bn .IV. D. 8

RICHARD JAMES McGUARR Private Service Number: 3873 – 55th Bn

Richard McGuarr’s information is yet to be updated and is still listed as commemorated in .V.C. CORNER AUSTRALIAN CEMETERY AND MEMORIAL, FROMELLES Panel 13.



Battle of Fromelles Commemoration – 2023

Over the past few years the 31st Battalion Association commemoration of the Battle of Fromelles has been held at Ipswich Cemetery. This year it will be held at the Ipswich Soldiers Memorial Hall in the centre of Ipswich on 19th July at 11am.

Our Honoured Special Guest for the occasion will be Dame Quentin Bryce AD CVO

The Soldiers Memorial Hall is at 63 Nicholas St Ipswich Queensland.

The Ipswich City Council 3 hr free Car Park is 800M away.