Fromelles Commemmoration France – 2023

The Town of Fromelles in northern France held the 107th Anniversary Commemoration of the Battle of Fromelles at Pheasant Wood Military Cemetery at 6.00 pm on the 19th July 2023. This year there were 7 newly named headstones  unveiled amongst the 250 buried in the Pheasant Wood Cemetery after they were recently identified through DNA.

The following were the newly identified soldiers:

Sgt Oscar Eric Baumann – 32nd Bn
Cpl William John Stephen – 55th Bn
Pte Alexander Russell Robert Page – 32nd Bn
Pte Maurice James Claxton – 32nd Bn
Pte Walter Allen Grace – 31st Bn
Pte Edwin Charles Gray – 32nd Bn
Pte Richard James McGuarr – 55th Bn

These men were KIA in the German lines during the Battle & buried by them behind the German lines shortly after the Battle in July 1916. They were discovered by Lambis Englezos AM & his team in 2008 and the Cemetery was created in 2010. (Forthe story of Lambis Englezos AM and his search for the missing 250 of the Battle of Fromelles search – LAMBIS ENGLEZOS – on this website.

The Commemoration was hosted by the Australian Ambassador to France, Her Excellency Mrs Gilliam Bird with Lt Col Dean Kachab officiating. The Mayor of Fromelles & other elected French Officials were present along with French Military Officers and French War Veterans. Also in attendance were relatives of 5 of the recently identified diggers from the Battle. The Director of the Sir John Monash Centre in Villers Bretonneux, Ms Rebecca Doyle was also present.

Our Honorary Member in France Pierre Seillier OAM, together with his wife, Corrine, (as he is recovering from surgery), laid a Wreath on behalf of the 31st Infantry Battalion Association.


Three of the Newly Identified Soldiers Ready to be Unveilled During the Service


Corrine Seillier Laying the 31st Bn Assoc Wreath with Lambis Englezos AM and Pierre Seillier OAM on Right

31st Infantry Battalion Association Wreath


Martial DeleBarre AM President of Local Remembrance Assoc on Left about to lay a Wreath

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Her Excellency Ms Gillian Bird PSM Australian Ambassador to France with Pierre Seillier OAM

Ms Rebecca Doyle Director of the SJMC Villiers Bretonneux

Ms Rebecca Doyle – Director of Sir John Monash Centre – Villers Bretonneux

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Lambis Englezos AM with Pierre Seillier OAM

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Four “Order of Australia” Recipients

Former Mayor Hubert Huchette AM, Pierre Seillier OAM, Martial DeleBarre AM

President Local Remembrance Association FWTM 14 -18 ( Fromelles et Weppes Terre de Mémoire 14-18,

Fromelles and Weppes Land of Remembrance 14-18), and Lambis Englezos AM

Weppes is the name of the shire in which Fromelles is Located 



Battle of Fromelles Commemoration – 2023

The annual Commemoration of the Battle of Fromelles was held yesterday (Wednesday 19th July 2023). Executive Member of the 31st Infantry Battalion Association (Brisbane Branch) Mick James describes the Commemorative event held on the lawn at the RSL in Nicholas Street Ipswich.

Wednesday 19th July 2023, the 31stInfantry Battalion Assoc (Brisbane Branch) conducted a Commemoration on the 107th Anniversary of the Battle of Fromelles, in partnership with the Ipswich RSL sub branch. This year the Commemoration was held at the Honour Stone adjacent to the Ipswich RSL Memorial Hall at 63 Nicholas St Ipswich.

The Commemoration was hosted by Mr Paul Rogers, President of the Ipswich RSL sub branch & Mr Greg Stokie , President of the 31st Infantry Battalion Assoc in Townsville. Unfortunately our Brisbane President, Mr Ray Fogg, was unable to attend due to illness.

Distinguished Guests were Dame Quentin Bryce AD CVO, Brigadier Arran Hassell CSC, Commander of the 8th Brigade Aust Army, M Alain Etchegaray, Honaire Consul representing the French Ambassador to Australia, Ms Teresa Harding, Mayor of Ipswich, Group Captain Dennis Tan, Senior Aust Defence Force Officer RAAF Base Amberley, The Honourable Shayne Neumann MP Federal Member for Blair, Jennifer Howard MP State member for Ipswich, Jim Madden MP State member for Ipswich West.

The following relatives of diggers who fought in the Battle of Fromelles were also present and laid wreaths in memory of their relatives-
Jon & Lukas Kent, Great & Great Great nephews of Cpl ER Kent MM
Sean Kirby, Great Grandson of Sgt Cyril Kirby MM
James Danaher 3rd, Great nephew of Lt James Danaher
Mr & Mrs Graham Trimble Grandson of Edgar Williams MM

After a welcome address by Mr Greg Stokie, Padre Rev Dr Peter Woodward gave prayers followed by Address of Commemoration-

Mr Alain Etchegaray spoke of the gratitude of the French people for the Australian Diggers who sacrificed so much in the defence of France.

Brigadier Arran Hassell CSC gave a moving Address on the Battle and its disastrous aftermath.

Students from Ripley State Secondary College gave an Address on Lt George Still MC of 31stBn and his actions in the Battle. (The story of Lt George Still MC was told on this website on December 2020. (Search this website – GEORGE STILL  or alternatively from the list of Archives December 2020).

Wreaths were then laid. Then the Ode was recited followed by the Last Post by Brad Strong for the 5th year in succession.

A Minute’s Silence then the Rouse followed by the closing prayers and both the French & Australian National Anthems.

A Catafalque Party from the 26 Transport Sqn- 9 FSB RAAF Base Amberley had been mounted on the Honour Stone. It was then dismounted, and the Commemoration was then completed.

Some photos are included below. I have included a map of the Battlefield for those newer members who may not have seen it before


An additional Note from Brisbane Branch Secretary Tony Wadeson

Peter Nelson & wife Barbara had driven up from Victoria. He has Visited Fromelles France, many times & was there in 2010 at the time Dame Quentin as GG, with Prince, now King Charles III, – Officiated at the Dedication and Opening of the New Pheasant Wood Cemetery where the 250 Missing Bodies were found by Lambis Englezos AM in 2008. Thats a stirring Story –  LAMBIS ENGLEZOS (search this website – LAMBIS ENGLEZOS  – for the story of the missing 250 diggers of Fromelles)
Peter a retired Airline Pilot, is our Historian on the 31st Bn. His grandfather fought at the Battle of Fromelles. He has handed over to our local historian Mick James & to the IPSWICH RSL Archives, – 30 years of Research on 31st Bn since it was raised at Enoggera 1915. He has every Digger listed (& some Photos)  Who Died, – was Captured, & Listed Missing. Plus other Battle Info. 

Fromelles – VC Corner Military Cemetery

In recent years attention has been directed towards the Pheasant Wood Cemetery where the there is an ongoing story of identification of the missing soldiers from the battle of Fromelles in Northern France (Search this website –  Lambis Englezos AM – for the story of the missing 250 soldiers).

Just 2km towards the north west of the Pheasant Wood Cemetery is the VC Corner Military Cemetery where many of the dead were re-interred shortly after the battle on 19 July 1916.

Below are a number of photos depicting VC Corner Cemetery during the Centenary Commemorations (July 2016) of the Battle of Fromelles posted by Richard Hope -Hawkins . The Colours of the 31st Battalion The Royal Queensland Regiment, were paraded both at VC Corner Cemetery and at Pheasant Wood Cemetery at Fromelles during the commemoration.


Vale – Darryl Somerville

Emails were received from Tony Wadeson Association Secretary (Brisbane Branch).


Members, I refer to the email (below) from John Tannock President of 2/25th Bn Association, advising of the passing of Member Darryl Somerville.
Darryl was the son of – CPL Ray Somerville 2/31st Bn who was – WIA – 27/11/42 at Gorari in New Guinea.
RIP Darryl Somerville

A Funeral Service held on 7th July 2023 at 10.30AM at All Saints Anglican Church – 501 Hamilton Rd Chermside.



Members, I refer to the above mentioned email regarding the Passing of our member Darryl Somerville. I wish to advise that Mick James attended the Funeral Service last Friday on behalf of the 31st Bn Assoc. & the Veterans, Families, & Friends of the 2/31st Bn. I have also forwarded a Condolence Card to Darryl’s family on behalf of us all.

Darryl Somerville RIP

Regards TONY

The following background to Darryl’s story and that of his father( 2/31st Bn member) Roy  comes from  our  Association member Mick James:

Darryl was the son of a 2/31st Bn digger who visited Gorari on the Kokoda Track, where his father was wounded and others from 2/25th & 2/31st Bns were KIA during the battle of Oivi – Gorari (4 – 11 Nov 1942). In 2018 Darryl unveiled a Memorial with members of 2/25th Bn Assoc in honour of those who died.
Pte Roy Somerville served with 2/31st Battalion in the Middle East and New Guinea on the Kokoda Track. While on the Kokoda Track he was promoted Cpl & subsequently to A/Sgt on 1st Oct 1942. On 11th Nov 1942 Roy was wounded at Gorari, north of Kokoda, during the Battle of Oivi – Gorari where members of both 2/25thBn & 2/31st Bn were KIA. Roy was subsequently evacuated to Australia where he was later discharged.

Roy’s son, Darryl, in honour of his father’s service, travelled to Gorari with relatives of 2/25th Bn members on 11thNov 2017. They also returned in Nov 2018 and unveiled a monument in memory of the Battle and those who died there.

I met Darryl after his second trip to Gorari and he was very interested in the history of the 2/31st Bn. He subsequently attended an Anzac Service at the 2/31st Bn Memorial at South Bank and joined our 31st Infantry Battalion Association. I only learned of his death on Thursday and attended his funeral on Friday.

Darryl lived a full life and achieved much with his wife and 3 sons. He was Managing Partner of Accountants Coopers & Lybrands for 10 years until his retirement in 2005. From 2005 until 2011 he was Chairman of Brisbane Broncos Football Club and loved to remind friends & relatives that he was the last Chairman to win a Premiership.

The funeral was held at All Saints Anglican Church, Hamilton Rd Chermside, and was overflowing with mourners. The Church played a large role in the Somerville Family life. Darryl’s father, Roy, helped build the Church, Darryl was baptised, confirmed and married there. There was much mirth during the Eulogy, given by his 3 sons, David, Paul & Craig, which Darryl had requested.
Rest In Peace, Darryl.

Aged 74 years.
Late of Everton Hills.
Passed away peacefully on 2nd July 2023.
Much loved husband of Elizabeth. Adored by his sons Craig, Paul and David, Daughter in-laws, Grand daughters and his entire family.
Relatives and friends are respectfully invited to attend Darryl’s funeral service to be held at the All Saints Anglican Church, Chermside. Service commencing at 10.30am on Friday 7th July, 2023.
In lieu of flowers, relatives and friends are asked to please donate to Dementia Australia via their website.

Cliick on the Link Below for the ABC’s story of the Oivi – Gorari Battle and the Monument.


Oivi – Gorari Battle and The Memorial

The following tribute is from 2/25th Bn Association John Tannock:

I have a number of issues to update everyone on, but I thought I would get a quick update out to advise of the passing of my good mate Darryl Somerville.

Many of you would remember Darrryl from our trips to Gorari, firstly to discuss the possibility of installing a monument with the villagers of Gorari and secondly for the unveiling of the monument. Our connection was that our fathers were both wounded in the Oivi/Gorari Battle near the village of Waju. In fact, we often used to muse about the similarities between the war experiences of our fathers ……… both were from the bush and joined up at the same time. Although they were in different battalions (2/25 th & 2/31st), the two battalion supported each other through the Middle East and New Guinea campaigns. Both were wounded at Waju in the Oivi/Gorari Battle, both spent several days lying on the floor of the Kokoda Hospital before being flown to Port Moresby. They were then transported back to Brisbane on the same ship before spending several months recuperating in the Warwick Hospital…….and both had devilishly good-looking sons (Daryl loved that bit).

I found Daryl to be great company with an infectious laugh and the ability to see the humour where others saw disaster. I remember one night in Gorari when a couple of dogs barked for hours on end. Everyone was lying in their tents unsuccessfully trying to sleep. Finally, around 3:30am, the dogs stopped barking. A collective sigh of relief went around the tents until about a minute later when a rooster started crowing amongst the tents. Suddenly Daryl roared laughing with the laughter spreading around the whole camp.

Through the project to erect the monument at Gorari, Daryl was my go-to person when I needed advice. He advice was always practical and full of commonsense……….and we would have a lot of laughs at the same time.

From John Tannock: