WO1 Francis Law DCM

The following information was provided by Peter Nelson who has done a wonderful job of putting together an alphabetical list of members of the 31st Battalion who served in World War 1. Below is an extract of the service record of Francis Law including the citation for the award of his Distinguished Conduct Medal – DCM. In the citation the name of the place for the action in which he was awarded the DCM is shown as Petillon. Today the action is referred to as the Battle of Fromelles.

RSM Francis Law DCM survived  WW1, living until 11th Jun 1944. He was subsequently buried in Lutwyche Cemetery Brisbane and  now, due to the efforts of the Remembrance Army,  has a memorial plaque in Lutwyche Cemetery. See the story of the Remembrance Army. Search the “Australian Remembrance Army – Projects” on this website.

Service Number 246
Rank Sgt/RSM
Born 1872, Wentworth, NSW
NOK Friend, Albert Wolfenden, Union Hotel, Barcaldine, Queensland
Father Henry Law
Mother Elizabeth Arabella Barnett
Enlistment 15th Jul 1915 Barcaldine, Queensland
Age 44
Status and Religion Single, C. of E.
Occupation Labourer
Notes A Coy, 31st Bn

Embarked at Melbourne, on HMAT A62 “WANDILLA”, 9 Nov 1915
Arrived at Suez, Egypt on 6 th Dec 1915

Admitted 14 th Fld Amb (influenza), at Ferry Post, on 26 th Apr 1916
Rejoined Bn from hospital, at Ferry Post on 5 th May 1916

Embarked at Alexandria, Egypt to join B.E.F. per HMAT ‘Hororata’ on 16 th Jun 1916
Disembarked at Marseilles, France on 23 rd Jun 1916

Awarded DCM for actions: – “At PETILLON on the 19 th /20 th July 1916, this NCO acted with great gallantry and
coolness under a withering hail of artillery on the right flank. He with about 10 men, attacked an enemy Machine
Gun’s position and put it out of action and captured it; one of the party carried it back to the main position. This
NCO afterwards got most of his little band back to the main position and held on all night.

Awarded Medal of St George 1 st Class for actions:- “At PETILLON on the 19 th /20 th July 1916, this NCO acted with great gallantry and coolness under a withering hail of artillery on the right flank. He with about 10 men, attacked an enemy Machine Gun’s position and put it out of action and captured it; one of the party carried it back to the main position. This NCO afterwards got most of his little band back to the main position and held on all night.”

To be RSM WO Class 1 (vice Brodie commissioned) on 20 th Aug 1916


(GSW face, fractured R ulna) (GSW = Gun Shot Wounds, fractured ulna = fractured forearm)to hospital on 25 th Oct 1916
Admitted 36 th CCS (GSW face) on 25 th Oct 1916
To Amb Train on 28 th Oct 1916
Admitted St John’s Ambulance, Etaples, on 28 th Oct 1916

Embarked per HS “Stad Antwerpen” from Calais, ex St John’s Ambulance to England on 25 th Nov 1916
Admitted King George Hospital, Stamford, on 25 th Nov 1916
Transferred to 2 nd Aux Hospital, Southall, from King George Hospital, on 22 nd Aug 1917

Discharged to furlough from 11 th Sep 1917 to 25 th Sep 1917 and to report to Depot, Weymouth on 25 th Sep 1917

Marched in to CD, Weymouth on 25 th Sep 1917
RTA per A35 “Berrima”, due compound fracture of R lower jaw for discharge on 31 st Oct 1917

Disembarked at Melbourne for overland journey to Brisbane

Discharged at Brisbane on 7 th Feb 1918

Died 11 th Jun 1944

Buried Lutwyche Cemetery, Brisbane

Plaque created by Association Honorary Member in France – Pierre Seillier

Metal Plaque installed at Lutwyche Cemetery Brisbane by the Australian Remembrance Army



Australian Remembrance Army – Projects

This year as we commemorate Remembrance Day we highlight the work of the Australian Remembrance Army.  Following the 107th Anniversary of the Battle of Fromelles Commemoration on 19th July 2023, the Official Party with relatives of those who fought in the Battle were invited to a light lunch at the Soldiers Hall. At the Lunch 31st Battalion Association’s Mick James made a special Presentation that tied in with the Battle of Fromelles Commemoration. Part of Mick’s presentation is recorded as follows:

“My name is Mick James and I’m on the 31st Battalion organizing Committee for this Battle of Fromelles Commemoration. I’d like to take a few moments to inform you of a similarity between this Commemoration and another occurrence in Brisbane.”

“Later today French time at Fromelles CWG Cemetery Pheasant Wood there will be another 7 graves that will now have named Headstones, bringing the total to 173 with named headstones. These men have lain in unmarked graves for at least 90 years.”

“Similarly in Brisbane and other Cemeteries throughout Australia, there are many WW1 Diggers who returned from the War and subsequently died and were buried in Military Sections of Cemeteries, almost all without a name plate on their grave. Such was the case in Lutwyche Cemetery in Brisbane until recently.”

“In 2019 the Australian Remembrance Army, led by Cate Walker & Katrina Trevethan applied for a Federal Govt Grant of $317,000, to research, produce & place metal Plaques on 709 graves of WW1 diggers who died in the 1940s,50s & 60s. The grant was approved and in April this year the 1st 247 name plaques were unveiled, including one for RSM Francis Law of 31st Bn. He is one of twenty 31st Battalion WW1 diggers who will have a named Plaque when the project is completed.”

“Francis Law was a Sgt during the Battle of Fromelles, where, for his gallant actions in enemy trenches he was awarded a Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM), and shortly after was promoted RSM.” For further information on RSM Francis Law DCM see the article – WO1 Francis Law – on this website.

Cate and Katrina were called forward to receive the presentation.

“On behalf of the 31st Battalion Association, I would like to present this Tribute to RSM Francis Law DCM to each of you in appreciation of the great work you are doing.”

For Further information on the Remembrance Army’s Project see Archives – April 2023 – on this website (Unveilling of Plaques at Lutwyche Cemetery). 

Presentation of Plaques to Remembrance Army’s Cate Walker and Katrina Trevethan

by Mick James on the Anniversary of the Battle of Fromelles 2023.

The Plaque of WO1 Francis Law DCM presented to Remembrance Army Representitives

Cate Walker and Katrina Trevethan

(Plaque was Created by Association Honorary Member Pierre Seillier)


WO1 Ray “Dasher” Deed BEM

Gathering at the Sherwood Services Club, Brisbane on 19th October 2023 were a group of members of the 31st Battalion Association for the special occasion to present a Life Membership Award to retired WO1 Raymond “Dasher” Deed BEM. Committee Member Mick James reports on the occasion:   

Today at Sherwood Services Club the 31st Battalion Association presented retired WO1 Raymond ”Dasher” Deed BEM with Life Membership of the Association for his many years of devoted service to the Association. Present at the lunch function were Brisbane branch, President Ray Fogg (who made the presentation) , Vice President Col Jackson, Secretary Tony Wadeson, & Committee member Mick James.

Ray’s Army service began in the last days of WW2 and he joined 67th Bn which was part of the British Expeditionary Force to Japan . He was there for over 4 years as it became 3rd Battalion RAR on the 20th October 1945. When the Korean War broke out in 1950, 3rd Bn RAR ,after a period of intensive training in Japan was the first Australian Unit committed to the United Nations Force and landed in Korea in late September 1950 as part of the 27th Commonwealth Brigade.

While initially the Brigade, along with other United Nations forces, pushed north of the 38th Parallel, they were forced to withdraw against the numerous Chinese troops who had joined the conflict. The 27th C’wealth Brigade (3000 troops) defended their position at Kapyong against Chinese troops estimated between 10,000-20000. The 3 Battalions of the 27th Brigade were awarded the US Presidential Unit Citation for their efforts in stopping the Chinese from taking Seoul , approx. 50 Klms to the south west.

The Battle was fought from 22nd to 27th April 1951 and Dasher blames the Chinese for not allowing him to celebrate his 24th birthday on 25thApril that year. He has mixed feelings every Anzac Day, while celebrating his Birthday, he mourns the loss of 18 fellow 3 RAR members who died during that Battle.

Dasher was awarded a British Empire Medal (BEM) in the King’s Birthday Honours on 5/6/1952. It reads-

BEM: LG 5/6/1952, p3058; CAG 19/6/1952, p2832, to 1921 Sergeant Raymond Deed, 1RHU (1st Reinforcement Holding Unit).

Citation: Integrity & devotion in training reinforcements.

Recommendation: Sergeant Deed returned to Japan from Korea on 25 June 1951 after serving during the bitter winter campaigns. Quite frequently whilst in Korea this NCO commanded a platoon with distinction. On his return he elected to stay in Japan to train reinforcements for the battalion, although he was given the option of returning to his home in Australia. Sergeant Deed was aware of the urgent need for trained reinforcements.

This Unit has always been short of officers and Sergeant Deed has been entrusted with platoons on field firing exercises, bivouacs and such exercises. His integrity, devotion to duty and ability always of the highest, has on these occasions been proved by the fact that not one man of his platoon has ever suffered injury during training.

During the period of the October campaign, when Third Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment was in desperate need of reinforcements, Sergeant Deed worked continuously without rest for five weeks and to his credit must be attributed much of the credit that it was possible to send enough well trained reinforcements forward to bring the battalion to full strength within a few weeks.””

Dasher served as a WO2 Instructor with 31stBn RQR in the mid1960s before a posting to AATTV as a WO1. On his return from Vietnam , Dasher was attached to a Cadet Unit based at Lavarack Baracks before relieving the Adjutant at 51stBn RQR and a subsequent posting as RSM of the Battalion.

Members (L to R) Ray “Dasher” Deed BEM, Tony Wadeson, (Secretary Brisbane Branch)

Mick James, Ray Fogg (President Brisbane Branch), Col Jackson (Vice-President Brisbane Branch)

Plaque for Ray “Dasher” Deed

Produced by Honorary Member Pierre Seillier

LTCOL Jim Bourke MG AM PhD

31st Battalion Association Member Mick James shares his memories of the late LTCOL Jim Bourke:

Many members of 31stBattalion Association recall fondly the Late Jim Bourke who grew up in Ayr and later was the ARA Adjutant of 31st Battalion RQR in1969-71 . I understand he was Dux of Senior (Grade 12) at Ayr High School. He received a Commission through Portsea OTC and was a Platoon Commander with 1RAR during their tour of Sth Vietnam in1965-6. He was seriously wounded during that Tour, but returned to Vietnam in1968 with the AATTV in I Corp (Northern Sth Vietnam) as a Captain with a MIC Force Unit commanded by an American Colonel with many of the Company Commanders Australian Officers or Warrant Officers.

The story below by a former fellow Army Officer, describes Jim’s efforts after he had left the Army to recover the 6 bodies of Australian Servicemen left behind in Sth Vietnam including 2 from his own 1RAR Platoon. He led a multiple year Operation named Operation Aussies Home with private financing to recover the bodies and return them to their families in Australia for burial and closure for the families.

I can confirm part of the story about Jim opening a steel beer can on returning to their secure compound after an operaton. The shot put the Camp on “Stand To” and when he was found to be the culprit, he was referred to the senior Australian Officer in Vietnam, Maj Gen A. L. McDonald for discipline. Jim says he was admonished by the General.

In 1970 I was the IO of 31stBattalion & Jim was ARA Adjutant on our annual camp at High Range, when Jim received word that Gen McDonald (then GOC of Northern Command) was to visit us later that morning. Jim did not wish to meet up with him again, so organised for both of us to do a Recce for our Exercise the following week. We were away from Camp for over 2 hours which covered the General’s entire visit, much to the relief of Jim.

Jim was awarded an AM for his efforts in leading a team to recover the 6 servicemens bodies & returning them to their families. He became friends with Lambis Englezos (who found 250 bodies from the Battle of Fromelles), and Ted Graham (who led the team who discovered HMAS Sydney, sunk in WW2). All 3 were awarded AMs in the Australian Honours- see attached photo.

Jim was one of 19 awarded a Medal for Gallantry in the end of War list in1998.

Jim was encouraged to write a PHD Thesis titled “Living with Unresolved Grief and Uncompleted Tasks: Achieving Closure around Ambiguous Loss and Traumatic Events during Wartime”.You can access it here – Living with Unresolved Grief and Uncompleted Tasks : Achieving Closure around Ambiguous Loss and Traumatic Events during Wartime | VU Research Repository | Victoria University | Melbourne Australia

Jim’s Post Nominals are MG AM PHD, a very rare combination.


Mick James



The following is a brief description of Jim’s life by fellow Officer – Ross Eastgate OAM.

Jim Bourke – Remembering a one-off, larger than life character as I recall him.

6 Oct 2015

JIM BOURKE marched off at 1400 precisely last Friday 1 October 2015
To give him his full title, Lt Col (Retired) Dr James Raymond Bourke, Member of the Order of Australia, Medal of Gallantry, Doctor of Philosophy (Victoria University) departed this life after a long illness, lung cancer actually, the legacy of an early life not always wisely spent.

Born in Ayr, Far North Queenslander Bourke, aka Bindi was a 1964 Portsea graduate.

His mates agree the mould was broken when he arrived. There was none other like him and there will unlikely be again. He had what was described in the army of that time as a “bit of a suntan”, not that it mattered.

He served two Vietnam tours, with 1RAR in 1965 and 1968-1969 with the training team and after the logistics support group at Vung Tau.
During his first tour he had to leave two of his diggers on the
battlefield, even knowing they were dead it was a burden he was determined not to carry to his grave.

Later in that tour he suffered a grievous head wound, the bullet passing through his mouth and exiting near his ear. He spent months in hospital as his face was reconstructed, needing dentures to replace his lost teeth. That was an easy loss to bear compared with his lost soldiers.

There are many no doubt apocryphal stories about Jim Bourke, but none unbelievable to those who knew him.
He allegedly once opened a steel beer can by firing a .45 pistol round through its top, which is possibly why his AATTV tour was cut short.

At his army farewell at Sydney’s Victoria Barracks in 1980, the dentists who had conducted his discharge examination had made, at the suggestion of one of his fellow officers who may now possibly be governor-general, new dentures of bright metal, fashioned after the teeth of a german shepherd, including prominent canine incisors.
Jim Bourke demonstrated their efficacy by tearing the flesh of a roast chicken from its bones. Those teeth were not unsuited to the personality of this larger than life character. They also typified a tenacity to pursue and devour things which bothered him. The loss of Lcpl “Tiny” Parker and Pte Peter Gillson was one.

After Vietnam there were six Australian soldiers whose remains had not been recovered. Jim Bourke’s persistence to discover and repatriate them drove his latter decades. He pleaded, bullied cajoled officials and bureaucrats here and in Vietnam until with reluctant Australian government support he located all their remains, bringing them home as he promised he would do to give their families closure.

It also gave closure to Jim Bourke’s anguish at having left two of his diggers behind.

He wrote a thesis on that wider anguish which resulted last week in the presentation of his PhD, sadly on his deathbed.

He had unfinished work he believed, to do the same for Australians missing in action in Korea.

Rest easy mate, for others will pursue that cause in your memory.

Ross Eastgate



Keith Payne VC AM – 90th Birthday – Living Legend

On the 30th of August our oldest living VC winner Keith Payne VC AM reached an important milestone. On that day we were honoured to wish him a happy 90th Birthday. To mark the special occasion Keith laid a wreath at the Last Post Ceremony and later was the Guest of Honour at his birthday celebration at the Australian War Memorial (AWM).

Keith was an Honoured Guest at the Regimental Dinner of the 31st/42nd Battalion The Royal Queensland Regiment last December in Mackay. It was most appropriate as his first Unit was 31st Bn in 1951 & last 42nd Bn in 1974. Our Honorary Member, Pierre Seillier OAM, produced this Tribute to Keith especially for that Dinner (shown under the birthday function pictures below).

Some Ipswich RSL Sub Branch members were personally invited to attend Keith Payne VC AM 90th birthday at the Canberra War Memorial.
There were four VC recipients present, Keith Payne, Daniel Keighran, Mark Donaldson and Willie Apiate From New Zealand. The Governor General David Hurley , Sir Peter Cosgrove, Senator Jackie Lambie, Leader of the Opposition, Peter Dutton, Matt Keogh Minister for DVA and many other dignitaries were in attendance.

Other guests included the son of Kevin “Dasher” Wheatley VC, George Wheatley & the Great Grand daughter of WW1 Sgt Percy Statton VC MM, Kerri Statton.

Laying Wreath at Last Post Ceremony – Australian War Memorial (AWM)

L to R Willie Apiate VC, Keith Payne VC AM, Governor General David Hurley AC DSC FTSE 

Last Post Ceremony at the AWM

Celebratory Dinner at AWM to Mark Keith’s 90th.

Ipswich Representatives Deb Wadley and Mayor of Ipswich Teresa Harding

with Senator Jackie Lambie (centre)

Keith’s Birthday Cake

Ipswich Representatives with Ray Martin (centre)

Plaque presented to Keith on the Occasion of the 31/42 RQR Dinner – December 2022

See Archives – December 2022 – for the story of the 31/42 RQR Dinner

Created by our Honorary Member in France Pierre Seillier OAM

Kennedy Regiment Commemorative Service – Townsville

On Sunday 20th August The Kennedy Regiment Commemorative Service was held at St James Cathedral in Townsville. Members of the 31st Battalion and the 42nd Battalion Associations were invited to attend.

The service was conducted by the Very Reverend Dr Kenneth Lay. The Battalion colours were unfurled and displayed during the service.

The Commemoration was followed by refreshments served in the Cathedral Hall. The service this year was smaller than usual due to the commitment of serving members to the Joint Defence Exercise “Talisman Sabre”.

Members with the Colours at St James Cathedral – Townsville 

Above – Members and Partners Enjoying Light Refreshments After the Service



50 year Commemoration – Vietnam War Vets

A number of our 31st Battalion Association members saw service in Vietnam during the conflict period in the 1960s and early 1970s. Ingham Branch President – Felix Reitano, sends this photo of ex C Company 31st Battalion members taken on Vietnam Remembrance Day today (18th Aug 2023).

Lest We Forget

Photo L to R Felix Reitano, Rick Butler, Rodney Jones, Joe Cervellin

The Journey Home from the Fromelles Commemoration – 2023

For the 31st Battalion Association’s Commemoration of the Battle of Fromelles, Peter Nelson travelled from his Victorian home to be part of the service in Ipswich. On his return journey he uncovered quite a lot of Battalion history which he relates below:

On our return journey from this year’s Remembrance Ceremony of the Battle of Fromelles, held at the Ipswich RSL, I was compelled to visit Hidden Vale, Grandchester. This was the home of Mr A.J. Cotton, who donated a Cornet, Tenor Horn and Trombone to the 31st Battalion Band in August 1915. These were very valuable instruments and were utilised with great effect by the Band, entertaining the men of the 8th Brigade in Egypt, under Sgt Drummer Albert Compton.

Alfred John Cotton held pastoral holdings and was the father of Frederick Sidney Cotton, aviator extraordinaire. Sidney Cotton led an extraordinary life. Both Alfred and Sidney are buried at Tallegalla Cemetery, not far from Hidden Vale, and we took the opportunity to visit.

On to Hidden Vale where we provided the Spicers resort management with details and information on the Cornet (which they were unaware of). I believe the cornet was issued to Cpl James Compton (son of Sgt Drummer Albert Compton). This Cornet was recovered, repaired and used to sound the Last Post over each of the Fromelles Pheasant Wood reburials, as well as being played at Menin Gate, Cobbers at the Melbourne Shrine, Thiepval and several other appearances. James Compton was wounded at Fromelles, became Bandmaster of AIF Bands, England, and upon return to Australia he was Champion Cornetist of Queensland and Australia throughout the 1920s & 30s. He also established the Toowoomba Band post WW1 and the Cairns Citizens Military Band in the 1930s.

During WWII as a Captain, he served as Adjutant and QM with 1 Australian Reception Camp, New Guinea. Another remarkable man. The Cornet is in safe keeping with the North Queensland Military Museum, Townsville, NQ.

The Bugle

The Cornet

Alfred Cotton Residence Hidden Vale Granchester

Alfred Cotton Grave Site

Leaving Hidden Vale, we discovered the Grandchester Roll of Honour at the Grandchester Railway Station. This Roll revealed not only the service of Sidney Cotton, but also several 31st Bn members from Grandchester, namely

Cpl Robert Carew, DCM (WIA at Fromelles),

CSM Ernest Holland (WIA at Fromelles),

Pte 2974A Cyril Edward Rafter,

Pte 4178 William Alexis Rafter,

Pte 4815A John Richard Nixon-Smith

(won the Welterweight Boxing championship of AIF & 4th British Army in Jan 1918), and

Pte 325 Michael Toohey (POW at Fromelles).

Honour Board at Grandchester

Each had a story, though I was interested in CSM Ernest Holland, also wounded at Fromelles. Although the Roll of Honour shows an error of him being awarded DCM. His details follow.

Service No 352
Rank CSM
Born Nottingham, England
NoK (f) Mr Alfred Holland & (m) Mrs Janet Holland, 31 Fletcher St, Buston, Nottingham England

(w) Mrs Gertrude (Gertie) Holland, Franklin Vale, Grandchester, Qld, later Healy St, Toowoomba, Qld

previously Ruthven St, Middle Ridge, Toowoomba, Qld, and c/o Mrs Alex Smith, Bandon Grove, Dungog, NSW
“On the 18th September, 1915, at St. Luke’s Cathedral, Brisbane, Australia, Sergeant Ernest Holland, 31st Batt., 8th Brigade, Australian Forces, eldest son of Alfred and Janet Holland, of 31 Fletcher Road, Beeston, Nottingham, England, and grandson of Alexander McLeod, late of Nottingham and Beeston, to

Margaret Tighe, second daughter of Mr. and Mrs. W. Tighe, of Grandchester, Queensland.”
Enlistment 12thJul 1915 Grandchester, Queensland
Age 20
Status & Religion Married, C.of E.
Occupation Ploughman
Address Franklin Vale, Grandchester, Queensland
Outcome KIA on 14th Mar 1917 at Bapaume, France
Notes AWM Photo P03633.003 with two wound stripes (killed in action 14 March 1917 at Bapaume, France)
Served 2 years with Territorials, Nottinghamshire, England
Unallotted Inf from 12th Jul to 1st Aug 1915
Pte with 31stBn 1st Aug 1915
Promoted Sgt on 25th Sep 1915
Mate of CSM W McLean (joined and promoted same time periods)
Original, ‘B’ Coy, 31st Bn
Embarked at Melbourne, on HMAT A62 “WANDILLA”, 9 Nov 1915
Disembarked at Suez on 7th Dec 1915
Embarked to join BEF at Alexandria on HMT “Hororata” on 16th Jun 1916
Disembarked at Marseilles on 23rd Jul 1916
WIA (GSW hand & neck) on 19th Jul 1916 at Fromelles
Admitted 2ndCCS (GSW hand & neck) and transferred to Amb Train on 20th Jul 1916
Admitted 25thGeneral Hospital, Hardelot, (GSW upper extremities) on 20th Jul 1916
Discharged to Base Details, Boulogne, on 27th Jul 1916
Proceeded to Etaples on 28th Jul 1916
Marched in to 5th ADBD, Etaples from wounded on 28th Jul 1916
Proceeded to join unit on 3rd Aug 1916
Rejoined unit ex wounded on 5th Aug 1916
Promoted Company Sergeant Major (vice CSM McLean promoted 2/Lt), on 11th Sep 1916
WIA 2nd occ (GSW L forearm) on 9th Oct 1916 at Houplines
Admitted 8thFld Amb (GSW L forearm) and transferred to CCS on 9th Oct 1916
Admitted 2ndCCS and transferred to 25th Amb Train on 9th Oct 1916
Admitted 35thGeneral Hospital, Calais, on 16th Oct 1916
Embarked on HS ‘Dieppe’ for England ex 35th Gen Hospital, on 21st Oct 1916
Admitted 5thNorthern Hospital, Newcastle, on 21st Oct 1916
Transferred to 1st Aux Hospital, Harefield, on 21st Nov 1916
Discharged to furlough on 23rdNov and to report No 1 Comm Depot Perham Downs on 9th Dec 1916,
Reclassified ‘A’
Marched out No 1 Comm Depot, Perham Downs to 8th Trng Bn, on 11th Dec 1916
Marched in to 8th Trng Bn, Hurdcott, on 12th Dec 1916
Proceeding overseas to France per ‘Princess Victoria’ via Folkestone on 16thJan 1917
Marched in to 5th AIDBD, Etaples, from England on 17th Jan 1917
Proceeded to join unit on 20th Jan 1917
Rejoined unit from wounded on 23rd Jan 1917
KIA on 14th Mar 1917 at Bapaume, France (shot by a sniper)
Buried at H.32.G.6.5 Warlencourt Trench.
Buried just SW of Bapaume

Buried Beaulencourt British Cemetery, Ligny-Thilloy, France. 1.G.13

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

pierreAndLambis2023-07-20 104846

Lambis Englezos AM with Pierre Seillier OAM

thefourAMsorOAMCapture d'écran 2023-07-20 104909

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.