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Dow0014666 . Daily Telegraph An image from the Battle of Fromelles during  World War One in northern France during 1916. A team of archaeologists are excavating the remains of up to 400 British and Australian soldiers who died on 19th July 1916 during a frontal assault on German lines and were recently discovered in a mass grave on the outskirts of the village. Buried by Bavarian troops after the failed assault that cost over 7000 allied lives, it was only in 2007 that the burial site was finally rediscovered. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission with funding from the British and Australian governments will re-bury the soldiers remains in a purpose built memorial site nearby in early 2010 and plans with the help of DNA profiling to identify as many of the remains as possible over the next few years. Fromelles 30 June 2009




Fromelles was the first major battle fought by Australian troops on the Western Front. Directed against a strong German position known as the Sugar Loaf salient, the attack was intended primarily as a feint to draw German troops away from the Somme offensive then being pursued further to the south.


A seven-hour preparatory bombardment deprived the attack of any hope of surprise, and ultimately proved ineffective in subduing the well-entrenched defenders. When the troops of the 5th Australian and 61st British Divisions attacked at 6 pm on 19 July 1916, they suffered heavily at the hands of German machine-gunners.


Small parts of the German trenches were captured by the 8th and 14th Australian Brigades, but, devoid of flanking support and subjected to fierce counter-attacks, they were forced to withdraw. By 8am on 20 July 1916, the battle was over.


The 5th Australian Division suffered 5,533 casualties, rendering it incapable of offensive action for many months; the 61st British Division suffered 1,547.

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