As Australia commemorates the centenary of the First AIF’s entry to the horrors of the Western Front in World War I, a series of events and government initiatives will be held in Ballarat.
There are at least 28 men remembered on the Arch of Victory who were killed at the initial action of Australia’s commitment, the battle of Fromelles, but the numbers for the district were much higher. Many also died of wounds following the battle. Over half had no known grave.
Arch of Victory/Avenue of Honour Committee president Bruce Price says it’s hard to imagine the impact of so many losses in such a short period of time on the families of Ballarat.
We cannot justly blame their failure in the circumstances- Harold 'Pompey' Elliott
“Some of those households received the bad news within a week or ten days; others had to endure more than 12 months of fear, anxiety and hope until the courts of inquiry determined that their sons or fathers or husbands had been killed in that futile charge at Fromelles,” Mr Price said.
At 11am on Wednesday, the committee will conduct a wreath-laying service at the Arch of Victory precinct.
Mr Price says at least seven of the families of the 28 men lost at Fromelles will be represented, as well as several schools. Anyone wishing to lay a wreath is invited to contact Mr Price on 5338 8753.
On Tuesday at 10am author Carole Wilkinson will be a guest at the Ranger Barracks Officers’ Mess in Sturt Street for a commemorative talk about the battle of Fromelles.
State parliamentarians and City of Ballarat councillors will attend to hear speakers talk about the Western Front and the impact of World War I on Australian lives.
Ms Wilkinson is the author of Fromelles: Australia’s Bloodiest Day at War. Relatives of the commander of the Australian 15th Brigade Harold Pompey Elliott will also attend.
Elliott wrote of the allied troops at Fromelles: “We cannot justly blame their failure in the circumstances… they were the victims of shocking generalship.”
Following the unveiling of a set of replica medals of those belonging to Elliott, the Ranger Museum will be open to the public from 10am until 4pm, with a special display on Fromelles. Inquiries 5341 8225.
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