Monday, April 04, 2011


By Carole Wilkinson

In 2011 we hear too regularly of Australian soldiers being killed in Afghanistan (24 deaths in 2 years) but most of us are unaware of the horror of July 19, 1916 when 5000 Ausssies were killed, wounded or taken prisoner at Fromelles in France. Wilkinson’s 180 page book is an easy and engrossing read. Through the eyes of recruit Walter McAlister and Gallipoli veteran Sergeant Frank Crawford (no relation!) we relive the hopelessness, stupidity, bravery and pain of this day. Excerpts from diaries and letters, photos, maps and posters authenticate the unfolding debacle and asks what was the point of this bloody battle. Vocabulary development is a feature of her text and her chronology is very personal – Adolph Hitler was a despatch runner in his Bavarian (German) unit. The Fromelles legacy is contemporary with the recent (2009) archaeological research of the site, the exhumation of mass graves and the final identification of many Aussie sons. A great read about a little known tragedy that has, for too long, been eclipsed by the Anzac legend of Gallipoli.

Reviewed by Mr Kim C.