County Legionnaires pay tribute to the fallen of Fromelles 100 years on

Members of the Royal British Legion from Buckinghamshire travelled to France on the 100th anniversary of one of the bloodiest battles in World War One.
Bucks RBL in FromellesBucks RBL in Fromelles
Bucks RBL in Fromelles

The Bucks Battalion fought alongside the Australian division at Fromelles, when 322 men from the county were killed or wounded.

The British 61st Midlands Division suffered 1,500 casualties in all and the Australians a total of 5,500, the biggest military loss of life in their history.

A coach party from Bucks Royal British Legion returned to the scene of the battle, which took place on July 19-20, 1916.

At the invitation of the Mayor and Anciens Combatants of Fleurbaix and Fromelles, the Legionnaires and standard bearers from the county were present at a very moving and poignant ceremony at the Le Trou Aid Post cemetery.

In bright sunshine, the Legionnaires took a full part in the ceremony with the county standards on parade under the guidance of the French Anciens Combatants parade marshall. Bucks RBL county president Lt Col Simon Wilkinson and his French wife Beatrice read the poem, In Flanders Fields, in french and English.

Simon said: “The people of Fromelles could not have been more reverend or more hospitable. They delivered a very memorable service and then afterwards greeted us so warmly and despite the language barriers we all had a wonderful day, free drinks, camaraderie and a world war one re-enactment group set the scene.”

The veterans moved on with a visit to VC corner and the Australian Cobbers memorial before arriving at the new museum next to the Pheasant Wood cemetery where in 2010 some 250 bodies were re-buried in the new Commonwealth war graves cemetery and where the graves were visited and wreaths laid, for those who are not forgotten.