On 19 July 1916, in the northern French village of Fromelles, Australia suffered its worst-ever military defeat when a British officer ordered 15,000 of our best and bravest to go 'over the top' and attack the German lines. Eight hours later, more than 5500 Diggers lay dead or wounded: the equivalent of all Australian casualties from the Boer, Korean and Vietnam wars combined. In addition, some 400 of our boys were taken prisoner, but almost 200 vanished and remain missing to this day.
Fromelles ranks as Australia's worst military disaster, yet it barely rates a mention in our history books and is absent from our war memorials. What happened to the Diggers who mysteriously disappeared? In an enthralling mix of detective story and passionate historical retelling, Patrick Lindsay travels across the world to the killing fields of northern France in his quest to honour our fallen, and unravel one of the greatest unsolved mysteries of World War I.
'Fromelles' tells the story of the painstaking detective work of a group of Australian amateur historians that led to the discovery of the location of the largest mass wargrave site since the Second World War. It follows the story of the battle and why the historians believed the site was missed. It also takes us to the first inconclusive exploration of the site by archaeologists in 2007.
This edition of Fromelles includes a new chapter that finally reveals the truth. In June 2008 best-selling author Patrick Lindsay travelled to France to observe the archaeological dig that conclusively identified Pheasant Wood as the final resting place of the missing Diggers of Fromelles. This new chapter follows the investigation of the site and discusses the many unresolved issues that are involved in recovering the missing Diggers from the graves sites.
Part 1. The Wretched, Hybrid Scheme
1. The Brewing Storm
2. At the Crossroads of History
3. The Anzacs' Journey
4. To the 'Nursery'
5. An Austrian Lance-Corporal
6. In the Presence of Death
7. Loose Thinking
8. Hopping the Bags
9. Lost in the Fog of War
10. Don't Forget Me, Cobber!
11. Counting the Cost
12. The Cover-Up
13. We Are the Dead
Part 2. A Magnificent Obsession
14. A Growing Passion
16. The First Steps
17. Going Public
18. The Panel
19. The Groundswell
20. The Man in the Black Hat
21. The Williams Report
22. The Breakaway
23. Prime Time
24. Pheasant Wood
26. The Turning Point
27. The Wild Card
28. On the Ground
30. Through German Eyes
31. Brothers in Arms
32. Completing Padre Maxted's Work
Appendix 1. The Order of Battle, Fromelles
Appendix 2. The Missing Diggers of Fromelles
Appendix 3. 5th Division AIF Deaths, Fromelles
Appendix 4. Casualties of World War I
Appendix 5. First GUARD Report, Executive Summary
Appendix 6. The First GUARD Report Debate
Appendix 7. Major-General von Braun Order No. 5220
Appendix 8. Brothers who Died at the Battle of Fromelles
Appendix 9. Fromelles Munich Research Report