Now all roads lead to France and heavy is the tread
Of the living; but the dead returning lightly dance.
Edward Thomas, Roads

Friday, October 10, 2014

Western Front Virtual Tour — Stop 39: Fromelles

Battle of Fromelles: 19 – 20 July 1916

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 farther 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 p.m. 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 counterattacks, they were forced to withdraw. By 8 a.m. 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. The German casualties were little more than 1,000. 

The attack was a complete failure as the Germans realized within a few hours it was merely a feint. It therefore had no impact whatsoever upon the progress of the Somme offensive.

Source:  Australian War Memorial

1 comment:

  1. Just finished rereading the account of the battle in Gilbert's book about the Somme