Tuesday 19th July 2016 commemorated the 100th anniversary of one of the bloodiest battles our country has ever experienced. The devastating death of 2,000 young men and over 5,533 injured at Fromelles, France goes down as one of the country’s darkest days – never to be forgotten as the greatest Australian loss of life in one night.
Many families back here in Australia could describe the loss of a son or husband with one word; they simply said ‘Pozieres’, the ‘Somme’ or ‘Passchendaele’.
The Cressy family, originally from Boolaroo, a Lake Macquarie suburb, lost a son and brother in a battle that was rarely mentioned – the Battle of Fromelles – now commemorated as the worst ever in our country’s history.
There were more battles to come, but none with the loss of life as great as the battle that took place in 24 hours outside a small village in Northern France. This was the first time an Australian division was to make an attack in France – the first on the Western Front.
Geoffrey Blainey, a prominent Australian historian, wrote that the worst effect of the war on Australia was the loss of ‘all those talented people who would have become prime ministers and premiers, judges, divines, engineers, teachers, doctors, poets, inventors and farmers, the mayors of towns, and leaders of trade unions, and the fathers of another generation of Australians’…
Story Marilyn Collins. Photo: Descendants of World War I Private Edward Cressy – many travelled from overseas to commemorate his brother, Private Harry Cressy at Sandgate Cemetery. AJM Photography.