Centenary of the Battle of Fromelles

By John Ford

Such is the level of contact now with the village of Fromelles I am happy to report that there were at least three visits by parties from The Lee to our twinned village around the centenary of the battle of 19th and 20th July 1916.

These included a group of intrepid cyclists led by Bryan Hart and a smaller group of learned military history enthusiasts led by Mike Senior.

I was delighted to be part of a group of eight quite learned and reasonably intrepid local residents who stayed with members of “L’Association des Amis de The Lee”. This is a group of Fromellois including the families Lagache, Masson, Fromentin, Delecroix, and Lefebvre who have helped build some genuinely warm friendships with people from The Lee and have definitely given the twinning initiative some real momentum. As ever their hospitality was superb.

Our party was made up of Judith and Chris Syer (and two of their grandsons), Michael and Sarah Dubus, Ros and Simon Morris, Liz and me. We had a fascinating time and were able to continue to cement relationships between the two villages as well as pay our respects to the fallen of The Lee.

I laid a wreath on behalf of the Parish Council at the Trou Aid military cemetery at Fleurbaix on July 17th. Fleurbaix is the next village along from Fromelles through which some of the 2nd Bucks Battalion must have passed before the battle. I believe Trou Aid was a military hospital at the earlier battle of Fromelles (Aubers Ridge) in 1915 and is about a mile from the site of the battle in 1916 where men from The Lee were killed.

There was a very simple and moving ceremony organised by the local community which we were very honoured to be able to attend. Attendance at the main ceremony on July 19th was very tightly controlled and had been the unfortunate source of some Anglo-Australian tension. Luckily four of our number were also able to attend.

Statue of a soldier carrying a wounded colleague

We hope to reciprocate the hospitality of our friends from Fromelles next July at and around the date of the Flower Show. This event has a ‘Harry Potter-like’ mystique in that part of France, following the experiences of our visitors here last year. Pimms has become a local delicacy.

Vive l’entente Fromelloise!