« THE FREEDOM BELL OF FROMELLES »
Message d’Al Gaudet, Project co-ordinator
Amis Australiens, nous avons beoin de vous:
Greetings to you all
As a Canadian, I’ve always been proud of my nation’s military and to be honest with you I’ve neglected (out of chauvinism) to look at the achievements and sacrifice of other nations. A few months ago I became aware of the terrible price “The Fighting Roos” (that’s nickname we Canadians have affectionately given you Australians) the sons of Australia who served in the 5th Division paid a terrible price in lives lost in a diversionary battle at Fromelles on 19 July 1916 on the Western Front.
The blood of more than 1,700 Australians was shed on the soil of France at Fromelles and its Pheasant Woods. Australia’s Diggers attacked a Germany strongpoint called “The sugar loaf” but to get there they had to pass through open and muddy ground. The Germans had the advantage and the attackers were literally slaughtered in open ground. The bodies of many more that were missing in action were never found. Very recently it was estimated that 250 lied in common graves in Pheasant Wood pits.
The re-burial with proper military honours of Australia’s sons has now begun in Fromelles but let me attract your attention to Fromelles Primary School and its Principal Madame Nathalie Braule.
In this quiet little village of France, the villagers and Madame Braule didn’t need any prodding to name their Primary School “Les Cobbers”. I was not exactly “up” on the Australian meaning of the word “Cobber” and I found out that it means “Friend”. I thought to myself, how fitting for this little school to be called “Les Cobbers” since I remember in scriptures the passage of John 15: 13 where it says:
“Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends, you are my friends if you do as I command you”
Indeed, these sons of Australia have given their tomorrows for France. The inhabitants and children of Fromelles will never ever forget Australia. In front of the Primary School of “Les Cobbers” there are two flags that fly side by side, that of France and of Australia. Atop the school there is a windsock in the shape of a Roo. I can assure you that in this little village of rural France, say something bad about Australia and those are “fighting words” for the entire village of Fromelles.
A few of us have embarked on a project called “The Freedom Bell of Fromelles” to add one more Australian symbol to the school. The goal of the project is for this Freedom Bell of Fromelles to be a constant and daily reminder for one and all that “Australian Cobbers” came all the way around the world so that French children could be free go to school and learn, free from fear, free from want and free to enjoy the common man’s freedom and peace and tranquillity. This Freedom of Fromelles Bell will have the symbol of the Australian Army, Navy and Air Force engraved on it.
For those of you who would like to participate in this “Freedom Bell of Fromelles” project
you can send donations to the following account in France ….
Checks or money orders are to be made in Euros and adressed to:
“OCCE 9999 FREEDOM BELL OF FROMELLES”
Bank transfers need also to be done in Euros and addressed to "OCCE 9999 FREEDOM BELL OF FROMELLES”
or, Mail your CHECKS to this address:
OCCE du Nord
208 Rue du Kiosque
59503 DOUAI CEDEX - France
PLUS d'INFOS: http://www.occe.coop
The Office Central de la Coopération à l'Ecole (OCCE) du Nord is the legal entity that federates 1,730 school co-ops (students and teachers with regards to school activities in the Département of the Nord )…This legal entity supervises this fund drive for the Freedom Bell of Fromelles and ensures that the funds given are spent for the sole aim and purpose of the Freedom Bell of Fromelles funds drive. Also know that your countrymen in Australia are also on this project it isn’t only a project for Aussie ex-patriots in France
If there is more money available than the actual cost of the bell all excess funds will go to the purchase of computer equipment for the Fromelles Primary School so they can contact primary schools in Australia.
Sincerely yours ‘A Canadian Cobber’
Fromelles est un village faisant partie du département de la France, (distant de 18 kms de Lille, de 10 kms de La Bassée, et de 11 kms d’Armentières).
Ses communes limitrophes aux noms à jamais gravés dans les récits historiques de la Grande Guerre sont: Aubers – Bois-Grenier – Le Maisnil – Radinghem & Fleurbaix .
Fromelles is a village of France (that is 18 kms from Lille, 10 kmf from La Bassée and 11 kms from Armentières).
Its neighbouring communes of Aubers - Bois-Grenier - Le Maisnil - Radinghem & Fleurbaix are forever written down in the history of The Great War.
THE AUSTRALIAN MEMORIAL PARK
Is situated around the remains of Germains fortifications on the part of their line that was captured by the 14th Australian Brigade and held overnight on 19-20 July 1916.
The Park and the nearby VC Corner Cemetery, some 3 kms from Fromelles, in northern France, are 8 kms south of Armentières and 16 kms west of Lille.
THE SCULPTURE “COBBERS”
by Peter CORLETT of Melbourne is based on 3101 Sergeant Simon Fraser of 57th Battalion, a 40 year old Victorian farmer turned soldier who rescued many them from the battlefied: the man he carries is of 60th Battalion Later, Fraser, as a Lieutenant in 58th Battalion, was mentionned in Despatches before being killed at Bullecourt on 12 May 1917. He is remembered on the Villers-Bretonneux Memorial (Somme) as he has no known grave.
Le MUSEE de FROMELLES
Créé en 1990 par les membres de l’Association pour le Souvenir de la Bataille de Fromelles, il est situé à environ deux kilomètres et demi à l’est de l’ “Australian Memorial Park”.
Le Musée dispose
- d’une excellente collection d’objets australiens d’origine datant de la bataille de Fromelles (les 19 & 20 Juillet 1916 où trois brigades de la 61è division territoriale britannique et trois brigades de la 5è division australienne se lancèrent à l’assaut des positions allemandes tenues par trois régimens bavarois... bataille perdue avec de nombreux morts, disparus & prisonniers)
- ainsi que de nombreux autres objets et articles venant des Forces Allemandes et Britanniques qui combattirent entre 1914 & 1918, dans cette zone qui fut le théâtre d’intenses affrontements en 1915.
D’une richesse sans cesse accrue, il offre quatre espaces valeureux où vous pourrez découvrir des mises en situations d’époque de la première & deuxième Guerre Mondiale, des uniformes, des équipements militaires, des documents photographiques... Un ensemble d’origine donnant un aperçu captivant d’une époque qui doit nous faire apprécier la paix d’aujourd’hui.
Opened in 1990 by the "Assocation pour le Souvenir de la Bataille de Fromelles" (Remembrance Association of the Battle of Fromelles), it is located 2,5 kms East of the 'Australian Memorial Park"
The Musem has:
- An excellent collection of Australian objects dating back to the Battle of Fromelles (19/20 July where 3 Brigades of the 61st British Territorial Brigade and 3 Brigades of the 5th Division attacked German positions held by 3 Bavarian Regiments... it was a battle lost at the cost of many dead, missing in action and prisoners).
- It also has many objects and personal effects of German and British forces who fought from 1914 to 1918 and where there occured a series of big battles in 1915.
With an ever increasing quantity of artefacts, it has 4 areas where you will get the feel of the 1st and 2nd world wars, uniforms, military equipment and pictures. These original objects give a captivating overview of the period that helps us appreciate the peace that we have today.
MUSEE / MUSEUM de FROMELLES
Mairie de Fromelles / Town Hall of Fromelles
(2ème étage / 2nd floor)
7 rue de Verdun
Tél: +33 (0) 3 20 50 20 43
The Sculpture "COBBERS" by Peter Corlett