The Hon Andrew Gee MP
Minister for Veterans’ Affairs
Minister for Defence Personnel
This year we commemorate the 105th anniversary of two significant and devastatingly costly battles fought by Australians on the Western Front during the First World War — the Battle of Fromelles and the Battle of Pozières.
Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Minister for Defence Personnel Andrew Gee said almost 300,000 Australians served on the Western Front, including at Fromelles and Pozières.
“The Battle of Fromelles, fought on 19/20 July, 1916, was the first major battle fought by Australian soldiers on the Western Front.
“While the battle only lasted 24 hours, Australia suffered 5,533 casualties, making it the single bloodiest day in our military history,” Minister Gee said.
“The battle involved an attack by the Allied forces, with the Australian and British soldiers aiming to deter German reserves from moving south to the Somme. The attack was a failure and resulted in a heavy defeat for the Allies.”
Just a few days later, on 23 July, the Battle of Pozières commenced and lasted until 3 September.
“The Battle of Pozières was also extraordinarily brutal and costly, with more than 23,000 casualties suffered over the six weeks of fighting. It has often been described as ‘hell on earth’,” Minister Gee said.
“Despite the heavy losses, Australian soldiers succeeded in capturing and holding the village of Pozières in the initial assault.”
Over six weeks, 19 attacks were launched resulting in the Germans being gradually pushed back from the village.
“Tragically 45,000 of the 300,000 Australians who served on the Western Front lost their lives,” Minister Gee said.
“We must never forget the selfless service, courage and sacrifice of those men and women who served our nation in the First World War. It was a conflict which devastated a generation of Australians. That enormous loss, suffering and pain has echoed through the years and is still felt to this day.
“I encourage all Australians to learn more about the experience of our troops on the Western Front, including their very significant contribution to the Allied victory, by downloading the Department of Veterans’ Affairs Anzac360 virtual reality app or search ‘Anzac360’ on the Apple App Store or Google Play Store. You can also visit the Department’s Anzac Portal.”
Open Arms — Veterans and Families Counselling provides support for current and ex-serving ADF personnel and their families. Free and confidential help is available 24/7. Phone 1800 011 046 (international: +61 1800 011 046 or +61 8 8241 4546) or visit www.OpenArms.gov.au