V.C. Corner Australian Cemetery and Memorial

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V.C. Corner Australian Cemetery and Memorial
Commonwealth War Graves Commission
VC Corner Australian Cemetery and Memorial.jpg
View of the cemetery with the memorial in the background
For Australian soldiers who were killed during the Battle of Fromelles and whose graves are not known
Location 50°37′11″N 02°50′2″E / 50.61972°N 2.83389°E / 50.61972; 2.83389 (V.C. Corner Australian Cemetery and Memorial)Coordinates: 50°37′11″N 02°50′2″E / 50.61972°N 2.83389°E / 50.61972; 2.83389 (V.C. Corner Australian Cemetery and Memorial)
near Fromelles, France
Designed by Sir Herbert Baker (architect)
Total burials 410
Unknown
burials
410
Total commemorated 1,299
In honour of 410 unknown Australian soldiers here buried who were among the 1299 officers, non-commissioned officers and men of the Australian Imperial Forces killed in the attack at Fromelles July 19th/20th 1916 [1]
Statistics source:

The V.C. Corner Australian Cemetery and Memorial is a Commonwealth War Graves Commission World War I cemetery and memorial. The site is located in the commune of Fromelles, in the Nord departement of France, about 2 kilometres (1.2 mi) northwest of the village of Fromelles on the D22C road (rue Delval).

Battle of Fromelles[edit]

Main article: Battle of Fromelles

The Battle of Fromelles in July 1916 is significant as the first occasion on which the First Australian Imperial Force (AIF) saw action on the Western Front.

The battle is widely regarded as a disaster for the Allies, and has been described as "the worst 24 hours in Australia's entire history."[2] It resulted from a plan to divert German attention from the Battle of the Somme, but historians estimate that 5,500 Australians and 2,000 British troops were killed or wounded. The Australian losses were equivalent to the combined total Australian losses in the Boer War, Korean War and Vietnam War:[2] although later World War I actions would be more deadly for the AIF, Fromelles was the only one to achieve no success.[3]

Adolf Hitler is believed to have served as a messenger on the German side with the 6th Bavarian Reserve Division.[4]

Cemetery and memorial[edit]

The site was constructed in 1920 and 1921:[5] The name VC Corner has no obvious relation to actions in the region of Fromelles. It might just refer to a nickname soldiers gave the area during the war referring either to the bravery of the Australian troops or the danger of the place that demanded bravery to be held.[6]

The cemetery contains 410 unidentified bodies retrieved from the battlefield after the Armistice, that is, more than two years after the battle.[3][7] There are no headstones in the cemetery, two large concrete crosses laid face down in the grass mark where the soldiers are buried. Although the graves are not individually marked, these are individual graves, not a mass grave, as can be seen on the CWGC cemetery plan.[3] There is also a Cross of Sacrifice.

The memorial lists almost 1,300 Australian soldiers who were lost in the battle and who have no known resting place.[3][7][note 1] Of these, 711 are buried as "Known unto God" in other local cemeteries such as the Le Trou Aid Post Cemetery and the Rue-du-Bois Military Cemetery. The bodies of another 160 AIF soldiers (and 239 British soldiers) were recovered by the Germans after the battle and buried behind German lines, their names and personal belongings being passed to the Red Cross.[8] In May 2008, the remains of some of these soldiers were finally located in mass graves on the outskirts of Fromelles. A total of 250 British and Australian soldiers from this site are being reburied in the Fromelles (Pheasant Wood) Military Cemetery.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Sources differ as to the exact number of soldiers commemorated at the memorial, with the CWGC putting the number at 1,296. The Office of Australian War Graves gives the figure of 1,333 AIF soldiers who died in the Battle of Fromelles and who have no known resting place, compared with 1,121 AIF soldiers buried in local cemeteries (including the 410 at V.C. Corner) as 'unknown'.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Cemeteries, Australian Battlefields of World War 1 - France, accessed 06/02/2010. A photograph of the inscription is available here.
  2. ^ a b McMullin, Ross (2006), "Disaster at Fromelles", Wartime (Issue 36) .
  3. ^ a b c d V.C. Corner Australian Cemetery and Memorial, Commonwealth War Graves Commission, retrieved 31 January 2010 .
  4. ^ Putting names to the lost soldiers of Fromelles, BBC News, 29 January 2010 .
  5. ^ Australian cemetery and memorial - VC Corner, A.S.B.F., Association pour le Souvenir de la Bataille de Fromelles en 1916, accessed 05/02/2010
  6. ^ There was no VC awarded for action in relation to the attack at Fromelles. There are several places which show a significant number of VCs for example Ypres, the region around Loos at certain specific times but no place on the Western Front has got a significant number of Australian VCs. There were no VCs awarded to Australian soldiers at the Battle of Aubers Ridge on the 9th of May 1915 has been suggested as an explanation here previously.
  7. ^ a b "Something of the horrors of war – VC Corner Australian Cemetery and Memorial", Australians on the Western Front 1914–1918 (Australian Department of Veteran's Affairs), retrieved 31 January 2010 .
  8. ^ Copping, Jasper (22 July 2007), "Mystery of Great War's lost army uncovered", Sunday Telegraph (London), retrieved 27 May 2010 .

External links[edit]