Monday, July 18, 2016

The worst day in Australian military history...the Battle of Fromelles.

via ABC Australia.
We'll never know exactly how he died but Uncle Jack was part of the 15th Brigade that "hopped the bags" exactly 100 years ago and charged towards the enemy frontline in daylight and in full view of machine-gunners.

The heavily entrenched Germans near the strongpoint known as the Sugar Loaf had largely survived the preceding seven-hour artillery bombardment and the Australian 60th Brigade was virtually annihilated by a blizzard of bullets as they tried to cross no man's land.

Other diggers fared a little better, capturing positions deep in German territory before being forced to retreat.

The operation, which was poorly planned by British commanders, was essentially meant to be a distraction, designed to keep the enemy around Lille and away from heavy fighting on the Somme.

But it didn't work.

Tragically, the Battle of Fromelles was a costly failure.

'A butcher's shop of human misery'

Survivors say the trenches afterwards resembled a butcher's shop of human misery with little pieces of people scattered about.

War historian Charles Bean says soldiers saw a wounded man staggering about "with the skin shot from his forehead and hanging over his eyes", while Private Walter Downing wrote "the air was thick with bullets, swishing in a flat lattice of death".
A 7 hour artillery barrage and the enemy isn't even shaken from their defensive positions?  Seven thousands shoulders cross the wire and they're almost wiped out?

What kind of guts does it take to do a mass charge against machine gun fire across open ground!  I don't think we know what hard is anymore.

Quick overviews of the battle here and here. This is definitely worth a read...want a kick in the pants?  Adolf Hitler is thought to have participated in this battle!

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