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The Cobbers memorial, Fromelles, France. In the aftermath of the July 19-20, 1916 Battle of Fromelles, hundreds of wounded Australian soldiers lay in No Man's Land. For three days and nights these wounded were carried to their trenches. Among the soldiers bringing in the wounded was Sergeant Simon Fraser of the 57th Battalion, who heard a soldier call, 'Don't forget me, cobber.' With others, Fraser brought back this and another wounded man.
Text:
Cobbers

The Cobbers memorial, Fromelles, France. In the aftermath of the July 19-20, 1916 Battle of Fromelles, hundreds of wounded Australian soldiers lay in No Man's Land. For three days and nights these wounded were carried to their trenches. Among the soldiers bringing in the wounded was Sergeant Simon Fraser of the 57th Battalion, who heard a soldier call, 'Don't forget me, cobber.' With others, Fraser brought back this and another wounded man. © 2013 John M. Shea

The bunk bed of NCO Otto Riecke, July 14, 1916. Riecke served with 2nd battalion, 5th company, reserve infantry regiment 227. There are two cities in the current Czech Republic, one north of Prague, the other south. Both would have been well behind the front in July, 1916. Note the stick grenades under the fire step in the right foreground.
Text:
Mein Schlafraum!
My bunk room O.R. Jul 14 1916 Janovka. Signed: O. Riecke

The bunk bed of NCO Otto Riecke, July 14, 1916. Riecke served with 2nd battalion, 5th company, reserve infantry regiment 227. There are two cities in the current Czech Republic, one north of Prague, the other south. Both would have been well behind the front in July, 1916. Note the stick grenades under the fire step in the right foreground.

A Russian artillery crew at work. More than its adversaries, Russia suffered from munitions shortages. A card from Der Weltkrieg 1914-1918, a 1930s German history of the war illustrated (or not) with pasted-in cigarette cards.
Text:
Russische Artillerie. Die russische Artillerie war vortrefflich ausgerüstet. Es fehlte ihr aber, namentlich später, sehr häusig an Munition. Das erbeutete russische Geschützmaterial wurde von uns schnellmöglichst wieder verwertet, vor allem durch Umbau zu Flugabwehrkanonen. Übrigens verwendeten wir auch in großer Zahl russische Gewehre.
Russian artillery. The Russian artillery was admirably equipped. It frequently lacked ammunition, however, especially later. We recycled captured Russian artillery material as quickly as possible, mainly by conversion to anti-aircraft guns. Incidentally, we also used large numbers of Russian guns.

A Russian artillery crew at work. More than its adversaries, Russia suffered from munitions shortages. A card from Der Weltkrieg 1914-1918, a 1930s German history of the war illustrated (or not) with pasted-in cigarette cards.

Monument in Pozières, France to the officers, non-commissioned officers, and men of the First Australian Division who fought in France and Belgium 1916, 1917, and 1918. Text: Pozieres, Mouquet Farm, La Barque, Thilloy, Boursies, Demicourt, Hermies, Lagnicourt, Bullecourt, 3rd Battle of Ypres, Menin Road, Broodseinde Ridge, Passchendaele, Battle of the Lys, Second Battle of the Somme, Lihons, Chuignolles, Hindenburg Line
À la mémoire des officiers sous-officiers et soldat de la Prèmiere Division Australienne qui ont combattu en France et en Belgique 1916, 1917, 1918

Monument in Pozières, France to the officers, non-commissioned officers, and men of the First Australian Division who fought in France and Belgium 1916, 1917, and 1918. © 2013 John M. Shea

Drawing of buildings in a French village by Johann Hofbauer, I Company, 52 Battalion, 65th Regiment of German Landsturm. Hofbauer was from Rosenheim, Bavaria, and served first in Alsace, then other fronts through the war. One side is dated July 23 (?), 1916, the other April 21, 1916. The latter includes a stork in its chimney-top nest.

Drawing of buildings in a French village by Johann Hofbauer, I Company, 52 Battalion, 65th Regiment of German Landsturm. Hofbauer was from Rosenheim, Bavaria, and served first in Alsace, then other fronts through the war. One side is dated July 23 (?), 1916, the other April 21, 1916. The latter includes a stork in its chimney-top nest.

Quotations found: 7

Thursday, July 20, 1916

"Amid the hundreds of cemeteries on the Western Front, one, a mile north of Fromelles, contains the graves of 410 Australians, and the names of 1,298 more 'missing' amid the mud and detritus of the battlefield. The battle at Fromelles was a brief interlude, far from the Somme, during that vaster battle. Yet its casualties were high: 1,708 Australian dead and nearly 4,000 wounded. The British dead were at least four hundred. The German dead and wounded were less than 1,500 in all." ((1), more)

Friday, July 21, 1916

"The kite-balloon, too, on the hill, began to sway huge and bulbous—upward—another was seen far off against the rosy east. All night the distant waves of gunfire had crashed and rumbled, soft and terrific with broad flashes, like waves of some immense tumult of waters, rolling along the horizon. As dawn broke, and I came down the hill again, I heard the clear skirl of the Second Gordons piping into their bivouac—a brave note, shrill as the lark, but the Jocks were a weary crowd as they hobbled in. Before dawn a horse neighed twice, high and shrill and scared. . . ." ((2), more)

Saturday, July 22, 1916

"The past, gloomy year of 1915, with its hopeless defeats, culminating in the great Spring and Summer Retreat of the Russian Armies, was stamped with unspeakable tragedy, suffering and frustration. It was warfare at its cruellest and worst. Now the tables have been reversed. Instead of retreat, it is ADVANCE! We traversed the Austrian countryside — still showing signs of springtime's generous flowering — and we revelled in that knowledge that our Russian armies, and those of our brave Allies on the far-Western Front, were gaining success after success. But as we followed in the rear of our advancing troops, the trail of devastation left by war was painfully visible . . ." ((3), more)

Sunday, July 23, 1916

"Sunday, 23 July [1916]: A general attack was made at 1.30 a.m. The 5th or Reserve Army on our left advanced well to the west of Pozières village with 48th Division, while the First Australian Division captured the village of Pozières itself as far as the Albert-Bapaume Road and reached within two hundred yards of the windmill on the hill north-east of the village. . . . The Fourth Army was not so fortunate." ((4), more)

Monday, July 24, 1916

"The class of fighting on the Somme is an eye-opener to all of our men. The intense artillery on both sides tend to unnerve the very best. Curtain or barrage fire was entirely new to oldest of our soldiers. The idea is to establish an impassable wall of steel and shrapnel either in front of our men advancing or behind the country attacked so as to prevent reinforcements coming up. We know from personal experience what German barrage is like. Our own must be terrible as I believe we fire three to the German one." ((5), more)


Quotation contexts and source information

Thursday, July 20, 1916

(1) Fought on July 19 and 20, 1916, the Battle of Fromelles, France, was a relatively small engagement fought 30 miles north of the ongoing Battle of the Somme, but one in which the Australians suffered heavily. The Australians attacked on the left flank, the British on the right, with the plan calling for the two to meet at the Sugar Loaf salient in the center. The British failed to make it to Sugar Loaf, leaving the Australians with no support on their right. A later, second advance, was cancelled, but orders only made it to the British, again leaving the Australians to their fate.

The First World War, a Complete History by Martin Gilbert, page 268, copyright © 1994 by Martin Gilbert, publisher: Henry Holt and Company, publication date: 1994

Friday, July 21, 1916

(2) Excerpt from the diary of Siegfried Sassoon, author and infantryman in the Royal Welch Fusiliers, writing on the morning of July 21, 1916, as soldiers returned from the front line of the Battle of the Somme.

Siegfried Sassoon Diaries 1915-1918 by Siegfried Sassoon, pp. 97–98, copyright © George Sassoon, 1983; Introduction and Notes Rupert Hart-Davis, 1983, publisher: Faber and Faber, publication date: 1983

Saturday, July 22, 1916

(3) Florence Farmborough, an English nurse serving with the Russian Red Cross, writing on July 22 (July 9 Old Style), 1916, as the Russian advance of the Brusilov Offensive continued to drive back the Austro-Hungarians and again, as in 1914, threatened an advance through the Carpathian Mountains to Budapest. In 1915 the Russians had retreated as much as 300 miles before the German-Austro-Hungarian Gorlice-Tarnow Offensive. In 1916, the French had held against the German siege of Verdun, French and British Empire forces we pushing back the Germans in the Battle of the Somme, and the Italians had lost ground but ultimately held in the face of the Austro-Hungarian Asiago Offensive.

Nurse at the Russian Front, a Diary 1914-18 by Florence Farmborough, page 209, copyright © 1974 by Florence Farmborough, publisher: Constable and Company Limited, publication date: 1974

Sunday, July 23, 1916

(4) Entry from the diary of British Commander in Chief Douglas Haig on the assault on the village of Pozières on July 23, 1916.

Somme by Lyn Macdonald, page 172, copyright © 1983 by Lyn Macdonald, publisher: MacMillan, publication date: 1983

Monday, July 24, 1916

(5) Sapper J. Julin writing in December, 1916 about the July 23, 1916 assault on the village of Pozières, France by the First Australian Division, part of the months-long Battle of the Somme. The Australians had suffered heavily in the July 19 and 20 Battle of Fromelles, and British Commander-in-Chief Douglas Haig had hoped to follow that failed attack by giving the Australians, recently arrived on the Western Front, 'a simple task' (Somme, Lyn Macdonald, p. 166). The Australians took the village on July 23, then suffered through days of the German bombardment Julin describes.

Three Armies on the Somme by William Philpott, page 241, copyright © 2009 by William Philpott, publisher: Alfred A. Knopf, publication date: 2009


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