Sunday, November 7, 2010

Remembering Fromelles

The Battle of Fromelles took place in France on 19th and 20th July 1916. The battle had been planned as a diversion for the Battle of the Somme but as the date for the battle approached the possible non-success of the attack was discussed by military leaders however they did not abort the campaign.

Fromelles was the first battle fought in France by the AIF. Five thousand three hundred Australian men were killed, wounded or taken prisoner during the battle of less 24 hours. The remains of many of those killed were never discovered. After the war the Imperial (Commonwealth) Graves Commission created cemeteries for reburying and commemorating war dead but many of the bodies of Australian and British soldiers who fought at Fromelles were never recovered.

A Victorian school teacher, Lambis Englezos, led a campaign to discover additional sites where the soldiers may have been buried. Eventually it was discovered that the Germans had buried many of the bodies and returned the soldier's tags to their families via the Red Cross. This book describes the excavation of the graves, the archaeology involved, the objects found at the site, the attempts to identify the bodies and the reburying of the bodies in a new cemetery at Fromelles in June 2010. Not all the bodies have been identified but research is continuing and if identification is made, the name of the soldier will be added to the appropriate grave.

Illustrated with many photographs this book provides an account of the work involved in identifying soldiers who died during the First World War and the respect with which the bodies are examined and reburied.


1942 in an orphanage in Poland. Felix believes that he has been left there by his parents, Jewish booksellers, while they sort out some problems - they will return for him. Realising that all is not well and his parents are in danger, Felix escapes from the orphanage to locate and warn his parents.

The book traces the journey of Felix in his search and the people that he meets including Zelda and Barney. Through his observations and encounters of Nazi occupation of his country he gradually realises the truth and the dangers that surround him.

Felix and Zelda's story continues in the books, Then and Now, which I have not yet read.

In these books written for children, Morris Gleitzman, through the eyes of Felix, portrays the horror of life in Nazi occupied Europe during the Second World War

Dead man's chest

This is Kerry Greenwood's eighteenth book in the Phyrne Fisher series featuring an English socialite who decides, towards the end of the 1920s, to leave London for Melbourne and dabble at solving mysteries, particularly murders. The adventures of the uninhibited, independently wealthy, Miss Fisher take her to different parts of Victoria which form the backgound to the mysteries she encounters.

In Dead man's chest, while renovations are being made to her St Kilda home, Phryne and party journey to Queenscliff for a holiday.  On arrival they discover that the staff of the house where they are staying have disappeared, encounter three unruly teenagers next door and a group of Surrealists inhabiting the other neighbouring property. Phryne, her maid and companion, Dot, and her adopted daughters, Jane and Ruth all contribute to solving the mysteries they encounter, find some treasure and enjoy their sojourn from city life.

These entertaining books provide an insite into life in Victoria in the 1920s as well providing a mystery or two to resolve and enjoy.