Fromelles (Pheasant Wood) Military Cemetery, France

Fromelles Pheasant Wood entrance building.
Work taking place on the planting during the creation of the cemetery at Pheasant Wood. Fromelles church is seen in the background. CWGC
Work on the planted beds in the new Pheasant Wood cemetery at Fromelles.

Fromelles (Pheasant Wood) Military Cemetery is the first new war cemetery to be constructed by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission for fifty years. The cemetery was started in early 2009 and was completed for a dedication ceremony on 19th July 2010.

Discovery of Soldiers “Missing in Action”

Painstaking work has been carried out to exhume, and identify where possible, the remains of 250 Australian and British soldiers. CWGC
Painstaking work has been carried out to exhume, and identify where possible, the remains of 250 Australian and British soldiers.

The remains of Australian and British casualties were discovered in a number of mass graves in 2008. It is believed that between 225 and 400 Australian and British soldiers were buried by the Germans near a wood known as Pheasant Wood on British Army maps after the Battle of Fromelles on 19th and 20th July 1916. Casualties were very high during this battle, with 5,5330 Australians killed, wounded and missing and 1,547 British casualties killed, wounded and missing. According to the records of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, the number of dead by the end of the battle were 1,780 Australian and 503 British soldiers.

Aerial view of the design for the new cemetery dating from May 2009, superimposed in this photograph. CWGC
Aerial view of the design for the new cemetery dating from May 2009, superimposed 
			in this photo.

Some 400 of the casualties reported missing, believed killed, were believed to have been buried by the Germans in as many as 8 mass burial pits. In 2007 and 2008 research carried out by historian Peter Barton led to a limited excavation requested by the Australian Government in the location believed to be the site of the mass burial pits near Pheasant Wood. Following the dig there was conclusive evidence to suggest that Australian and British soldiers were buried in 8 burial pits.

Work was started from May 2009 to excavate the site and recover the remains of the dead for reburial in individual graves. The first reburial to take place in the newly designed cemetery was carried out at a ceremony in February 2010.

Dedication Ceremony July 2010

The ceremony in the snow of February 2010 to mark the start of the reburials in the new Pheasant Wood cemetery. CWGC
Ceremony in February 2010 to mark the start of the reburials in the 
			new Pheasant Wood cemetery.

The official Dedication Ceremony for this cemetery was held on Monday 19th July 2010, marking the 94th anniversary of the Battle of Fromelles.

Background to the New Cemetery at Pheasant Wood

Jeff Poole, Australian Army Musician, plays the Last Post during the ceremony in February 2010 to mark the start of the reburial of the discovered soldiers at Pheasant Wood cemetery. The cornet he is playing belonged to the Australian 31st Battalion. CWGC
Jeff Poole, Australian Army Musician, plays the Last Post during the ceremony in February 2010 to mark the 
			start of the reburials at Pheasant Wood cemetery.

To find out about the story behind the discovery, the work carried out by those involved in the project to rebury these soldiers and tell their story, and all the latest news on the project go to the website by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) at:

Website: CWGC: Remembering Fromelles

Fromelles (Pheasant Wood) Military Cemetery Location

Latitude N 50° 36' 29" ; Longitude E 2° 51' 5"

Parking & Access

There is dedicated parking next to the cemetery. A ramp enables access to the Cross of Sacrifice terrace.

Related Topics

V.C. Corner Australian Cemetery & Memorial

V.C. Corner Australian Cemetery & Memorial

Related Link

The Australian Remembrance Trail: France and Belgium

Australian visitors may be interested to see a website established by the Australian Government which provides information about the major sites to visit in France and Belgium where the Australian forces fought and where they are commemorated.

Website: www.ww1westernfront.gov.au Australian Remembrance Trail

Acknowledgements

CWGC Photographs courtesy of the image library on the CWGC website: Commonwealth War Graves Commission: Remembering Fromelles