100 Years On, Commemorations Should Bring People Together #Fromelles

Some modern perspectives of the First World War are bound up in politics, politics with a small ‘p’ that is. 

For Australians, there is still a keen desire to see themselves as the nation that provided enthusiastic young men to the global war effort, but whose lives were wasted by callous British Army officers.

One only has to watch films with an Australian angle to see the perpetuated theory or have a conversation with an Australian who is on pilgrimage on the Western Front.   

Whilst the Australian Department of Veterans’ Affairs insist that the reason they have banned British people from attending the commemorations at Frommelles this year because of the restricted nature of the site, this seems a little too convenient in the context of national feeling.

Pheasant Wood is a small site, but only allowing those with an Australian passport to enter when of course British men lost their lives alongside their Australian comrades, is not in the spirit of honouring our war dead.

The Australians suffered casualties in excess of 5000 men, the British just over 1.5 thousand, but 100 years on, we commemorate each man, the life lost and the families left behind.  It is not a numbers game of who has the most horrifying tally of war dead, but one of respect.  

I very much hope that the Department for Veterans Affairs changes their mind and allows the families of those lost on all sides the chance to pay their respects 100 years on.