Should Australian and British families be allowed to grieve at this memorial together? 115

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via The Australian War Memorial

Families of soldiers killed in WWI are angry they have been barred from an Australian centenary commemoration of the Battle of Fromelles, and it’s left many wondering why.


Australia’s Department of Veterans Affairs is organising the July 19 service near Lille in northern France but only Australian citizens will be allowed to attend, despite British soldiers fighting alongside our countrymen.

Many readers may have British family members in the battle, however the attendees must have had an Australian family member in the war to attend the ceremony.

Since the end of WWI, some have blamed British military planning for the disastrous attack in 1916 that left 5513 inexperienced Australian soldiers dead or injured, along with around 1500 British casualties, however DFAT has dismissed any bad blood, saying it’s simply for Australians only.

Jennifer Stephenson, from the Department of Veterans Affairs, told The Times the commemoration would focus on the Australian casualties, reports 9News.

“This is not to diminish the role of other nations but simply a recognition of the Australian focus of the event”.

Michael Bemrose, whose father Fred was killed at Fromelles, told The Times newspaper, “Men from both countries fought together and died together but now the Australians want to airbrush the British out of the battle”.

While this mightn’t be true, what’s most upsetting is clearly that relatives of British soldiers killed the very same attack will not be welcome.

Tell us: do you think DFAT should lift their ban? Or is it a fair decision?

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  1. Yes it is, as stated it is commemorating the Australian arm of the war. I’m sure the Brits could do their own thing if they chose to

  2. Let the Brits do their own memorial service this one is for Aussies only.

    1 REPLY
    • A lot of people missing the point! Some of these soldiers at Fromelles had emigrated to Australia from Uk and therefore have British relatives who are barred from attending because they don’t hold an Australian passport! It’s truly shocking.

  3. And the world in general and the Brits in particular will see this as just another example of the hard-heartedness and lack of compassion that now characterises Australians and their government.

  4. Another fine example of Australian beaurocracy gone mad. Yes Fromelles holds a special if some what bitter place in Australian military history but the brave men of this country were not the only ones sacrificed here. Surely it is only fitting that all nations who fought here should be allowed to commemorate the battle without this crazy beaurocratic interference.

  5. Why don’t they have a British service and an Australian service that anyone can attend. In May 2014 we attended 3 commemoration services for the 70th anniversary at Cassino, Italy – an NZ service, a Commonwealth service and a Maori Battalion commemoration service. There was also a Polish service which did have limited places due to the large numbers of Polish people attending.

  6. I think this is political correctness gone mad. The relatives of all allied servicemen who fought there should have the right to attend. The soldiers fought back to back shoulder to shoulder. it seems to me that some GEN Y yuppy has left common sense somewhere. This decision smacks of divisiveness.

    1 REPLY

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