Pheasant Wood Military Cemetery, Fromelles

#13 of 65 in Historic Sites in Nord
Must see · Cemetery · Tourist Spot
Fromelles Military Cemetery is a First World War cemetery built by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission on the outskirts of Fromelles in northern France, near the Belgian border. Constructed between 2009 and 2010, it was the first new Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemetery for more than 50 years, the last such cemeteries having been built after the Second World War. The cemetery contains the graves of 250 British and Australian soldiers who died on 19 July 1916 in the Battle of Fromelles.
The bodies were discovered following historical research that included analysis of aerial photographs showing the presence of mass graves on the edge of Pheasant Wood, just outside the village of Fromelles. The presence of the bodies was confirmed in May 2008, and the bodies were recovered during excavation work in 2009. A specially convened Identification Board published a report on 17 March 2010 announcing the first 75 bodies to have been successfully identified using DNA analysis. Further identification continued until at least 2014.
In parallel with the recovery and identification projects, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission was asked by the British and Australian governments to construct a new cemetery to house the bodies. Building work on the cemetery began in May 2009, and the main structural elements were completed by January 2010. The dead soldiers were reburied with full military honours in a series of funeral services in January and February 2010. The ceremonial first reburial took place on 30 January 2010.
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Pheasant Wood Military Cemetery reviews

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  • Five and a half thousand Australians were casualties on 19 July 1916 at Fromelles the worst day in Australian military history. Many had no known grave until 2009 when a major search took place and....  more »
  • The missing now found and buried. Pheasant Woods is right in the centre of town . Like a CWGC sites it is beautifully kept. Good Parking and very good Visitor centre. Museum worth the Euros to see...  more »
  • Pheasant Wood Cemetery is no ordinary Commonwealth cemetery. The first new Commonwealth War Cemetery built in more than 50 years. Every man buried here died at the battle of Fromelles on 19th and 20th July 1916. They were initially buried in mass graves by the Germans and remained there forgotten until rediscovered 90 years later in 2008. This cemetery was built to give them a dignified final resting place. 250 men, 204 Australians, 3 British and 43 unknowns. Remarkably nearly 100 of the Australians were formally identified using DNA testing. The layout of the cemetery itself, is I dare say, nothing special. There are many other Commonwealth cemeteries far more beautiful than this one. But, the thing I found really special and intensely moving about Pheasant Wood, are the epitaths inscribed on many of the headstones. Visitors here should walk amongst these taking their time to read the words chosen by the descendants of these men 90 years after they were lost. Lest we forget.
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