This image is the cover for the book Fromelles: French Flanders, Battleground Europe

Fromelles: French Flanders, Battleground Europe

Historian Peter Pedersen examines the World War I battle on the Western Front that decimated an Australian regiment in Fromelles: French Flanders.

The attack at Fromelles is significant for a number of reasons. It was the Australians’ first major operation on the Western Front and pitted them against a part of the German line that was an object lesson in the siting of a defense. Before the battle, the Australian Gallipoli veterans had airily dismissed the fighting in the new theater as “pleasant”. After it, they said grimly that Anzac was “a picnic” compared to France.

Fromelles came as a terrible shock and was a foretaste of things to come. Both the genesis and aftermath of the operation were controversial. The objectives and the tactics employed to achieve them were changed several times and the sufficiency of resources vigorously debated. After the war, the British and Australian Official Historians argued as to how the battle should be interpreted. Most of the correspondence that accompanied their exchange of drafts has not been published.

Peter Pedersen’s thorough account of the battle explores the genesis of the operation through the aftermath covering this monumental moment in World War I history.

Peter Pedersen

Dr Peter Pedersen is an author and historian.

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