Australians in the Second Battle of Villers-Bretonneux – April 24-25, 1918

The photograph above is of Private Alexander Ferguson Fraser.

Private Frazer was from Brisbane, Queensland. He was an overseer before he enlisted in November 1915. He left Australia for England with the 2nd Reinforcements in April 1916. He arrived in France in May 1916 for service on the Western Front. Private Fraser contracted malaria and was returned to England in April 1917. He returned to his battalion in September 1917.

Private Fraser was listed as missing on the 24th of April 1918 during the 52nd Battalion’s attack on Villers-Bretonneux. Private Fraser was last seen having been placed unconscious in a shell hole while being attended to by a British stretcher-bearer. He was later listed as having been killed in action, aged 23, and has no known grave.

Private Fraser’s photograph is also included in the video below titled ‘You never came home’.

The video below entitled ‘You never came home’ is a memorial to the Australians who died on the Western Front in WW1. From 1916 to 1918, nearly half of all Australians that died in all wars and battles (including WW2), died on the Western Front in less than two and a half years. The image you see for the video are Australian stretcher bearers and dressers lying utterly exhausted in the mud after 60 hours without rest.  Lest We Forget.

Western Front WW1.

The Villers-Bretonneux Australian National Memorial is a WW1 memorial. It is near the town of Villers-Bretonneux, in the Somme region of France. Listed at the memorial are 10,773 names of soldiers of the AIF with no known grave.

The soldiers were killed from 1916 to the end of the war on November 11, 1918. It is also the Australian National Memorial to all the Australians who died on the Western Front in WW1.

In front of the memorial are the graves of over 770 Australian soldiers, as well as those of other soldiers from the British Empire involved in the campaign.

The location was also chosen in commemoration of the action by Australian soldiers in the Second Battle of Villers-Bretonneux.

In March 1918, the Germans launched a major offensive to take the town of Amiens. In that process they  captured the town of Villers-Bretonneux on April 23.

Two Australian brigades were asigned the task of retaking the town with a plan to surprise the Germans in a night attack and encircle them and trap them.

It started with two battalions attacking from the south towards the east of Villers-Bretonneux and at the same time three battalions attacked from the north.

The Australian soldiers attacked at 10pm on April 24, taking out the German machine guns then fighting the enemy house to house.

Three years after the Australians came ashore at Gallipoli, and as the sun came up on April 25, 1918, the Australians had cut through the enemy’s positions and the Australian and French flags were raised in Villers-Bretonneux.

Taking the town cost 1,200 Australian lives and the French people have never forgotten with the words ‘Do not forget Australia’ featured on the town’s school blackboards.

The words to ‘You never came home’ on the video above were wrtten by Peter Barnes the author of ‘Can You Hear Australia’s Heroes Marching?’ Music is Chopin’s Funeral March. Photographs from the Australian War Memorial.

You can download the words to ‘You never came home’ HERE

Australian Paintings – Series of paintings of Australians in war time by Peter Barnes.