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Battle of Fromelles

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Source: A. D. Ellis

The Battle of Fromelles was a British military operation on the Western Front during the First World War, subsidiary to the Battle of the Somme. General Headquarters of the British Expeditionary Force had ordered the First and Second armies to prepare attacks to support the Fourth Army on the Somme 50 mi to the south, to exploit any weakening of the German defences opposite. The attack took place 9.9 mi from Lille, between the Fauquissart–Trivelet road and Cordonnerie Farm, an area overlooked from Aubers Ridge to the south. The ground was low-lying and much of the defensive fortification by both sides consisted of breastworks, rather than trenches.
The operation was conducted by XI Corps of the First Army with the 61st Division and the 5th Australian Division, Australian Imperial Force against the 6th Bavarian Reserve Division, supported by two flanking divisions of the German 6th Army. Preparations for the attack were rushed, the troops involved lacked experience in trench warfare and the power of the German defence was significantly underestimated, the attackers being outnumbered 2:1. The advance took place in daylight on a narrow front against defences overlooked by Aubers Ridge, which left German artillery on either side free to fire into the flanks of the attack. A renewal of the attack by the 61st Division early on 20 July was cancelled, after it was realised that German counter-attacks had already forced a retirement by the Australian troops to the original front line.


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