Hi Ray,
I’m currently doing a bit of research about my great grandfather who was in the 32nd Battalion in WW1. As part of that, I am reading a book about the greatest single loss of Australian servicemen in one day at Fromelles. Almost 2,000 were killed with around 3500 casualties. The book is called “Our Darkest Day” by Patrick Lindsay. This loss of life was on 19 July 2016 so being July, I wanted to share with you a passage that I find quite moving. It is on page 136 of the book and is a quote from Captain Hugh Knyvett’s diary. I think it is worth sharing but will leave that to you to decide. It reads:

“….they found a badly wounded man on the barbed wire. When we tried to pick him up, one by the shoulders and the other by the feet, it almost seemed that we would pull him apart. He begged us to put him out of his misery, but we were determined we would give him a chance, though we did not expect him to live. The sergeant threw himself down on the ground and made of his body a human sledge. Some others joined us and we put the wounded man on his back and dragged them thus across no-mans-land, through the broken barbed wire and shell-torn ground, where every few inches there was a piece of jagged shell, and in and out of the shell holes. So anxious were we to get to safety that we did not notice the condition of the man underneath until we got to our trenches; then it was hard to see which was the worse wounded of the two. The sergeant had his hands, face and body torn to ribbons, and we had never guessed it, for never once did he ask us to ‘go slow’ or ‘wait a bit’. Such is the stuff men are made of.” This sergeant is suspected to be Alexander Gordon Ross of the 57th Battalion who was later awarded the Distinguished Service Medal for gallantry for “…going backwards and forwards repeatedly while assisting in the return of the party and the rescue of wounded men.”

If you get the chance to read the book, it really is a good read. It has given me some insight into what my great-grandfather went through.

Regards and thanks
Malcolm Evans

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  • russell Linwood July 8, 2022   Reply →

    I can relate to the story of LTCOL Evans’ citation and observations of which I am pleased he chose to share. My great uncle – PTE Isaac Linwood, 31 Bn – was also wounded in the same attack early in the piece. This wounded probably helped his survival as he was hit when in the Forming Up Place and did not make it past the front trench. Having visited the battlefield recently and seen for myself the lay of the land, it is amazing our casualties were not even higher given the factors applying to the entrenched Germans who knew every inch of the ground compared to the Australians who had only just been committed into this tragic bloodbath.

    To make it worse, Isaac’s younger brother 1676 PTE Percy Linwood, 52 Bn was KIA six weeks later attacking Mouquet Farm near Pozieres. He was not yet 19.

    If LTCOL Evans wishes, he can contact me for other primary and secondary research leads for Fromelles.

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