F is for Fleurbaix and Field of Mars


Join me on my Cemetery Searching expedition for the 2023 A to Z Blog Challenge. I’ll be re-visiting some cemeteries and preparing for a wish list of others. Some family members will be mentioned but I also have an interest in German family graves as well as those of people born in Co Clare Ireland.

Rue-Petillon Cemetery, Fleurbaix, France

Back when I first started my research in the late 1980s, the first couple of World War I deaths, I found was my my grandfather’s cousin, James Gavin, who’d enlisted with the Australian Imperial Forces and served with the 31st regiment. His death occurred in the early stages of the bloody Battle of Fromelles, which has gained recognition in recent decades but was once relatively unknown.

James was killed in action on 19 July 1916, just three months after being appointed Lance Corporal. His body was recovered and he was buried in the Rue-Petillon Cemetery at Fleurbaix, France. His gravestone holds the following inscription “though nothing can replace a dear one taken from our side”.

We were privileged to be able to visit his grave during a trip in 1992. You can read more of his story on this earlier blog post. https://cassmobfamilyhistory.com/2011/07/20/battle-of-fromelles-in-memoriam-lcpl-james-augustus-gavin-kia/

Extract from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission database. https://www.cwgc.org/find-records/find-war-dead/
Enlistment photo of Photograph of James Gavin in The Queenslander of 2 October 1915, page 24.
Rue-Petillon cemetery, Fleurbaix.
Rue-Petillon Cemetery, Fleurbaix, amidst the farm lands of Flanders. © P Cass 1992.
Grave of James Gavin, Rue Petillon Cemetery, Fleurbaix

Lest we forget.

Cemetery Searching Wish List

Field of Mars Cemetery, Sydney

I know that some of “my” Dorfprozelten immigrants are buried here and at some stage I would like to see them. https://nmclm.com.au/locations/field-of-mars/


9 thoughts on “F is for Fleurbaix and Field of Mars

  1. Fromelles is said to have been the worst 24 hours in Australia’s history. There were 5,533 casualties and about 2,000 men were killed in one night. Apart from your grandfather’s cousin, my husband’s great uncle was among those killed. I think it is important to remember the cousins and uncles who had no descendants to remember them.

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    1. I agree about remembering those who left no descendants. I’m sorry to hear of your family’s loss. I remember when I read the war diary in Canberra in the late 80s where Peter’s great uncle said “not as many lost as at first feared, 5533”. I was outraged but later found it had broken his spirit seeing his men killed. I’ve written about Walter Cass and Fromelles a few times on the blog…he was a professional soldier.

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    1. It was terrible. Peter’s great uncle was there, WEH Cass, and it devastated him. He said “my boys, my poor boys”, and he was a professional soldier who’d been at Gallipoli. It’s strange how it was almost unmentioned back in the 1980s.

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  2. I’m glad you were able to visit his grave. I find the pictures of the war graves incredibly sad, row after row of gravestones.

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  3. How moving it must have been to visit James Gavin’s grave in Fleurbaix. His stone is beautiful as is the setting — such a peaceful resting place for fallen soldiers.

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