Australia will honour the service and sacrifice of our First World War soldiers  at the centenary commemorations for the battles of Fromelles and Pozières.

The Battle of Fromelles (19 July, 1916) was the first major engagement by Australian soldiers on the Western Front where the Australian 5th Division suffered 5,533 casualties in just 24 hours — Australia’s bloodiest single day in military history.

The Battle of Pozières (23 July to 3 September 1916) involved three further Australian Divisions capturing and holding the village of Pozières and launching 19 attacks.

Almost 300,000 Australians served on the Western Front, where 45,000 lost their lives and more than one-third of those have no known grave.

A commemorative service on Tuesday (19 July) at the Fromelles (Pheasant Wood) Military Cemetery marks the start of a series of 100-year anniversaries of battles involving Australians on the Western Front. This will include a Headstone Dedication for six soldiers whose remains were identified by the Australian Army’s Unrecovered War Casualties Fromelles project team.

The Australians at Fromelles, Pozières and across the Western Front were volunteers fighting for our values and freedom — their bravery has become legendary, especially in this corner of Europe.

They are custodians of the Anzac tradition and set a standard that continues to this day in the men and women who serve in our defence forces. As a country we must never forget the service of the men and women who fight and die defending our way of life.

We should reflect on the experiences these Australians endured so far from home, the things they saw and the sacrifices they made and we should be grateful for the liberty we enjoy today because of their selfless actions.