'Nach Fromelles' sign board : Imperial German Army

Place Europe: France, Nord Pas de Calais, Nord, Lille, Fromelles
Accession Number RELAWM07383
Collection type Heraldry
Object type Heraldry
Physical description Metal, Paint, Wood
Location Main Bld: First World War Gallery: Western Front 1916: Fromelles/Nursery Sector
Maker Unknown
Place made France
Date made c 1914-1918
Conflict First World War, 1914-1918

Sign constructed from three wooden planks with back bracing and metal nails. 'Nach Fromelles' [to Fromelles] and an arrow are stencilled in black paint on the front. The nails are hammered half way in and are bent over on the back. A rectangular shape has been cut out in the wood above and beneath the letter 'N'.

History / Summary

This German notice board was taken from the roadside leading into Fromelles, opposite the trenches occupied by the 5th Australian Division between July and October 1916.

Fromelles was the first major battle fought by Australian troops on the Western Front. Directed against a strong German position known as the Sugar Loaf salient, the attack was intended primarily as a feint to draw the Germans from the main Somme offensive, then being pursued further to the south. A seven-hour preparatory bombardment deprived the attack of any hope of surprise, and ultimately proved ineffective in subduing the well-entrenched defenders.

When the troops of the 5th Australian and 61st British Divisions attacked at 6pm on 19 July 1916, they suffered heavy losses at the hands of German machine-gunners. Small sections of the German trenches were captured by the 8th and 14th Australian Brigades, but, without flanking support and subjected to fierce counter-attacks, they were forced to withdraw. By 8am on 20 July the battle was over. The 5th Australian Division suffered 5,533 casualties, rendering it incapable of offensive action for many months; the 61st British Division suffered 1,547. German casualties were little more than 1,000. The attack was a complete and costly failure as the Germans realised within a few hours it was merely a feint, and made no impact whatsoever upon the progress of the Somme offensive.