The Story of Australia's Darkest Day

The search for our fallen heroes of World War I

Many of our First World War Diggers survived Gallipoli only to have their lives snuffed out in an ill-conceived attack in their first action on the Western Front on 19 July 1916.

The their first battle on the Western Front, our Diggers were thrown against an entrenched German force outnumbering them two to one near the tiny French village of Fromelles.  The result was the blackest night in Australian history.  The Diggers suffered 5533 casualties, with almost 2000 killed.  Amongst the dead were twelve sets of brothers and two of father and son.  Against all odds, hundreds of the Australians broke through the enemy lines, never to return.  Their fate has been unknown for close to a century.  As far as their families or the rest of the world knew, they simply disappeared into the mists of history. Until now.

Fromelles is Australia's worst military disaster, yet it barely rates a mention in our history books and the name is absent from our war memorials.  Was there a cover-up?  What happened to the missing Diggers?  Why has it taken so long for action?

Fromelles tells the real story of what one survivor called 'the mystery battle of the AIF'. The book takes us behind the scenes, following the remarkable investigative work of a band of amateur historians – led by a Greek-born Melbourne art teacher, Lambis Englezos, and a Sydney solicitor, Chris Bryett - in their search for the final resting place of the missing Diggers of Fromelles. The book also introduces us to some of our greatest - yet unknown - heroes and crosses the paths of some of the key characters of WWI, including one of the German defenders at Fromelles, Lance Corporal Adolph Hitler. Passionately told, this enthralling mix of detective story and war history takes us to the killing fields of France and back to Australia to find the key to one of the greatest unsolved mysteries of the First World War.

Published by Hardie Grant Books, November 2007

Reprinted and updated November 2008