Finding Private Harry: Fromelles rememberedphotos, video

Finding Private Harry: Fromelles remembered | photos, video Harry’s Great Grand Nephews Dean Coe (LEFT) and Ben Harragon (RIGHT) unveil a memorial cross draped with the 54th Battalion Colour Pennant. Picture: Marina Neil
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Laying of wreaths and tributes. Newcastle Family History Society, Nola Passlow. Picture: Marina Neil

Laying of wreaths and tributes. Cressy Decendant Maisie Gibson withPeter Gibson. Picture: Marina Neil

Tributes to Private Henry (Harry) Alfred Cressy. Picture: Marina Neil

Boolaroo Public School students lay a wreath. Picture: Marina Neil

Laying of wreaths and tributes. Cressy Decendant Maisie Gibson withPeter Gibson. Picture: Marina Neil

Picture: Marina Neil.

Harry’s nieces, Evelyn Kibble 85yrs (in black) and Maisie Gibson 90yrs. Picture: Marina Neil

Private Henry (Harry) Alfred Cressy’s relatives. Picture: Marina Neil

The service. Picture: Marina Neil

The service for Private Henry (Harry) Alfred Cressy. Picture: Marina Neil

The service for Private Henry (Harry) Alfred Cressy. Picture: Marina Neil

The service for Private Henry (Harry) Alfred Cressy. Picture: Marina Neil

Cressy descendant Jim Michilis lay tributes during the memorial service. Picture: Marina Neil

Harry’s nieces, Maisie Gibson, 90, and Evelyn Kibble, 85, at the front of the crowd. Picture: Marina Neil

Cressy descendants Jim and Carol Michilis lay tributes during the memorial service. Picture: Marina Neil

Laying of wreaths and tributes. Boolaroo-Speers Point RSL sub-branch Vice President, Lyle Dalton. Picture: Marina Neil

Laying of wreaths and tributes.Picture: Marina Neil

Bugler, Corporal Meredith Wilson. Picture: Marina Neil

Harry’s nieces, Maisie Gibson, 90, and Evelyn Kibble, 85, at the front of the crowd. Picture: Marina Neil

Cressy descendants lay wreaths and tributes. Picture: Marina Neil

St Kevins Primary School students lay a wreath. Picture: Marina Neil

Harry’s nieces, Maisie Gibson, 90, and Evelyn Kibble, 85, at the front of the crowd. Picture: Marina Neil

Morpeth Men’s Shed president Keith Angel lays a wreath. Picture: Marina Neil

Cressy descendants Ethan Coe and Chloe Lindenburg lay wreaths and tributes. Picture: Marina Neil

Peter Taylor, Vice President of t Cardiff RSL sub-branch and Harry’s Grand Nephew, reading extracts from his war diary. Picture: Marina Neil

Catherine Murray, Harry’s grand-niece. Picture: Marina Neil

Descendants Charlie and Wayne Cressy lay wreaths and tributes. Picture: Marina Neil

The service for Private Henry (Harry) Alfred Cressy. Picture: Marina Neil

Cressy descendants Brock Reid and Logan Cressy lay wreaths and tributes. Picture: Marina Neil

Cardifft RSL sub-branch Vice President, Peter Taylor lays a tribute. Picture: Marina Neil

Harry’s nieces, Maisie Gibson, 90, and Evelyn Kibble, 85, at the front of the crowd. Picture: Marina Neil

TweetFacebookand Edward. Among so many dead, what was one brother more?

“If Edward had been killed too, we wouldn’t be here,” Ms Coe, of Swansea, said.

NEVER FORGOTTEN: Descendents of World War One Private Edward Cressy – Dean Coe and Ben Harragon – unveil a cross to commemorate his brother Private Harry Cressy at Sandgate Cemetery on Tuesday. Picture: Marina Neil

There is a photo taken outside the Cressy house on Creek Road, Boolaroo sometime after August 1915 when thebrothersenlisted.

The boys’ father Brougham and mother Ann, Edward’s wife Kit and other family members surround the recruits in their uniformswithcaps and high boots.

Australia was a different place in 1915, Ms Murray told the gathering.

It was a matter of when, not if, theyoung nation would followMother England into the fightinginEurope and North Africa.

Harry enlisted six days after his brother, along with an estimated 38 per cent of Australian men aged between 18 and 44.

“We will never know why the two Cressy boys enlisted, but enlist they did.”

Last Post is played for private Harry Cressy. Marking 100th anniversary of the battle of #[email protected]南京夜网/AABKLQf5et

— Marina Neil (@MarinasMarina) July 19, 2016Aeneas,four days before Christmas Day 1915,bound for Egypt.

Kit and the boys’ sister Emily waved from a launchputtingalongsidetheship as it left the Heads.

Harry’s diary detailsmuch onboard that wasbosker!;boxing bouts, card games,pillow fights.

His words read asthoseof an educated man jotting down hissurroundsforhis family’s benefitand maybehis own, filtered through the attitudesof the time.

Docking in Egypt in mid-January 1916, Harry declared the crushing heat “worse than being in the firing line”, the locals “a dirty race of people” and the country “a white man’s Hell”.

But when the brothers sailed to Marseille six months later to jointhe battlefields of France, thatcountry and its people stirredHarry.

He saw women inmourning, old men guarding therailway and the locomotives they passed on their journey north. Harry wasa traindriver, and thedevotionmoved him.

This, he wrote, was “a country worth fighting for.”

Fromelles was meant to bea diversion. In July 1916, Allied forces prepared to attack the “Sugarloaf”, a German-heldpositionnear the village of Fromelles, to suck German resources from the Battle of the Somme.

The Australianforce wasbolstered by Gallipoli veterans but included many, like Harry and Edward, who were essentially civilian volunteers. The Germans were entrenched and had prepared for months. Among their ranks was a 27-year-old Austrian corporalnamedAdolf Hitler.

The sides traded bombardmentson July 19 before Harry’s 14thBrigadecharged into the bullet-riddled spacetowards the German line. It was 400 yards. Harry made it.

By 8amthe next daythe Battle of Fromelles was over.

The Australian War Memorial callsit “the worst 24 hours in Australia’s entire history”.

“Practically all my best officers are dead,”noted senior officer General Harold Edward “Pompey”Elliott, who described the offensiveas a “tactical abortion”.

Seven thousand diggers had charged, of whom nearly 2000 were killed.

If ever a place had bornwitness to thekind ofwarfarethat French soldierHenri Barbusse, in his novel Le Feu, describedas two armiesfighting“like one large army that commits suicide”, it was Fromelles.

Edward was shot and wounded earlyin the battle. It probably saved him. He lived to be 69 andis buried at Sandgate Cemetery.

Harry madethose 400 yards,intoa galeof machine gunfire, watched from German bunkers in the French twilight. Thena sniper’sbullet hit him between the shoulders.

“Many families could describe the loss of a son or husband with one word; Pozieres, the Somme, Passchendaele,” Ms Murray told Tuesday’s ceremony.

“The Cressy family lost a son and a brother in a battle that was rarely mentioned.”

The youngersonof Brougham and Ann Cressyfrom Boolaroo lay in thefield for 95 years until 2008, when a Melbourne school teacher, Lambis Englezos, traced the lost diggers of Fromelles to nearby Pheasant Wood.

“My sister and I visited that field in 2009,” Ms Murray said.

“It is a quiet, peaceful corner of the village and I will be forever grateful to the French people who honour our dead and carefully maintain their resting places through the battlefields of France.”

In solemn scenes televised across the world in January 2010, British and Australian teams buriedthe soldiers’ remains with full military honours. Harry’s remains were identified two months later.

Ms Murray, two of her sisters and some other Cressy descendents were there to see him laid to rest.

Most of the village attendedunder a blue sky, and those that didn’twatched from their back gardens. Tears were shed, a memorial unveiled, and a grave dedicated to Henry Alfred Cressy.

And so it was on Tuesday thatunder a low skyfull of clouds, bagpipesbriefly drownedoutthe groan of trucks onMaitland Road andtwo young descendentsofEdward Cressy –Ben Harragon and Dean Coe –unveiled a white cross.

“HENRY A CRESSY,” it read, “KIA, 1916.”

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