One hundred years ago today on 19 July 1916, over 5,500 Australian soldiers became casualties during the Battle of Fromelles. Over 2000 were killed in action or died from their wounds and 400 were captured. Losing this many soldiers from a single division in a twenty-four hour period marks the Battle of Fromelles as one of the most tragic events in Australian history, let alone World War I.
You can learn more about this battle here.
Sometimes history has a way of making its way to the present. In 2008, a mass grave was discovered near Fromelles, France. Inside this grave were the remains of 250 Australian and British soldiers who fought and lost their lives in that battle—lost, but not forgotten, for nearly one hundred years.
Since the discovery, archaeologists and forensics have fought to get as many soldiers identified as possible, putting names and faces to the remains. Also, a memorial cemetery was constructed near Fromelles so that the soldiers could be given a proper burial and a fitting send off.
I don’t know why certain events in history impinge more than others. But this battle plays on my heart strings and continues to do so as I shed more tears while writing this post. It feels like an incredible injustice to lose your life fighting for your country to be then lost under metres of soil for a near century as though your life meant nothing.
I believe that’s why I felt compelled to write about it. After so many years, history can become impersonal. And that’s okay; it’s the way of things. But I wanted to put a face, name, and soul behind these soldiers—bring them to life in the only way I could, through fiction—so their stories could be heard and the memory of their lives somewhat restored.
Beyond Coincidence, featuring my fictional World War I soldier, Freddy, was born from soil, bones and buried memories. And to this day, despite writing it nearly six years ago, it remains one of my most treasured stories.
Mixing romance, history, and a touch of the unexplained in a new novel from Jacquie Underdown about love that needs to cross oceans and time before finding a place to come true.
In 2008, 250 Australian and British soldiers are uncovered in a mass grave in Fromelles, France, lost since the Great War. One soldier, bearing wounds of war so deep it scarred his
soul, cannot be laid to rest just yet.
When Lucy bumps into the achingly sad soldier during a trip to France, she doesn’t, at first glance, realise what he is – a ghost who desperately needs her help. Lucy can’t turn away from someone who needs her, even someone non-corporeal, and they travel back together to Australia in search of answers and, hopefully, some peace.
This chance meeting and unexplainable relationship sets into motion a chain-reaction of delicate coincidences that affect the intertwined lives of family, friends, and lovers in unexpected, beautiful ways.