The Cobbers sculpture, created by Peter Corlett as a memorial to Australian service and sacrifice at the Battle of Fromelles, 19 July 1916, stands in the Shrine Reserve. It was the first action on the Western Front and the battle proved disastrous. It is regarded as the worst 24 hours in Australian military history. Of these over 5,500 Australian casualties, there were 500 prisoners of war and almost 2,000 dead. In one night at Fromelles the Australian casualties were equivalent to those in the Boer, Korean and Vietnam Wars, combined.
The 5th Australian Division was crippled and unavailable for major action for months. Victoria’s 15th Brigade alone suffered 1,800 casualties, bringing its commander Brigadier-General ‘Pompey’ Elliott to tears. He had anticipated the calamity and tried to have it cancelled, without success.
In the days following the battle, rescuers recovered some 300 wounded men from no-man’s-land. As one soldier carried a wounded companion from the field he heard a call for help: 'Don’t forget me, Cobber'.
Proposed by the Friends of the 15th Brigade, this cast of the original - which is located in France - has been reproduced for installation in the Shrine Reserve with the kind permission of the Australian War Graves Commission and jointly funded by the State of Victoria and the Tattersall’s George Adams Foundation.
Reviewed 28 October 2021