Eurostar, the international high-speed passenger train operator which links the UK with the continent, will host a train ceremony naming at St Pancras International by HRH The Duke of Kent on the morning of the 94th anniversary of the Battle of Fromelles.
The Eurostar train will be named “Remembering Fromelles” and will carry guests to Lille in Northern France which is only a short distance away from the village of Fromelles where the first war cemetery in fifty years will be officially dedicated by the Commonwealth War Grave Commission (CWGC). This major event is the culmination of a significant collaboration between the CWGC, and the Australian and British governments, on whose behalf the CWGC has managed the Fromelles project.
Eurostar will play a pivotal role in carrying to Lille over 400 guests, including many of the relatives of those who died during the Battle of Fromelles, to Lille to attend the event.
In 1916, the Australian and British forces suffered over 7,000 casualties in little over 24 hours, including over 2,000 killed. Buried by the Germans in several mass graves, the 250 soldiers who were carefully exhumed in 2009 have all now been reburied in individual graves at Fromelles (Pheasant Wood) Military Cemetery, with military honours.
Using DNA testing and by gathering other pieces of evidence, 96 Australian soldiers have been successfully identified by name, with a further 109 unnamed Australian soldiers, 3 unnamed British soldiers and 42 soldiers who remain known unto God.
Eurostar takes just 1 hour 20 minutes from London to Lille – a journey that would have taken days for allied troops in both World Wars.
HRH The Duke of Kent, President of the Commonwealth War Grave Commission commented: “The Commission is extremely grateful to Eurostar for providing this special service and for naming this train ‘Remembering Fromelles’ so that not only we, but pilgrims for generations to come, will also make this journey, visit our cemeteries, like that at Fromelles, and Remember”.
Eurostar’s Deputy Chairman, Richard Brown, commented: “We are particularly proud to be carrying so many of the surviving families of those who lost their lives on that tragic day in 1916. The Fromelles war graves will further enrich the history and culture of Lille and the surrounding area and provide a tranquil and fitting memorial for families and visitors to pay their respects.”