100-Year Tribute to The Battle of Fromelles

July 18, 2016

On Friday 15th July 2016 Lanham Financial Advisory hosted a Legacy Luncheon as a 100-Year Tribute to The Battle of Fromelles. On 19th July 1916 Australian soldiers launched their first major attack on the Western Front. The operation was a disaster and has been termed “the worst 24 hours in Australian history”.

Our CEO Peter Lanham was MC for the luncheon and after providing a background of Legacy and his inspirations for the event; he expertly interviewed our special guests, Mrs Bree Till, Mr Fred Cassidy OAM, and Mr Stan Mackie.

Bree’s husband Brett was the 10th Australian soldier killed in Afghanistan. Bree explained how Legacy played a big part in assisting her to cope during this traumatic time in their lives.

She said having Taleah and Jacob, her step children helped so much. It was a lot for a 25 year old to deal with. Gary Pearson, Legatee from St George and Sutherland Legacy helped her to read through the pile of documents you needed a degree to understand.

Having Gary and knowing he was on her side helped enormously. The advocacy and support from Gary she cannot thank him enough. Between them they sorted all the red tape from Veteran Affairs and helped change the rulings. It was a learning curve for Veteran Affairs with step children and pregnancies. They now have rewritten the procedure and named the book the TILL BOOK for future families coming through.

Fred Cassidy had the luncheon guest’s spell-bound with his account of being right in the thick of the action during The Battle of the Bismarck Sea in 1943. He nonchalantly stated that “it was bloody hectic!”

Fred stated that MacArthur said it was a turning point of the war. The RAAF’s role can’t be ignored; they sent the 12 Beaufighters in to attack the convoy. The Beaufighters set the scene for the Americans to come in and bomb the ships. We were able to disable the bridge, this disorganised management of the ships and the destroyers. This made them better targets for the Americans who were bombing the ships.

Another memory of hectic times was when I was lined up on a transporter, I looked out to the side after loading the cannons again and there I saw a 250lb bomb, 50 yards to the right. The Americans were practicing skip bombing and that bomb was heading to the same place as we were, I won’t say what I said back then! They were hectic times.

Stan Mackie had the guests in laughter when he recounted how Legacy told him that they had paid enough for his schooling and that he was to report to the Bank of NSW the following Monday for a job.

Our main presentation came from Ashley Ekins, who is Head, Military Historian at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra. Ashley Ekins delivered a composed, yet emotional examination of the causes of the failures at Fromelles and expertly explained its significance as we approach its centenary this Tuesday. His collection of photos and research was outstanding.

The luncheon had no raffles, or auctions. Instead we raised funds for the Legacy Children’s annual camp through the generous donations of our guests.

It was a wonderful day where guests were provided with an abundance of historical recount, in a relaxed atmosphere where they had ample time to enjoy each other’s company. Cronulla Leagues provided the perfect venue, the food was delicious and the wines were some of Australia’s best.

All in all an amazing day spent with guests who are some of our country’s finest.